Leaks Vs. Flooding: Which Causes Worse Water Damage?

Leaks vs. flooding: which one wins the title of Worst Water Damage? It is a tight competition. No source of water damage is pleasant. Dealing with cleanup and restoration is taxing. Choosing between leaks and flooding is a matter of picking your poison. Depending on the situation and your criteria, sometimes flooding is better and sometimes you’d rather have a leak. The score needs to be settled on a case by case basis.

Leaks vs. Floods

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More widespread damage

When it comes to widespread damage, leaks don’t even come close. Flooding can ruin entire rooms and floors of your house. By the very definition of flood, it’s something that happens over a wide area. According to FEMA, a flood happens over two or more acres of land or two or more units of property.

Flood damage often reaches a uniform depth or level on the wall throughout multiple rooms. This can result in the need to replace a lot of furniture as well as flooring and wall paneling and insulation. Floods aren’t the only caused of filled rooms, however. Floods involve exterior water coming into the home, so while a burst water pipe might “flood” the basement in a colloquial sense, the water damage would still be a leak.

More dangerous damage

When looking at the dangers of leaks vs. flooding, which damage is more dangerous depends on a lot of other factors. Floods can track in a lot of bacteria and mud. If an appliance that uses clean water breaks, you don’t have to worry as much about disease and mold. On the other hand, leaks can involve backed up sewage and other highly dangerous water damage. A flood of fresh rainwater might be less dangerous than a leak of “black water”. Black water is water highly contaminated with sewage.

More common damage

Nationwide, more water damage occurs because of leaks than flooding every year. While floods may overwhelm a specific area, in today’s age there are far more appliance malfunctions than there are floods. This round of leaks vs floods is awarded to leaks: a homeowner is much more likely to experience water damage due to a leak.

Leaks are more easily preventable, however. Even the best prepared home can’t prevent a lake from overflowing or a series of bad storms from damaging the area. A schedule of regular maintenance for all appliances that draw water will drastically reduce the risk of leaks.

More difficult to get insurance to cover

Unbelievably, it’s actually much more difficult to get insurance to pay for flood damage. Standard homeowner’s insurance often has clauses for appliance or plumbing caused water damage. Leaks are prevalent, but are protected. Flooding is often not covered by standard insurance. People in high-risk areas may have to purchase specialty flood insurance. Homeowners who experience fluke flooding may have no claim to insurance help whatsoever.

Choosing between leaks vs. flooding might seem silly, but knowing how each one will affect you and your home is important. Everyone has their own opinion, and in the end it all comes down to the particular circumstances. A flood is worse than a clean water leak, but not as bad as a contaminated water leak when you don’t have homeowner’s insurance.  The specifics of your situation determine the outcome.

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