It was 7:45PM on Saturday evening in Rancho Murieta when we received a call. It was a water job. On the other end was a frantic realtor – one of her listings was flooded. Apparently the tenant who had recently been evicted for not paying rent (among other things) had broken back into the home and turned the upstairs shower and bathroom faucets on and then left locking the door behind them – vandalism. The neighbor heard the water running a few days later and called the home owner. That’s how we got the call.
Upon our arrival we walked into the house and found water running down through the master closet ceiling which had flooded the entire master bedroom, hallway, master bathroom and part of the laundry room. This was now a category 2 class 3 water loss and if we didn’t get equipment in there quickly it would soon turn into a category 3 loss with the possibility of mold damage. As soon as we opened the door we were greeted by the same musty smell that you get with any water job if left for a few days to ripen. Bacteria was already multiplying under the carpet and carpet pad, baseboards were already swollen as was the built-in shelving in the master closet. The laminate flooring was buckling at the edges of each board and the photo finish was also starting to bubble. We knew we couldn’t save the floors and they would need to come up. Typically we can save most hardwood floors with our floor drying mats and dehumidification equipment, but laminate floors are a different kettle of fish.
After getting the homeowner’s authorization, we got to work. We removed both the carpet and padding; we removed all the baseboards and built-in shelving and cut out the master closet ceiling to dry the sub floor of the second story. It is sometimes important to remove parts of the structure that would normally take too long to dry, this way it prevents the need later for mold removal work. We removed all the wet laminate flooring and underlay cushioning and drilled holes into the exterior walls so we could ensure the base plates and insulation dried efficiently. After removing all the non-salvageable materials we added our drying equipment. We added a total of two large industrial dehumidifiers, ten air movers (large fans), and a HEPA500 air filtration device to pick up any airborne particles disturbed by the other equipment. The air movers remove the humid air directly above the water damaged structure (walls and floors), while the dehumidifiers pull the moisture from the air at a maximum rate of 200 pints per day (per unit). This promotes fast evaporation and drying of all structure and contents in the area. There were a lot of wet cabinets in the bathroom and laundry which we dried with the use of our DriForce units which inject hot dry air into small holes drilled into the base of the cabinets. This approach prevents us from having to remove the water damaged cabinets and drying them in place is extremely cost effective saving the insurance company money.
After we removed the sheetrock ceiling in the master closet we discovered the source of all the water. The 2 inch drainpipe attached to the upstairs shower drain assembly wasn’t securely attached and once we dropped the ceiling the drainpipe came loose from the assembly. The entire thing was missing the caulking gasket and caulking nut – an expensive plumbing mistake. According to the plumber who was called out to fix this blunder there was meant to be a trap door of some sort in the ceiling too to make it up to code – there was no trap door to access the drain pipe or assembly.
We also came to find out later that the home owner had recently upgraded the bathroom floor with wood flooring. She was under the impression that she had received solid hardwood flooring because that’s what she had paid for. It wasn’t solid wood flooring; it was laminate, which is why we couldn’t save it. Needless to say the homeowner isn’t impressed and will be contacting that contractor who tried to mislead her. Something to keep in mind, always ask for a small piece of the flooring to keep in a safe place when you have work done. It serves two purposes: it proves you got what you paid for and it helps mitigation companies like PuroClean when it comes time to making a judgment call on whether to save it or remove it.
The entire drying process for this Rancho Murieta water damaged home will take between 3 and 4 days and we will monitor it daily. As areas dry, equipment will either be removed or repositioned to other areas that are taking a bit longer to dry. Once everything is dry we will give the go-ahead to the construction company and they will replace carpet, pad, sheetrock, baseboards and the laminate flooring. The entire loss will be covered by the homeowners insurance and in all likelihood they will subrogate it against the last tenants if they can prove vandalism.
Oh, and the locks were changed too…
This Rancho Murieta water job was completed a few weeks ago and everything was perfectly dry. As I mentioned above the plumber had already fixed the incorrectly installed shower drain line and everything was ready for the contractor to put sheetrock back and new flooring. Last week I received a call from the same realtor – the landscape contractor had decided to turn the water mains back on because the grass was turning brown and the empty home flooded once again. Unfortunately because the water mains were off the plumber couldn’t check that his fix had corrected the problem, it had, but there was a secondary problem with the drain pan in the upstairs shower. No-one noticed the water flooding the home once again until the realtor went to check on things a week later and was greeted by running water once again.
We responded immediately, but unfortunately the walls had been wet for longer than 7 days and they had to be cut out, as this was a category 3 water loss. The only fortunate thing was the rebuild from the prior water damage loss hadn’t begun yet, so there was no more damaged flooring, but we did have to remove the upstairs shower and cut out additional wet sheetrock. After spraying the remaining materials like subfloor and studs with anti-microbial we added our drying equipment once again and dried the home. Insurance will now need to pay for a new upstairs shower too.