The Dangers of Stagnant Water

Stagnant water is water that sits in place for hours or even days or weeks. It is most commonly associated with floods, water leaks, and backups. It’s most common in basements, crawl spaces, bathrooms, and kitchens when water cannot drain properly. Whether from a clean water source or a sewage backup, it will allow bacteria and mold to grow over time. Also called standing water, it will soak into materials and cause water damage in your home. The dangers of standing water get worse over time and can lead to a number of health risks and structural issues. We explain how to get rid of stagnant water and stay safe during cleanup.

We clean up standing water. Call 1-888-443-3110 for a free estimate from a water damage company near you.

How To Get Rid Of Standing Water

In some cases, you can clean up stagnant water on your own. However, household equipment like vacuums, shop vacs, and fans may take too long to effectively dry the area. The longer it takes to dry the area, the greater the chance that mold and bacteria will spread to other materials like carpet padding, drywall, and woodwork.

If you’re getting rid of stagnant water on your own, we recommend renting equipment designed for water removal and structural drying. If you don’t have the time or equipment to remove standing water quickly, consider hiring a water damage restoration company. They will clean up standing water in a similar way.

1. Remove Standing Water

Start the cleanup process by removing as much water as possible. For deeper water, use a submersible pump or a wet-dry vacuum. If the standing water is shallow, use towels or blankets to soak it up.

2. Remove Damage Material

Water can weaken or break down drywall, woodwork, carpeting, and carpet padding. Remove materials damaged beyond repair. Also, clear furniture and personal items out of the room to make drying easier.

3. Dry The Impacted Area

Use air movers and dehumidifiers to dry the entire area as quickly as possible. This will prevent mold and limit structural damage. Although you can use household fans, they will take much longer.

4. Repair the Source of the Damage

Find and fix whatever caused the stagnant water. If you don’t fix the issue, it’s likely that standing water will return and cause more damage. Depending on the cause, you may need to make repairs before removing the water.

5. Clean And Disinfect The Area

Even after cleanup, bacteria and mold may grow on many surfaces. Clean surfaces with a mild detergent to remove dirt and debris. Then disinfect with a mixture of 1 and ¼ cups bleach per gallon of water.

6. Rebuild And Restore

Finally, restore the damaged area. The exact process will vary depending on the damage. In most cases, this includes cleaning or installing new carpet, replacing drywall, putting in new cabinets, and repainting.

The Dangers Of Stagnant Water

Regardless of the source, standing water poses a number of dangers. Even clean water will become a breeding ground for bacteria, mold, viruses, and parasites. Here are the most common dangers of stagnant water. Due to these risks, you should never drink or cook with stagnant water.

  • Bacteria – Even clean standing water will allow bacteria to grow, with floodwaters and sewage already contaminated. E. coli and Salmonella are the most common bacteria in stagnant water, but any type of bacteria is possible.
  • Mold – As the water saturates flooring and walls, mold will eventually appear. With clean water, it’ll take a few days, but it could be as little as 24 hours if sewage is involved.
  • Viruses – Stagnant water will allow viruses to breed including the Norwalk virus and rotaviruses. Insects and mosquitoes may also carry other viruses. More on this below.
  • Parasites – The most common parasites in standing water are Entamoeba, Giardia, and Cryptosporidium. These may grow in clean water but are much more common in floodwaters and sewage.
  • Structural Damage – Stagnant water will cause structural damage as it soaks into walls and flooring. Water will dissolve drywall, carpeting, carpet padding, and cabinets. It can also wrap hardwood floors and wood studs.
  • Insects and Rodents – Stagnant water can also attract insects and rodents. Mosquitoes may carry malaria, West Nile virus, and Zika fever. Rats, mice, and other small rodents can carry a variety of bacteria and diseases.

Although not necessarily a risk, standing water often smells bad. The most common smell from standing water is rotten eggs. This is caused by the production of hydrogen sulfide as bacteria break down plant or animal matter. If the stagnant water contains sewage, that will make the smell even worse.

Health Dangers Of Standing Water

  • Cryptosporidium
  • Dengue Fever
  • Entamoeba
  • Fungus
  • Giardia
  • Legionnaires’ Disease
  • Malaria
  • Mold
  • Norwalk Virus
  • Rotavirus
  • West Nile Virus
  • Zika Fever

Structural Dangers Of Stagnant Water

  • Ceiling Leaks
  • Deteriorating Carpet Or Padding
  • Drywall and Wood Damage
  • Mold Growth
  • Swelling Cabinets
  • Warped Hardwoods

What Causes Standing Water?

Clean sources include water supply lines and rainwater. Supply lines may leak or even burst. Rainwater may leak in through roofs, windows, or other damaged areas. While clean water does not bring in contaminants with it, it can become a breeding ground for bacteria if not cleaned up quickly.

Contaminated sources of standing water include flooding and sewage backups. Water damage from flooding and sewage are likely to contain parasites, mold, bacteria, and even chemical pesticides from outdoors. The longer the contaminated water sits untreated, the more likely it will make your family and pets sick.

How Much Does It Cost To Clean Up Stagnant Water?

Unfortunately, there are several factors that determine the cost of water damage restoration, including the source and amount of water, the size of the area, the length of time, and how much reconstruction is needed. On average, restoration costs start at approximately $3.75 per square foot. Review our water damage cost guide for the average price of restoration by state.

Call 1-888-443-3110 To Get Rid Of Standing Water In Your Home

Restoration Local is the #1 network of restoration companies in the country. Our local water restoration teams not only remove potentially hazardous standing water but resolve the source of the problem. They will clean the area thoroughly and make repairs to make sure no future problems arise.

Choose a local water damage contractor from our list now. Our directory includes both major brands like Bio-One and Restoration 1 as well as independent restoration companies. For immediate service for stagnant water, call 1-888-443-3110 for a free on-site estimate from our on-call water damage contractor in your area.

Image provided by London Looks / Flickr

Author: Jeff Rooks

Jeff Rooks writes restoration content that helps homeowners restore their lives after a disaster or accident. Most days, you can find him cycling through Tampa. He also enjoys exploring new and delicious food and beverages around the world.

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