Water damage! What should I do?

Whether you simply neglected a running bath too long or the recent storm soaked your carpet in water several feet deep; repairing water damage requires immediate and deliberate action on the part of the homeowner. People frequently fail to take the appropriate steps to repair water damage out of fear of the expense.  

Image of woman on phone to water damage company

Help with home water damage

Indeed, water damage restoration may be an expensive process but cost varies widely depending on the severity of the damage and how quickly the homeowner decides to do something about it. Water damage clean up is not fun. However, failure to act against water damage can jeopardize the value of your home, your greatest asset, and even put the health of your family at risk. So if you are sitting at home now looking at a flooded basement or a soaked carpet and wondering what you do, take it one step at a time and work your way through this 9 step action plan: 

1. Shut off your electricity. Be wary of power failure as the power can suddenly come back on. 

2. Check your walls for signs of structural damage. Drywall doesn’t like lots of water and prolonged exposure to moisture can lead to both rot and mold.  

3. Turn off gas to the house. It is better safe than sorry.   

4. Take pictures for insurance purposes. This is good just in case you decide to file a claim. If you are going to report it you want to do it within the first 24 hours but don’t call your insurance company just yet. More on this a little later.  

5. Get rid of the water. Pails may work for some jobs. Rent a pump to remove large quantities or check to see if your fire department can pump it for you. Be aware that quick removal could cause a cave-in. Shovel out any muck and hose down walls and floors to clear the silt. If the water level is not high, use a mop or wet/dry vacuum to remove as much water as possible. Many supermarkets rent wet/dry vacuums that can do a good job.   

6. Deal with wet carpets.Once the water is gone, you have to contend with wet carpets. If you were unfortunate enough to be flooded by sewage, river water or saltwater, I am sorry to tell you that your carpets are going straight into a dumpster. If your floor was is carpeted and you were flooded by clean water, lift up the carpet and discard the carpet pad (this is cheap to replace). Then elevate the carpet on blocks or something that won’t absorb moisture, in order to dry it. Once water is removed, you have a 48- to 72-hour window to clean, dry and sanitize the floor and furnishings before mold starts to grow. Mold is not something you want to play around with. Mold destroys building materials and can trigger allergies and cause flu-like illnesses. Once it starts to grow, most items simply aren’t salvageable. 

7. Dry out the affected area.Get the carpets and floors and affected ceilings, if any, BONE DRY. Close off the affected area, set up a dehumidifier and multiple fans. If your carpet isn’t completely dry within 48-72 hours of getting wet, discard it as mold will render your carpet useless. Take a sniff check if you have doubts about how much time has passed. Machine wash or dry clean area rugs. to prevent discoloration or bleeding, you should place plastic or aluminum foil under wooden furniture legs. If your ceilings are soaked and sagging from the weight of water, you can punch tiny holes in the ceiling to relieve the trapped water.  Just make sure you place something underneath the holes beforehand that can collect the trapped water. 

I should mention at this point that most normal people do not have access to the kind of professional equipment to do this step well, and it really helps to call a water damage restoration company for this task. Your house may feel like summer in Las Vegas and look like a construction zone for 2 or 3 days but it is better to be safe than sorry. Accidents happen. See below for more on hiring water damage restoration experts. 

8. Check your walls.Gut wet walls, because wallboard, paneling, insulation and other such building materials will not dry quickly enough to prevent mold and rot. Toss anything that is not completely dry within 48-72 hours.   

9. Restoration.Once the affected area is bone dry, the homeowner should begin the process of putting his house back together again including wallboard, insulation, ceilings, carpet pads, and carpets. For those who are handy or blessed with handy spouses, it could be a matter of running to Home Depot. For most of us, however, it will involve dealing with a water damage repair expert, reputable handyman or several contractors depending on the damage: carpenters, drywall experts, painters, and floor/carpet professionals.  

Advice about Water Damage Contractors and Insurance:How to choose your contractor. Water damage restoration experts know that time is on their side and they will press you to make a decision quickly. Nonetheless, you should seek whenever possible to get at least two cost estimates before making a decision on a contractor for the job. Don’t be shy about asking questions and investigating inconsistencies between the advices of different contractors. When selecting a contractor, look for qualities like speed, competence in water cleanup practices and certification or training in water damage restoration and mold remediation. Do yourself a favor before you pull the trigger on an estimate, look up the contractor’s report with your local Better Business Bureau. 

Insurance: to file or not to file. That is the question. Though some may disagree, I would wait until you get those cost estimates from the water damage restoration experts before deciding whether or not to file a claim with your insurance company. Most restoration companies can be on the scene within a few hours depending on the location of the disaster. Depending on the size of your deductible, you may be better off just keeping this to yourself. I hope that this article has been helpful to you. I would appreciate any comments, suggestions, or additional recommendations you would care to make.

About Dan Camara

Dan Camara is the CEO of PuroClean Home Rescue in Sacramento. We have been helping the good folks of Northern California with water damage dryouts, mold removal and fire cleanups for nearly 5 years now. Connect with me on Google+
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4 Responses to Water damage! What should I do?

  1. Peter French says:

    What a great blog guys. I really liked this post on how to handle water damage. It makes a great checklist for people in case they have a flood and find themselves in a difficult situation.

  2. Sammy Otoman says:

    We have used you guys before and you guys use only the most up to date water removal and restoration equipment, designed to remove the water from your home as quickly as possible without causing further damage to the structure. Through the use of submersible pumps, wet-dry vacuum units, blowers, and dehumidifiers, you provided a quality water damage restoration job. Well done guys.

  3. Pingback: Removing water damage from hardwood floors

  4. Miami Water Damage says:

    Excellent! Great content and very well written post about Water Damage. I am really inspired from your blog hoping you will be there with more interesting post like this.

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