HomeownerEducational: N-Z

Water Damage Restoration

Water Damage Restoration Educational Content

Water damage accounts for nearly a quarter of all homeowners’ insurance claims in the US. According to the Insurance Information Institute, an average water damage claim costs over $10,000. Because even a relatively small amount of water can do a lot of damage, you need to have homeowners’ insurance with water damage coverage. A typical homeowners’ insurance policy covers clean water damage that results from defects like bad plumbing or a leaky roof. Coverage for sewage damage usually requires an additional rider. You’ll need a separate flood insurance policy to cover water damage from an outside source. The cause could be anything from excessive water runoff to an overflowing river. You can go through a private flood insurance provider or the government-run National Flood Insurance Program.

Regular inspections and maintenance around the house can reduce the possibility of water intrusion. Periodically check for leaks, cracks, or water stains in bathrooms, kitchens, and basements. Consider installing a water usage monitoring device or water sensors in your home.

Change the hoses and check the seals on appliances that use water, like the dishwasher and washing machine. Temperature extremes can cause plumbing parts such as rubber seals and wax rings to wear out faster than normal. If you live in an area with very hot or very cold weather, be diligent about plumbing inspections. On your home’s exterior, keep the gutters and downspouts clear. Check for cracks on outside walls and around the foundation. Be sure to also locate and label the main water shutoff valve.

It’s a good idea to have a household emergency file. This file should have copies of important documents, like your home insurance policy, as well as an inventory of your belongings. Photo or video documentation of everything you own is helpful after disasters. Receipts from major purchases, like appliances and furniture, can help, too. Keep document originals in a safe-deposit box or other secure location.

When you’re faced with a water intrusion emergency, first try to determine the source of the water. If the water is coming from a broken pipe inside the house, shut off the water supply at the main valve. The main shutoff valve is usually located in a utility room or near your water heater. Once the water has been shut off, then call a water damage remediation contractor. Help should be on its way soon. Companies that offer emergency service will send someone out right away, no matter the day or time. That person will assess the damage and give you a written estimate for the cleanup and repair.

In the meantime, be very careful about your safety. If you have any concerns about the structural integrity of your home, stay outside. Do not turn on appliances or electrical devices, such as televisions or stereo systems, if they are wet. If a room’s ceiling is wet, do not turn on the overhead light or ceiling fan. Stay out of rooms with wet ceilings that are sagging. If possible, hang up any wet fabrics. To help prevent stains on wet carpet, pick up any rugs, books, or stacks of paper on the floor.

After removing the standing water, the cleanup technician will check for areas of trapped water and take steps to fully dry those spots. Even after the standing water is gone, some surfaces may still be damp. Materials such as drywall and wood are porous. That means that even if water can’t be seen from the outside, it could still exist below the surface layer. If dampness persists, toxic mold can start to grow. This is a concern, especially with cellulose-based building materials. Under the right conditions, a mold colony can begin in as little as 48 hours. In addition to the danger of mold growth, retained water can cause major damage to your house. Walls and floors can warp, swell, and crack, for example.

For a quick and efficient drying process, water damage specialists use fans and dehumidifiers. These powerful machines will completely dry any wet or damp areas—even those that are hard to reach. The industrial-grade equipment works faster than residential versions. This means that there’s less time for mold to start growing. During the drying process, the technicians will monitor affected areas with moisture meters. This ensures that everything is drying as it should. Your house and belongings may need to be cleaned in addition to being dried. Most water damage specialists have a variety of cleaning techniques and sanitizing treatments that they can use. Standing water and wet materials often take on a less-than-pleasant odor. Technicians can use air-scrubbing machines and deodorizers to remove any unpleasant smells.

Disasters can be expensive, but trying to save as many of your belongings as possible can help save money in the long run. Acting quickly can increase the chances the heirlooms and irreplaceable items can be saved. Most water damage restoration companies will remove and properly dispose of items that cannot be saved.

The ultimate goal of water damage repair is to return your home to its original condition. If the damage to your house is severe, you may need to also take advantage of restoration services. Restoration services can include putting your belongings in storage during demolition and reconstruction. It may be necessary to repair or replace walls or flooring. In cases of extensive damage, complete reconstruction of a space might be necessary. Most water damage companies offer these services, too. That means you won’t need to seek out and schedule more contractors.

It’s important to begin the drying process as quickly as possible after a water emergency. But if it’s possible, take the time to hire a reputable water damage restoration company. Restoration services must be done correctly the first time to avoid recurring problems.

There are currently no regulations governing water damage restoration procedures. However, the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) set a procedural standard that most companies follow. The IICRC S500 guide outlines reliable practices and precautions that water damage restoration crews should follow.