Water damage is more common than any homeowner would hope. You don’t have to live on a flood plain or area affected by hurricanes in order for your home to be impacted by water damage. Just a few of the common sources of water damage besides storms and flooding include:
- Overflowing sinks and bathtubs
- Toilets overflowing due to drainage issues
- Poor sealing around showers and tubs
- Leaking appliances and fixtures such as dishwashers, clothes washers, water heaters, and more
- Water and chemicals sprayed by firefighters or automatic fire suppression systems
- Sewage backups
- Plumbing blockages, leaking pipes, and burst water mains
It can be helpful to know the most common source of water damage, in order to minimize the potential for it happening. But what do you do once it happens? How does an expert in water damage remediation and restoration get your house back to normal? Here’s a basic breakdown of the process, from start to finish.
Step 0: Before you call us, minimize further damage
Water damage is a process that can progress quickly, or very slowly. Either way, you want to act fast to try and stop as much of that process as possible. A few minutes can be the difference tearing out the floor in one room, and tearing out the floors and walls in half of your home.
- If the water is originating from your plumbing or a fixture, shut off the main water valve in your home. If there is a great deal of flooding, shut off the power in order to avoid accidental electrocution from appliances and wiring in the affected area(s).
- Remove as many loose items from the area as possible, including personal possessions, books, electronics, tabletop items, lamps and other electric devices, and furniture.
- Sensitive electronics can be placed in containers of rice for a couple days in order to absorb as much moisture as possible. This gives the best chance of recovering these items.
- Dry your furniture thoroughly with rags, towels, or paper towels. If some of the furniture in affected areas is too large to remove, prop the items up on boards or blocks in order to get them above the water or off of damp floors.
- Remove any loose rugs and coverings and place them somewhere where they can dry without dripping water on vulnerable areas. Consult us before considering removing carpeting and underpadding.
- Dry the air as much as possible. Run fans, dehumidifiers, air conditioners, central heating and/or fireplaces.
- Remove and soak up as much excess water from the affected area as possible—if there’s a great deal of water, rent a sump pump. If you use a vacuum, ONLY use a shop vac rated for web use, and be extremely cautious about where it’s plugged in, and where the power cord is. Continue the process using mops, towels, sheets, etc. Remember, if the water originated from a plumbing issue, do NOT dump collected water down sinks, toilets, or showers.
- Call us for help, and inform your insurance company. For insurance purposes, hold onto all receipts for items and services procured to deal with the water damage.
Step 1: Assessing the extent of the water damage
The first thing we have to do when we get on-site is to inspect your property and assess the situation. It’s very important at this stage to conduct water testing to identify what contaminants are present, because this will affect the restoration process. Water contamination generally falls into three categories:
- White water. This is water that’s fresh out of the faucet. It drinkable and uncontaminated. Of course, once it’s sitting on your living room floor, it’s no longer white water. But this is still the best possible situation, and probably the least likely.
- Gray water. This is the water that people produce the most of in their day to day activities—showering, taking a bath, kitchen and bathroom sinks, and doing laundry. It’s water that contains dirt and other contaminants, thus it isn’t potable, but it isn’t toxic or disease-carrying. Gray water can safely be used to water lawns and gardens (unless it’s contaminated with strong detergents or other soaps).
- Black water. This is water that has come in contact with bodily waste, and thus could be potentially disease-carrying, due to harboring harmful microorganisms. Black water is biohazardous, and black water contamination should only be handled by a trained specialist.
Once we know how contaminated the water is, and have taken the necessary safety precautions, then we can thoroughly assess the level of damage to your property, and the presence of other construction materials that may be a safety hazard, such as asbestos or lead.
Step 2: Removing the water
If necessary, we can assist with removing any necessary items from the premises, and can provide cleaning and restoration services for most items. Once the area has been cleared, our technicians deploy sump pumps and industrial-grade wet vacuums to remove any standing water as quickly as possible.
Once the water has been extracted, then we can determine whether or not any existing carpeting or attached floor covering need to be removed in order to protect subflooring, and the extent of the damage to floors and walls. We have a variety of tools for detecting where moisture has penetrated, including infrared cameras, hygrometers, and other moisture detection systems. Water damage restoration companies that don’t make use of such equipment run the risk of performing restoration work, only for unnoticed water damage elsewhere to lead to mold and other serious health hazards that would require additional, expensive treatments.
Step 3: Drying structure materials and dehumidifying the environment
In order to salvage as much of your home or other structural property as possible, we have to ensure that all moisture is removed from construction materials. Wood flooring and drywall can look dry to the naked eye, but can retain a great deal of water without looking visibly moist. Without immediate remediation of this, long term damage such as swelling, warping, and the growth of mold can result.
Industrial grade fans and dehumidifiers are used to maintain constant air circulation to speed passive water evaporation, and to actively extract moisture from building surfaces and items within the affected area.
Step 4: Cleaning, deodorizing, and sanitizing affected surfaces and items
Drying alone isn’t enough. Think about the last time you left a load of laundry in the washer for a couple of days before you ran it through the dryer. Despite the clothes being dried, they retain the unpleasant, musty smell resulting from fungal and mildew growth.
The same is true of your home and the items in it affected by water damage. Additionally, without proper sanitization, hardy organisms and molds may continue to grow and spread, causing odors, unsightly stains, and ultimately, additional damage to your home and property.
We don’t just stop with your home—we offer full treatment services for irreplaceable personal items such as photographs, documents, paintings, and upholstered furniture.