Natural vs. Man-Made Floods

Car submerged in flood on street

When you picture flooding, the word “natural disaster” probably comes to mind. However, many floods are anything but natural, stemming from plumbing systems, appliances, and other man-made inventions. Learn how the two compare in terms of likelihood and potential damage.

Examples of Natural and Man-Made Floods

Natural floods infiltrate your home from the outside while man-made floods start on the inside.

Natural Floods
  • River flooding from long, steady rain
  • Flash flooding caused by sudden, heavy rain
  • Coastal flooding from extreme tidal conditions
Man-Made Floods
  • Burst water heater tanks
  • Broken washing machine, dishwasher, or ice maker water lines
  • Air conditioner leaks
  • Overflowed toilets, sinks, or tubs
  • Backed up sewer systems
  • Frozen pipes that subsequently burst

Likelihood of Natural and Man-Made Floods

Natural Floods

Floods are the most common type of natural disaster in the US. Ninety percent of officially declared national disasters are flood-related, and every state has had a flood in the past five years. Of course, homes located near the coast or rivers, in low-lying areas, or in wet climates have an increased chance of experiencing a natural flood.

Man-Made Floods

Water damage is the second most frequently filed insurance claim in the US, accounting for about 20 percent of all claims. Every day, 14,000 people in the US experience a water damage emergency at home or work.

The likelihood of a plumbing-related flood depends largely on how you take care of your appliances and pipes. After all, it’s estimated that 93 percent of water damage originating inside the home can be prevented.

If you ignore your plumbing and water-connected appliances, you increase your chances of a man-made flood. However, if you regularly check the condition of water supply lines, have your water heater maintained, and only flush approved items down the toilet, your chances of experiencing a disaster decrease.

Level of Potential Damage from Natural and Man-Made Floods

Natural Floods

From 2006 to 2015, natural flooding in the US resulted in nearly $2 billion in insurance claims. In recent years, the average individual flood claim amounted to more than $46,000. Texas saw the highest number of flood insurance claims in 2015 – nearly 10,000 totaling more than $520 million in claim payments.

Even an inch or two of floodwater in your basement can cause tremendous damage. What’s worse is that all floodwater from lakes and rivers is treated as Category 3 (black) water, meaning it could contain pathogens that would make you seriously ill if you ingested it. Cleaning up black water from a natural flood is much more challenging and expensive than simply drying out a home flooded with water from a sanitary source.

Man-Made Floods

Water damage from man-made floods cost the US insurance industry $2.5 billion per year. The average cost of a home water damage insurance claim is $7,000.

The degree of damage caused by man-made floods depends largely on the source:

  • Category 1 (clean) water from broken water supply lines, or sink or tub overflows, has no contaminants and therefore does less damage.
  • Category 2 (grey) water from overflowed washing machines or dishwashers contain a higher level of contamination.
  • Category 3 (black) water from a toilet overflowing or sewage backup is grossly unsanitary and cost more to clean up.

Recover from Flood Damage with Our Help

Whether your home is damaged by a natural or man-made flood, Rainbow International® can help you recover. Our water damage services and mold remediation are just what you need to get back on your feet. Contact us today to learn more.

Dealing with sewage back up? Contact Mr. Rooter Plumbing, a Neighborly company, to help get your bathroom back in order.