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Understanding Water Damage Restoration

March 4, 2024

Understanding Water Damage Restoration

Water damage can be extremely destructive and costly if not addressed quickly and properly. As a home or business owner, it is important to understand the restoration process so you can make informed decisions when the unfortunate occurs. In this article, I will provide an in-depth look at water damage restoration from start to finish.

Assessing the Damage

The first step is to fully assess the extent of the water damage. This will determine the appropriate response.

Types of Water

Not all water damage is the same. The type of water causing damage is an important factor.

  • Clean water from sources like broken pipes or appliance leaks is the best case scenario. Although messy, clean water does not immediately threaten health.

  • Grey water from washing machines, showers, etc contains contaminants. It requires disinfection.

  • Black water from sewage or floods is unsanitary. It can cause illness and requires thorough cleansing.

Spread of Water

The amount of saturation must also be evaluated. Localized flooding in a basement room has less impact than water seeping under walls and floors. Spreading water can warp structures and encourage mold growth in hidden areas.

Secondary Damage

Water can also lead to secondary damage such as:

  • Warped or broken wood
  • Electrical malfunctions
  • Mold growth
  • Eroded materials

Any secondary damage needs to be identified and accounted for.

Drying Out Affected Areas

The top priority is to remove excess moisture. Wet materials provide an environment for mold and bacteria to flourish.

Extraction

Water extraction using specialty vacuums and pumps is necessary to pull water out of saturated materials like carpets, insulation, drywall, etc. This helps materials dry faster.

Dehumidifiers & Air Movers

Dehumidifiers help control moisture in the air and condense water for removal. Air movers circulate air to facilitate evaporation. These machines run 24/7 in the affected areas during the drying phase.

Monitoring Moisture

Moisture meters are used to monitor materials and ensure they dry out completely before reconstruction. Rushing this critical drying phase can cause major mold issues later.

Sanitizing & Disinfecting

Standing water requires sanitizing and disinfecting to remediate contaminants and prevent mold growth.

Cleaning Agents

EPA approved antimicrobials designed for water damage are used to sanitize the area. Bleach solutions can disinfect heavily saturated materials. Vinegar also helps counteract musty odors.

Air Purification

Air scrubbers with HEPA filtration remove airborne particles during cleaning. Ozone generators help sanitize the air. Air quality should be monitored afterwards.

Mold Inspection & Remediation

If significant mold is detected, specialized mold remediation is required. This involves protective gear, containment, material removal, biocides, HEPA vacuuming, and verification of spore-free air.

Reconstruction & Repairs

Once drying and sanitizing is complete, reconstruction efforts begin. This returns the structure to a livable condition.

Material Removal & Replacement

Severely damaged materials like drywall, insulation, and carpets need complete removal and replacement. Matching adjacent materials is ideal.

Surface Cleaning

Surfaces are washed with antimicrobial solutions and degreasers. Soft contents like bedding and curtains may require laundering or disposal.

Structural Repairs

Warped surfaces are smoothed and leveled. Damaged wood is repaired or replaced. Drywall and paint may need patching. Tiles or floors may need mudjacking to fix unevenness.

Equipment Restoration

Appliances and electronics are inspected and restored if water impacted connections or circuitry. Equipment may need replacing.

The Drying Environment

Proper temperature and humidity levels must be maintained during and after water restoration.

Heating & Air Conditioning

HVAC systems are used to control the environment and airflow. Excess humidity is removed with dehumidifiers.

Monitoring Conditions

Hygrometers monitor humidity levels and thermometers monitor temperature. Conditions must stay within IICRC recommended ranges.

Controlling Access

During the restoration process, access should be limited to mitigate humidity from opening doors. Leave HVAC running with doors secured.

Hiring Water Damage Professionals

Water damage often requires professional restoration for proper drying, remediation, structural repairs, and content restoration.

Experience & Reputation

Seek an established company with trained technicians, commercial drying equipment, and proper IICRC certification. Check reviews and reputation.

Immediate Response

Rapid response is crucial to minimize damage and begin restoration promptly. This requires 24/7 availability.

Full Services

Look for a “one-stop shop” providing complete mitigation, reconstruction, and content cleaning/restoration. This simplifies the process.

Itemized Estimate

Get an itemized estimate of services and costs upfront. Be wary of vague lump sum bids.

Insurance Guidance

Ask for help navigating the insurance claim process to get maximum reimbursement for restoration work.

Water damage can quickly spiral out of control if not handled properly. Understanding the technical restoration process allows you to make smart decisions during this stressful situation. With rapid response and proper restoration, water damage does not have to be a catastrophe. The right water mitigation company can manage the end-to-end process to get your property back to normal.

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