Return to the Blog Home Page

Can Wet Carpet Be Rescued?

Tuesday, December 1st, 2020
wet carpet

It might not be obvious after a typical water damage incident, but a wet carpet alone isn’t a major issue. By itself, a thoroughly saturated carpet will actually retain only a few ounces of water per square foot. Unfortunately, there’s more than carpeting covering your floor and it’s the padding beneath the carpet that’s the main problem.

An absorbent sponge, capable of retaining multiple gallons of water for an extended time period, soaked carpet padding exacerbates damage and complicates successful drying of a wet carpet.  

Can both carpet and the problematic padding beneath it be rescued after an indoor water damage incident? Two variables are the major factors in whether or not a wet carpet and padding are good candidates for salvaging following water damage:

Origin of the Water

All water damage is not equal. Where it comes from matters when it comes to rescuing a wet carpet.

  • A carpet flooded by a clean source like a broken water supply line that is professionally treated within 24 to 48 hours after the event can usually be successfully dried in place along with the padding underneath.
  • Category 2 water (so-called “gray water”) from mildly toxic sources like an overflowing washing machine or dishwasher typically necessitates replacement of the padding while the carpet itself can be cleaned, disinfected, and re-installed.
  • A wet carpet soaked by Category 3 “black water” from a sewage backup or outdoor flooding is non-salvageable and must be discarded and replaced along with the padding beneath.

Elapsed Time Since Water Damage

A carpet collects dormant bacteria and airborne mold spores that require only moisture plus time to activate and begin spreading contamination. If a wet carpet is professionally treated within the critical 48-hour timespan, and proven decontamination techniques, along with technology like high-powered water extractors are utilized, both carpet and padding may be rescued before mold growth occurs. If not, carpet mold contamination is presumptive and usually requires removal and disposal of the padding, then anti-microbial treatment of the carpet as well as installation of new padding.  

3 Ways Humidity Can Damage Your Home

Friday, November 27th, 2020
humidity damage

High humidity inside a home might be defined as moisture damage waiting to happen. While low humidity and chronically dry conditions also have consequences, moisture damage due to high humidity is generally a more widespread problem.

Most experts recommend keeping indoor humidity levels in the range of 30% to 60%. In many locales, however, Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate with published guidelines and outdoor levels frequently exceed the recommended 60%. In addition, activities inside the house, such as cooking, bathing, and even breathing, contribute additional water vapor to the air and compound the effects of the outdoor humidity. 

Here are three ways humidity can inflict moisture damage on your home:

Toxic Mold Growth

Most dormant mold types are triggered into active growth mode once indoor humidity averages 60% or above for sustained periods. Mold growth typically first begins in dark areas with little air circulation and mold-friendly temperatures above 55 degrees. The most common areas of initial mold contamination are basements, crawl spaces, and attics.

However, mold doesn’t stay where it starts. Airborne reproductive spores rapidly spread contamination throughout the house wherever moisture exists. Moisture damage caused by growing mold affects building materials like wooden structure and drywall, and also infects insulation and carpeting. Toxic airborne spores may also cause allergic reactions and illness in susceptible persons who inhale the spores.

Paint and Wallpaper Damage

The large flat surfaces of walls inside a home are generally cooler than the air temperature inside the house. As humid indoor air contacts the cool wall surface, condensation occurs. Moisture damage, including flaking paint and peeling wallpaper, result from repeated cycles of dampness and drying. Simply repainting a wall or applying new wallpaper does not resolve the issue of humidity-related moisture damage.  

Floor Damage

Wood floors may be susceptible to irreversible moisture damage due to elevated humidity. While this process doesn’t happen rapidly, even expensive hardwood floors can be affected by long-term exposure to high indoor water vapor. As wood naturally absorbs moisture, it swells and expands. Boards in the floor and elsewhere react to pressure from this expansion and may warp, crack, or cup.  

5 Signs of Water Leaks Inside Walls

Tuesday, November 24th, 2020
water leaks inside walls

The problem with hidden water leaks inside walls is the “hidden” aspect. Household water supply lines routed through walls are usually 1/2-inch or 3/4-inch pipes under a typical residential water pressure of 40 to 60 pounds per square inch. A total rupture of a supply line inside a wall becomes conspicuous very rapidly and typically warrants emergency service by a qualified professional plumber.

On the other hand, slow seepage and drips due to leaky pipe joints, internal pipe corrosion, and other small sources may continue unnoticed and unabated for some time. Eventually, however, these initially minor leaks may progress to a major rupture that can’t be ignored.

