It’s happened to all of us at some point: a clogged drain leaves behind a sink full of smelly water, a heavy rainstorm turns your front yard into a lake, or your neighbor moved out and abandoned his swimming pool full of nasty water and dead plants. Now you’ve got a real problem: standing water.

This article will explain what standing water is, where it comes from, the risks it can pose to you, your family, and even your pets, and most importantly, how to get rid of standing water.

What is Standing Water?

Standing water, or stagnant water, is water that doesn’t move or flow. It is a collection of water that stays in one place until it becomes smelly and dirty. It can be any size, from a bucket left under a leaky drain to a poorly-maintained swimming pool or even an entire backyard.

Standing water can come from either clean or contaminated sources. The most common sources of clean standing water are water supply lines that bust or leak and rainwater leaking into your home through roofs, windows or other unsealed areas. Although this water is clean to start with, it can quickly become a real problem if it is not addressed immediately.

Standing water coming from contaminated sources, such as flooding and sewage backups, is an immediate problem. This water is already filled with parasites, bacteria, and mold, and poses serious health risks to you, your family, and your pets.

Health Risks of Standing Water

Water that has been sitting still for a long period of time is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria, mold, and parasites. Many types of bacteria thrive in moist environments and can cause serious illness in humans and animals. Mold can begin to grow in as little as 48 hours in the right conditions, and mold infestation has been known to cause respiratory illnesses in both people and animals.

Standing water also attracts insects and rodents. Mosquitoes use shallow pools of standing water as a breeding ground and have been found to carry diseases such as malaria, West Nile virus, Zika virus and some forms of encephalitis that are easily passed to humans.

Standing water inside your home can attract vermin searching for watering holes and nesting space. Rodents such as rats, mice and possums can spread disease through their waste or by biting and scratching if you come into contact with them. They can also cause massive amounts of damage to your home as they gather and build nests.

Standing water inside the home can pose a health risk and wreak havoc on the home structure itself. During severe storms, floods, or other disasters, broken water pipes can allow water to accumulate in places that are not always immediately visible, such as basements or under floors. The growth of bacteria and mold in these hidden pools can cause illness in the people exposed to it. If left untreated, this can lead to rot and structural damage inside the home.

How to Get Rid of Standing Water

The key to minimizing the damage caused by standing water is speed. Removing the water and preventing it from reappearing as quickly as possible will greatly lessen the negative impact of standing water both inside and outside your home.

1. Remove The Water 

Remove the stagnant water as soon as possible. Use rags or towels to clean up small areas of standing water. Utilize pumps or wet/dry vacuums for larger regions of standing water. If the area is too large for you to handle on your own, call an emergency plumber.

2. Dry The Affected Area

Dry the entire area as quickly as possible to prevent mold growth and structural damage.

3. Remove Damaged Materials

Water can weaken structural materials such as drywall and woodwork. Carpeting and carpet padding can deteriorate and lead to increased mold growth. Any material damaged beyond repair should be removed as soon as possible.

4. Find the Source of the Damage and Repair It

Find whatever allowed the standing water to accumulate in the first place and fix the problem. If you don’t, it is highly likely the standing water will return.

5. Clean, Sanitize and Restore the Affected Area

Proper cleaning and sanitation of the affected areas will prevent future growth of mold or bacteria as well as remove any odors left behind by the water. Finally, restore the damaged area by replacing drywall, carpet, repainting, etc.

Standing Water Outside the Home

Stagnant water outside your home can be almost as destructive as water inside the home. You face all the same health risks regardless of whether the water is in your basement or your backyard.

There is less risk of structural damage with a flooded yard, but standing water can wreak havoc on your landscaping. Typically, standing water outside the home is caused by poor drainage, issues with soil quality or landscaping features that hinder water absorption. A professional landscaper can identify any issues and suggest both short- and long-term solutions.

Stagnant water can cause a lot of headaches and cost you a lot of money if it is not addressed promptly. Educating yourself about the causes of this problem and addressing maintenance issues to prevent water from infiltrating your home will ensure that your home remains a healthy environment for you and your family.

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