Common Causes of Fire & Water Damage

Fire and water damage are two of the most formidable foes you encounter on the front lines in your profession. In the world of restoration, there’s no room for hesitation. That’s why we are committed to arming restoration pros with the knowledge, insight and practical solutions to take on remediation work — with your sleeves rolled up and your spirits high. In this blog, we’ll take a closer look at the most common causes of fire and water damage so that you can better understand the causes, impact and mitigation methods.

Common Fire & Smoke Damage Causes

From discoloration and trapped odors to severe structural issues, fire and smoke damage can cause a wide variety of damage to buildings in the event of a fire. Here are some of the most common causes of fires in residential and commercial buildings.


Cooking is the leading cause of home fires, accounting for nearly 50 percent of all home fires according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). It’s important to never leave cooking unattended and closely monitor heated oils, proteins and heated pans. In the event of a small stove top grease fire, cut off oxygen to the fire by covering it with a non-flammable lid or using salt.

Electrical Appliances & Lighting

Electrical fires can be caused by faulty or overloaded outlets, lighting systems and electrical appliances. These types of fires tend to increase during the winter months, especially January, as cold weather leads to increased use of heating appliances. It’s important to avoid overloading power outlets, keeping an eye on how many devices and wattages are plugged in at a time. It’s also important to keep any flammable materials aways from power outlets in case of a fire. Check and maintain appliances, making sure to retire older appliances or those with damaged cords to reduce risk.


Smoking — or, more accurately, improperly disposed of cigarette butts and smoking materials — is one the leading causes of residential fire-related fatalities. According to NFPA, these fires cause almost one in four home fire deaths and one in 10 home fire injuries. Embers from improperly discarded smoking materials can ignite furniture, upholstering, linens and paper goods. It’s essential to take care to dispose of smoking materials appropriately so that embers don’t interact with flammable materials.

Electronic Equipment

Electronic equipment can pose a significant risk when it comes to fire damage, especially in office or commercial settings with extensive equipment. Overheating, short circuits or malfunctioning devices can ignite a fire, especially when left unattended or in poorly ventilated areas. To mitigate this risk, always follow manufacturer recommendations for equipment usage and maintenance, use surge protectors and unplug devices when not in use. Regularly inspect and replace frayed cords or damaged outlets to prevent electrical issues that could lead to fires.

Common Water Damage Causes

From flooding to burst pipes, time is of the essence when it comes to water damage restoration. Here are some of the most common causes of water damage to homes and commercial buildings.

Hurricanes & Storms

Severe weather events such as hurricanes and flooding can result in extensive water damage. To minimize the risk, homeowners should prepare in advance by reinforcing roofs, securing windows, and having a reliable generator and an emergency kit in place. Regularly trim trees and clear debris from gutters to prevent water damage.

Building Envelope Issues

A compromised building envelope, including windows and siding, can cause varying degrees of water damage.  Cracks in siding or improperly sealed windows can allow water to infiltrate during heavy rain or snow. Regular maintenance, such as sealing gaps, inspecting and replacing damaged siding, and reinforcing windows, can mitigate these risks.

Roof Damage

A damaged or deteriorating roof can lead to water leaks during rainstorms or stormy weather. Regular roof inspections, repairs, and the installation of fire-resistant roofing materials can help mitigate these risks and ensure your home is better protected.

Leaky or Burst Pipes

Another common culprit of water damage is a leaking or burst pipe, which can cause extensive damage during severe weather during the winter months. It’s essential to keep pipes warm during cold weather and allow faucets to drip during freezes to keep water flowing. Regular maintenance and checks can also help reduce the risk of damage, allowing homeowners to fix any leaks quickly.

Fire, smoke and water damage can be devastating when not tackled quickly with the right tools and know-how. At Atex, we take pride in serving as the one-stop shop for all restoration needs, including equipment, training and expertise. Explore our online catalog or reach out to our team for more information about best practices for preventing and treating these types of damage.


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