Unseen water leaks inside walls don’t mean that significant damage isn’t already ongoing. Potential consequences of ongoing water leaks include:

  • Rotted internal wooden structure
  • Deteriorated drywall
  • Ruined insulation inside the wall
  • Damage to electrical wiring and other components
  • Toxic mold growth that spreads contamination to other parts of the home

Here are five initially subtle signs that may indicate water leaks inside walls:

  • Musty odors. Wet wood, drywall, and insulation inside the wall cavity rapidly become a starting point for toxic mold. One of the characteristic signs of mold contamination inside walls is a pungent musty odor that pervades the immediate area and doesn’t go away.   
  • Visible mold on walls. Drywall is absorbent. Moisture absorbed from hidden leaks inside the wall may permeate the material and trigger visible mold growth on the exterior surface of the wall. Mold may appear as a mottled discoloration on the wall.
  • Unexplained stains. Water permeating drywall from the inside may also create noticeable stains or darkening of the wall surface.   
  • Peeling paint or wallpaper. Chronic moisture present inside the wall deteriorates paint and dissolves wallpaper adhesive on the outside of the wall. Peeling paint or wallpaper that no longer adheres in a certain spot can be a giveaway of water leaks inside the wall.
  • Wall deformation. As saturation from hidden water leaks spreads throughout drywall material, the wall may appear to sag or bend. At that point, the drywall may be structurally unsound and in danger of collapsing.

Four Tips for Minimizing Water Damage to Wood Floors

Thursday, November 19th, 2020
water damage to wood floors

Hardwood floors are at special risk in the event of water damage inside a house. While vinyl, linoleum, and tile are water-resistant to a variable extent, wood’s natural absorbency often makes these floors ground zero for damage due to water exposure.

While most hardwood floors have a sealant coating, sealant retards water absorption but will not indefinitely stop it. Where an incident is limited to shallow pooling on the floor of a single room, prompt do-it-yourself action may limit floor damage. However, greater water volume —or wider spread inside the house—should be promptly handled by water damage recovery professionals.  

Here are four DIY steps to take to minimize water damage to hardwood floors:

  • Remove water fast. If you have a wet/dry vacuum, this is the best method to quickly remove pooling water. Otherwise, use mops and towels to pick up water. If there’s an exterior door nearby, a floor squeegee or push broom may be utilized to quickly push water outside.
  • Wash the floor. Fill a bucket with soapy water and a common household disinfectant and scrub the floor with a stiff brush. Rinse the brush in the bucket frequently. What you’re doing is removing dust and dirt containing organic residue that feeds mold growth frequently triggered by water damage to wood floors.
  • Dry slowly. Air-dry the floor with fans and natural airflow from open windows or doors. If you have a dehumidifier or opt to rent one, keep it running continuously. However, don’t utilize heaters to accelerate drying, as this may cause wood to splinter. Continue the drying process for a minimum of 24 hours. Many experts recommend drying a wood floor for up to four days.
  • Reapply finishing coat and sealant after total drying is confirmed.

Caveats

  • Concave or convex warping (known as “cupping”) may affect individual hardwood boards. If this effect is mild, affected boards may be sanded to restore a flat floor surface. More severe cupping—or other damage such as splitting—requires replacement of individual boards.
  • If portions of the floor are discolored by water exposure, these areas will require staining to match the original floor.

Water Damage and Indoor Air Quality

Tuesday, November 17th, 2020

indoor air quality

Tainted indoor air quality is a frequent and significant side-effect of home water damage. Breathing in the indoor environment can be affected by numerous processes that are triggered by water exposure. Contaminated air can, in some cases, make a water-damaged house hazardous to enter until professional water damage remediation has rendered it safe and healthy once more. Pungent odors, though less dangerous, can certainly make a home unpleasant to occupy, as well.

Here’s a brief overview of indoor air quality issues resulting from water damage.

Mold Contamination

Water damage and toxic mold often go hand-in-hand as moisture contacts dormant mold spores present inside any structure. Once triggered by water, these dormant spores convert into active growing mold. Millions of airborne microscopic reproductive spores containing mycotoxins are subsequently released. Concentrated in the enclosed indoor environment, active spores inhaled by individuals with certain sensitivities may trigger physical reactions ranging from allergic symptoms to chronic illness.  

In addition to toxic air, active mold growth (and its cousin, mildew) is well-known for its pervasive musty odor that tends to penetrate all parts of the home. Professional deodorizing methods are usually required to remove the lingering odor after mold remediation.

Airborne Toxins

Water is the universal solvent. When a house is affected by water damage, paint, glues, carpeting, and other substances that become saturated may release toxic fumes like volatile organic compounds, solvents, and other chemical vapors. Airborne microorganisms, including viruses and bacteria, also breed very efficiently in a wet indoor environment and contaminate air quality.   

