Once the water has found its way into your living area, it can do significant damage. Your carpets, furniture, and possessions will likely be damaged beyond repair. Wooden floors can warp, and the drywall in your ceilings and walls will become discolored and distorted.
While the damage to your house and belongings is severe, the health risks associated with water damage are far more worrisome. There are three categories of water damage of which you need to be aware:
- Category 1: damage from a clean water source such as toilet tanks or a broken pipe
- Category 2: damage from “grey water” from an appliance containing detergents
- Category 3: completely unsanitary water from sewage, river flooding, and standing water that has begun growing bacteria and other microbes
Also, mold is likely to form after water gets into your home. If emergency water removal is not started quickly, mold will thrive and spread, causing a host of health issues that may include infections, chronic coughing, breathing problems, and headaches.
What are the steps in responding to emergency water damage?
There are typically five steps in the process, completed by an emergency water damage restoration service:
Step 1: Inspect the damage
You will need a professional to assess the extent of the water damage in your home. Each inspection determines the class of water damage. There are four classes:
- Class 1 is the least amount of damage, such as a portion of a room that has absorbed little moisture
- Class 2 damage means water has been absorbed into carpeting and walls in an entire room
- Class 3 damage has absorbed into the walls and perhaps the ceiling, saturating most of the area
- Class 4 damage requires specialized drying because of damage to materials such as hardwood, stone, and concrete
Step 2: Water removal
The restoration service will use pumps and vacuums to remove water from your home. The extent of the water damage will determine the type of equipment they use. Emergency water removal must start as soon as possible to prevent mold and bacteria growth.
Step 3: Drying the home
Once the pumping and vacuuming operations are completed, it is time to dry out and dehumidify the interior. This step removes any remaining moisture, although the drying process can take up to several weeks to complete.
Step 4: Emergency water cleanup
All your personal belongings must be cleaned and sanitized to prevent mold and bacterial growth. Carpeting, clothing, and drapery are given antimicrobial treatments. They might also use air scrubbers to remove airborne particles and moisture.
Step 5: Restoration
Not surprisingly, restoration is the primary step in the process. It involves time-consuming operations such as replacing drywall, flooring, and insulation. Sometimes all that is needed is to replace a few panels of drywall, while other times, it could be entire walls and ceiling. In older homes, toxic materials such as asbestos and lead can cause the restoration to take even longer. If there are hidden leaks, mold will grow and delay the emergency water repair.
Are there steps a homeowner can take to limit emergency water damage?
Depending on the kind of flooding you have, there are some things you can do to help control the damage. For example, if your washer is flooding, turn off the electricity and water if you can do it safely. If you act quickly, the cleanup may merely involve removing the standing water and drying out the area.
If a pipe bursts, you can shut off the main valve and immediately call a plumber to repair the leak. If you can, turn off the electricity to prevent water from coming into contact with live current.
Speed is of the essence
Whatever the cause of your home being flooded, you need to act quickly to remove all contaminated and wet materials from your home. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends discarding materials that have not been thoroughly cleaned and dried within 24 to 48 hours of water damage.
By removing these materials, you can reduce the ability of dangerous microorganisms to multiply and spread. You will also improve air quality within the home and make the restoration process more manageable. After you have removed the contaminated and wet materials, contact someone to inspect your home and begin the restoration process.