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Tips for Handling Water Damage
Damage to your home can be an extremely overwhelming situation for any homeowner. It can also be very difficult to know what to do to handle the situation properly. Water damages are one of the most common homeowner's claims, so it's a good idea to keep a few common tips in the back of your mind in case you find yourself with unwanted water in your home.
1. First Steps
The first thing you should do in the event of water damage is locate the water source and ensure that the flow of water has been stopped. Cleanup can't happen if water is still actively pouring into the home. After the water has been stopped, it's a good idea to cut the power to the home if there is any standing water. Obviously, electricity and water can make a dangerous combination. If either of these tasks puts you at risk, wait for a professional. Finally, as long as it's safe, take as many pictures as possible before starting any potential DIY cleanup. You'll want to start cleaning right away if possible, but you'll also want your insurance company to be able to see the initial extent of the damage before any cleaning occurred. Once pictures have been taken and the area has been deemed safe, remove as much standing water as possible and set fans to begin the drying process.
2. Consider Volume and Source
If you're thinking about trying to do the cleanup on your own, you'll want to consider the volume and the source of the water. A tiny patch of clean water is usually something that can be handled in-house, but a basement flooded with sewage needs to be handled by a professional. It's important to remember, though, that even small amounts of water can hide in cracks and crevices and within porous materials creating the perfect breeding ground for mold and mildew if not dried completely. As far as the water source, if the water is grey or black, it should never be handled on your own. These waters contain contaminants that need to be properly cleaned to ensure the safety of the home and everyone in it.
3. Call Insurance
If you've determined that the issue is beyond the scope of your abilities to handle, it's time to contact your insurance company. You'll want to determine what kind of coverage you have for the loss and what your deductible is. If you decide to file a claim, you'll be assigned an adjuster to handle it. Often your insurance company will put you in touch with a preferred restoration vendor, but sometimes they'll advise you to find one on your own.
4. Contact Restoration Service
A restoration professional will work directly with your insurance company and you to ensure the job is done properly. A project manager or technician will assess the damage and help determine the most appropriate course of action. Standing water will be extracted and drying equipment will be set right away so the damage doesn't become worse. Once everything is dry, unsalvageable materials will be removed and everything else will be cleaned and sanitized to prepare for reconstruction.
Frequently Asked Questions about Water Damage
A good portion of water damage can be prevented by proper household maintenance. Routine plumbing maintenance as well as sump pump and appliance maintenance are effective ways to avoid preventable damages. If you live in a cold climate, preparing your home for the winter can also help avoid damage. Finally, it’s a good idea to regularly check the exterior of your home, particularly your roof, for damage to ensure water isn’t unexpectedly leaking into your home.
Water damage insurance claims depend on a few different criteria. Ultimately, that's a question you'll have to clarify with your insurance company. However, we can tell you that the viability of water damage insurance claims depends primarily on what caused the damage (storm, burst pipe, plumbing malfunction, localized flood, sump pump failure, etc.). Some insurance policies will outline scenarios that will NOT be covered without specific riders like flood insurance, or sump pump failure insurance.
Contacting a restoration contractor as well as your insurance adjuster at the same time is a good idea, because the restoration contractor will help make sure that not only will the water extraction and dry out be covered, but the rebuild process that should follow. If the full scope of the claim isn't outlined and agreed upon from the start, there may be issues down the line, and property owners may find themselves having to pay out of pocket to get the property completely back to normal.
That depends on the types of materials that were affected by water. Drywall, carpet, and hardwood floors will take longer to dry than other materials in the space. We use moisture meters throughout the process and in many different locations to gauge the moisture levels and will continue to adjust our fans and dehumidifiers to achieve an efficient but effective dry time. The bare minimum of "three days to dry" may only produce a surface dry, but can still leave behind moisture levels that create an ideal environment for mold to grown.
Most homeowners start trying to remove the water themselves before they realize they'll need to contact their insurance company about a claim so they can call in a water damage restoration company. However, standing water around anything with a power cord or outlet or sagging ceilings make the area unsafe. Also, many insurance claims require documentation of the loss BEFORE any work is done, including removing the water. Always take plenty of photos of the damage you see before taking any action to start cleaning up the mess. Your restoration contractor will be able to back up your insurance claim scope with the necessary technical documentation as well.
If the water damage involves Category 1 water (clean and free of microbes and bacteria), many of your personal belongings can be salvaged. Category 2 water would include other water sources, including rainwater, that, while not containing biohazards or sewage, still pose health risks and the potential for destructive microbial growth and mold. A water damage restoration technician will help you sort through the contents of the property to determine what can be safely dried, what can be restored by a textile/contents technician, and what can't be saved or salvaged. There are off-site facilities in the area that specialize in restoring water-damaged contents. Your restoration team will document all of the contents leaving the property for restoration or disposal for your records and also for reimbursement from your insurance company.
Identifying the source of the water damage is one of the first steps in both the insurance claim process but also before beginning to dry out and repair the damaged areas. After all, if you replace a sagging, wet ceiling that was caused by a roof leak but don't fix the roof, too, the next rainstorm will start the cycle all over again. The buckling to your hardwood floor could be caused by a leaking pipe. We will pinpoint the exact cause of your water damage and make sure the source is repaired. We make sure your restoration job is done right the first time.