Black Water

Not all water damage is equal. Water that originates from a sewage backup or inundation from outdoor flooding is Category 3 water—known as “black water”—and classified as a biohazard to humans. This noxious water carries fecal matter and other organic material that contains living and dead bacteria. Airborne endotoxins released by black water are dangerous pathogens that typically infect indoor air and cause severe respiratory illness when inhaled. Any Category 3 water is a health threat that should only be handled by trained water damage professionals with proper biohazard techniques and disinfection methods.  

Avoiding Cross Contamination During Mold Remediation

Thursday, November 12th, 2020
Mold Remediation

Inside a mold-contaminated home, microscopic mold spores are often concentrated in the immediate vicinity of contamination. However, efforts to remove that mold runs the risk of dispersing spores more widely. Known as cross-contamination, the process of removing active mold growth may potentially spread contamination to parts of the house not previously infected by mold.

Professional mold remediation services utilize a variety of tactics and equipment to ensure that cross-contamination doesn’t disseminate mold more extensively inside a home during the procedure. Here are some of the methods commonly employed:

  • Preliminary air sampling. Air sampling for spores provides important information about which areas of the home are contaminated versus those that are not. This allows mold remediation technicians to isolate particular target areas while preventing spread to areas that aren’t contaminated.
  • Sealing the area. If the contaminated area is more than 30 square feet, specific techniques are utilized to isolate the area from the remainder of the house. The work area will be air-sealed with sheets of 6 mil plastic barrier, including an air lock to enter and exit the area. HVAC vents in the affected area will also be sealed.
  • Preventing spore spread. To further ensure that airborne spores do not migrate into uncontaminated areas, a negative air machine will be installed to reduce air pressure in the infected area. This device, which includes high-efficiency HEPA filtration, continuously reduces air pressure in the infected area to retain airborne spores.
  • Restricting access. Only individuals who are trained and have proper mold remediation credentials, as well as equipped with proper personal protection equipment (PPE), should be allowed in the contaminated area while mold remediation procedures are underway.  
  • Final procedures. After active mold growth and any infected materials have been removed, and before the containment area is unsealed, the entire area is vacuumed with HEPA-filtered equipment. All surfaces inside the area will be wiped down with an antimicrobial cleaner. HVAC vents are unsealed.
  • Post-remediation air sampling. To verify that mold has been removed from the affected area and all other parts of the house remain uncontaminated, air samples will be taken throughout the home. 

Flood Prevention: Protecting Your Garage

Tuesday, November 10th, 2020
flood prevention

If flooding ever threatens your property, chances are your garage will be the first to take on water. Today, many expensive possessions that could be damaged by exposure to water are routinely present or stored inside the garage. However, in many cases, the garage is the structure most vulnerable to outdoor flooding due to heavy rain, snowmelt, or widespread flooding from other sources.

In order to admit vehicles as well as persons on foot, a garage includes an extra-wide door as well as a paved surface leading directly from the driveway into the garage at ground level. All these factors combine to provide possible entry points for water that may flood the garage in particular situations. Here are some suggestions to prevent that from happening:

  • Check weather-stripping. A garage door typically has a large rubber seal at the bottom that contacts the driveway and keeps out water during heavy rain. However, as the garage opens and closes repeatedly over time, the seal material wears and becomes stiff. Eventually, it will no longer prevent water from entering and, perhaps, flooding the garage. It’s normal to have to replace this seal every few years to keep the garage floor dry.
  • Seal foundation cracks. Any cracks in the garage foundation extending outdoors can provide an entry point for water to continuously seep into the garage and contribute to water damage. Small cracks may be sealed with a waterproof paint or concrete patching material. Large cracks require a contractor.
  • Ensure adequate drainage. Installing French drains in the ground along both sides of the driveway helps prevent the driveway from becoming a flooded pathway that channels water into the garage. Basically, a gravel-filled trench containing a perforated pipe, a French drain can function to capture and redirect accumulating water before it enters the driveway and floods the garage.
  • Keep sandbags on hand. If extremely heavy rain or some other event likely to create flooding is forecast, a tightly packed row of sandbags placed along the ground against the front of the garage door can help limit water entering the garage.  

Water Damage Classification Levels

Thursday, November 5th, 2020
water damage classification levels

If water damage of most any sort strikes your home, you’ll probably classify it with just one simple word: Bad.

For water damage professionals, however, these events are placed into more specific classifications as defined by the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) in accordance with ANSI, the American National Standards Institute. IICRC water damage classification enables water damage professionals to apply techniques and principles tested and proven to be effective for each classification.

