How to Fix Home Water Damage

Posted by Matt Buchanan

Wow, we’ve tackled a lot of situations through our water damage blog so this is probably biting off more than we can chew. That said, it’s a new year and at RestorationEze we’re looking to take everything we do to the next level. That not only means providing the absolute best water damage restoration services in the country, but also making our blog articles even more useful and comprehensive. So while there’s literally books written on how to fix water damage in homes, let’s at least try to bite off the main aspects in this article!


Fixing Home Water Damage The Right Way


Water damage companies are not all the sameAs our regular readers can attest to, we spend a lot of time talking about the right way to cleanup water damage. Why? For a number of reasons, but mostly because no states require any sort of licensing from water damage mitigation companies. That, combined with the fact that most jobs are paid for by insurers, means there are a lot of ‘companies’ operating as water mitigation professionals that frankly have no business even being in your home, much less providing such a vital service. So when we talk about the ‘right way’ to fix water damage, what we mean is doing it in accordance with the strict standards set forth in the ANSI/IICRC S5oo Manual. This is the grail of our industry, and yet many supposed water damage companies have never even owned a copy, much less studied it.


What type of water damaged your home?


Within our industry, we categorize water damage according to the likelihood that exposure to the water will make you sick. Category 1 water damage is from clean water (think of a supply line to your sink leaking. That water is clean and won’t make you sick. Category 2 water damage is what we called grey water, and it has a slight potential to make you ill. An example of this would be if your dishwasher overflowed. The water isn’t clean, as it contains chemicals and other agents that could possibly make you sick if you were to ingest the water accidentally. A category 3 water loss is considered the most dangerous, as there is a high likelihood of the water containing harmful pathogens that can make you sick. The obvious example here is a sewage backup.



Why does the water category matter?


For a couple of reasons. One, the category will determine what level of protective gear will need to be worn. Walking into a basement full of sewage without wearing head-to-toe protective gear is an absolute no-no. But it also determines the appropriate approach to the loss. For instance, if you have a sewer backup and the water touches your carpet, that carpet must be removed and replaced. It can’t be cleaned. Sadly, because there are so many shoddy water restoration contractors out there, many have no problem breaking protocol and just cleaning the carpet and pad, completely oblivious to the fact that doing so puts your health at risk!


What surfaces were affected?


water-damage-to-laminate-flooringWater damage can happen anywhere in a home. While there are certain areas of a home more prone to water damage (namely those that house plumbing appliances that can malfunction), anywhere can fall under attack. But depending on the surface type (and location) greatly determines the appropriate actions to take. For instance, did your walls get wet? If they’re interior walls, it may be possible to use a wall cavity drying system to dry out the cavity (and surface). But if it was an exterior wall, it probably means your insulation got soaked. At that point, insulation is ruined, so a portion of the drywall will need to be cut out so the insulation can be removed before drying can take place.

Did you have laminate floors get wet? Then they’re ruined. That’s correct, they can’t be dried. Laminate floors are nothing more than paper glued down to a sub-surface. Once that paper gets wet, it’s ruined.

So now that you understand some of the questions that must be answered when assessing your home’s water damage emergency, let’s talk through the procedures commonly taken to combat water damage!


The water damage restoration process explained



As we’ve hopefully laid out above, there’s a hundred of different scenarios that can play out when it comes to your water damage. There is no cookie cutter approach. We have to make that point clear. Every situation will dictate the proper response, but unless you’re a certified water damage restoration technician, you probably aren’t going to know what that response should be. With that disclaimer said, let’s at least discuss the common procedures that should be implemented when water mitigation services are required.


Item removal or pack-out services

The initial step is to remove furniture, boxes or other household items that either got wet or are in danger of getting wet. In many cases, items will be packed-out and taken to an offsite warehouse where further drying and restoration processes can be done.


Assess moisture levels

Moisture-Detection-wall-floorIn other words, find the water. Where has it gone? That might seem like an easy question to answer, but in reality is presents a lot of challenges for even seasoned pros. Water travels through surfaces, meaning it can travel up a wall or through a wall or floor and into another area of your home. In most cases, you can’t feel the wetness, but rather have to use moisture detection systems to find where the water has traveled. Only then do you know where the moisture has found a home and thus where you need to focus later phases of the project.


Water extraction – removing standing water

This is fairly straightforward: get out any standing water. Pumps and hoses as well as a variety of water removal systems are used during this phase of the process.


Combat mold

If you don’t know already, the most pervasive threat when a home water damage emergency occurs is black mold. If you can’t address the moisture problem pretty much immediately, you’re going to end up with black mold. Why? Because drying times are often longer than the time it takes mold to grow once surfaces get wet. So one step in the water damage restoration process is making sure you inhibit mold’s growth so you can dry things before the mold takes over. The most common application is called Concrobium, which can be purchased at your local home improvement store.


Dry the property

water-damage-drying-dry-standardWe like to think of this step as where the rubber meets the road. There are so many nuances to proper structural drying that it would be impossible to address in a single blog post, but the long and short of this phase is that all wet surfaces must be returned to dry levels quickly. As part of that, dehumidifiers must be used to capture the evaporated moisture before it it simply spreads to other areas of the home and gets them wet. We’ve blogged about it before, but every surface must quickly be returned to it’s ‘Dry Standard‘.


Water damage repair

Within our industry, we refer to the final phase as ‘reconstruction’ or the ‘rebuild’ phase. Basically this means putting your home back together if we had to tear out carpets, remove cabinetry, etc.


Hopefully this brief tutorial has helped you understand some of the major factors that contribute to water damage mitigation services, along with a basic understanding of the steps we usually take to fix homes after water damage. If we can be of further assistance, please don’t hesitate to call us and schedule a free in-home cost estimate for your water damage emergency!

About Matt Buchanan

I grew up in Irving, TX and left for Nashville, TN for college. After college I lived in Washington, DC and then in Cairo, Egypt. After coming back to the states, I spent a couple of years back in Dallas before moving with my wife to Denver!
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