As established in 2006 and updated in 2015, these are the three IICRC water damage classification levels:

Category 1

Originating from a sanitary source, Category 1 is basically water that could initially be safe drinking water before the event occurred.  Examples include a broken indoor water supply line, overflowing sink or bathtub without soap or other contaminants, falling rainwater, melting ice or snow, or a broken toilet tank. Category 1 sanitary water doesn’t stay sanitary long. As spreading water contacts surfaces and contaminants, or pooling water is allowed to remain in place for an extended time, eventually, Category 1 water may become toxic and advance to Category 2. If accompanied by active mold growth, this factor will also downgrade the water to Category 2.

Category 2

Category 2 water is contaminated and can potentially cause mild illness or discomfort if contacted or consumed. Common examples include overflowing dishwashers or washing machines, broken aquariums or punctured water beds, toilet overflows with urine but no feces, and seepage of groundwater into the house.  Factors that may make Category 2 more toxic are the age of the house, a history of previous water damage that was not properly remediated, certain construction methods and building materials, and elapsed time since the event occurred.

Category 3

Known as black water, this category refers to water designated as grossly contaminated due to pathogenic or toxigenic contents. It presents an acute health threat and requires specialized crews equipped and experienced to handle toxic substances. Category 3 water damage includes sewage backups, toilet overflows, including feces, and virtually all forms of outdoor flooding that may enter the house.

Does Insurance Cover Mold Damage?

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2020
mold damage


Homeowners insurance coverage for mold contamination inside a home is a case of “maybe so, maybe not.” Certain circumstances surrounding the specific case will make the difference, and details of coverage will vary from company to company, as well as state to state. As a generalization, the most common scenarios of mold contamination occurring due to home water damage are likely to be covered by typical homeowners insurance. To dig deeper into the fine print, here are some of the details that may make a difference:

What Caused the Damage That Caused the Mold?

As a rule, if the mold contamination was the direct result of a “sudden, accidental” event which is typically covered by your homeowners insurance, then the cost of professional mold remediation will be covered by the insurance, too.

  • Say a washing machine hose suddenly ruptures and water inundates part of the home. Damage caused by that sudden, accidental event is probably covered by insurance. As mold is likely to be triggered by contact with this water, professional treatment to prevent and/or remediate subsequent mold contamination is also likely covered.
  • However, if a mold outbreak is due to outdoor flooding that inundated the house, you probably aren’t covered. Basically, all forms of flooding from outdoor sources are not excluded from homeowners insurance. Flood insurance for homeowners is instead provided by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which does not include mold coverage. 

How Did You Handle It?

Your role in water damage inside the house can also influence whether that damage and resultant mold are covered or not.

  • If water damage to a house occurred due to a situation that developed due to negligence, then homeowners insurance may decline to pay for damages as well as any mold contamination that results.
  • Let’s say a homeowner lets a roof leak continue for an extended period instead of having it fixed in a timely manner, or a plumbing pipe that should’ve been professionally repaired wasn’t and subsequently ruptured, then both the water damage resulting from this neglect, as well as accompanying mold contamination, would be ineligible for coverage.

What Is Water Extraction?

Tuesday, October 27th, 2020
water extraction

Water extraction is just one of the vital stages of a successful water damage recovery project. Once the first, most urgent concern—stopping the source of water—is accomplished, the next priority becomes water removal. This means removing deep standing water that may be present anywhere in the house (especially the basement), utilizing submersible pumps or other suction devices to pull out large amounts of water in a short period of time. After the major volume of floodwater is out of the house, water extraction comes next.

Getting All the Water Out

The water extraction process refers to the removal of residual water wherever it may have migrated inside the structure. This leftover water that has soaked into walls, floors, and ceilings, as well as materials like carpet and padding, can be a source of continuing damage to affected building materials, as well as a trigger for toxic mold growth. Removing all residual water is critical. It’s a process that requires professional equipment and procedures designed specifically for the purpose: 

  • Powerful truck-mounted vacuum water extraction equipment pulls residual water out of surfaces and absorbent materials. Portable extraction units are also utilized to reach smaller areas of the house.
  • Professional water extraction also includes technology such as hygrometers, moisture meters, and other accessories to locate and measure the amount of saturation.
  • Infrared imaging can be utilized to locate hidden water remaining inside areas such as wall voids or within the ceiling structure.   
  • Fast removal of residual water speeds the drying time of the interior which, in turn, inhibits mold contamination often associated with water damage.

After the Water’s Gone

Following comprehensive water extraction, the drying phase begins to eliminate trace moisture and high indoor humidity. This phase typically utilizes industrial-grade dehumidifiers and high-volume air movers to speed evaporation of remaining moisture. If mold growth is possible, affected areas will receive disinfectant treatment as well as air sampling to detect the presence of airborne spores in the house.