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Is Bathroom Flooding a Health Risk

Tuesday, November 12th, 2019
Bathroom Flooding

Because there’s more than one potential source of bathroom flooding, the potential for health risks also varies. A flooded bathroom is one of the more common water damage incidents that professionals encounter on a daily basis. However, not all bathroom water damage is equal when it comes to possible toxic threat.

The Institute Of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) has developed standards to evaluate the health risks present in water damage incidents. Water damage incidents occurring in homes, including bathroom flooding, may potentially include one or more of these three categories of water damage standards:

  • Category 1 is initially clean and originates from a sanitary source. In a bathroom, this might be a ruptured or loose water supply line releasing clean water under the sink or elsewhere. If mopped up or otherwise removed in less than 48 hours, category 1 flooding usually poses no health risk.
  • Category 2 means contaminated water that could cause illness if ingested. In a bathroom scenario, this could include soapy water from a bathtub, a toilet overflow containing only water and urine, or even category 1 water which wasn’t promptly cleaned up in the proper time frame and has now become contaminated.
  • Category 3 is known as “black water”. As the name implies, it is highly toxic and requires professional clean-up and decontamination procedures afterwards. This category includes raw sewage from any source, including a bathroom toilet overflow that contains feces. Toilet overflows containing category 3 water may result from a common clog or they may be the consequence of a sewage backup pushing raw sewage back into a house from the main municipal sewer pipe.

If category 3 bathroom flooding occurs, occupants of the home should avoid entering the bathroom until qualified water damage services have decontaminated the environment. Potential illness could result from any contact with category 3 water, or even from breathing air in a confined space where flooding has occurred.

How to Dry Out Cabinets After Water Damage Occurs

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2019

Cabinets in the kitchen and bathroom are often right in the crosshairs to sustain water damage. Because of the proximity to water sources—plumbing lines leading to a sink, dishwasher floods, overflow from a sink, faucet leaks—cabinets frequently end up affected by water.  Drying cabinets after a water damage incident is a specialized process and not all cabinets can be salvaged in a cost-effective way.

  • Particle board is a common inexpensive cabinet material. Consisting of particles of wood compressed together with glue and resin, particle board is particularly vulnerable to saturation. Water dissolves the glue and may make the material swell and crumble. If water damage is significant, these cabinets may not be salvageable.
  • Plywood and hardwood cabinets withstand water exposure more evenly and for a longer period of time. If dried promptly using proper techniques, these cabinets may be restored without permanent damage.  

Here are some typical steps a water damage professional will utilize to effectively dry out cabinets:

  • Remove all items from the cabinet.
  • Remove excess water pooling inside cabinets. Soak up water with towels and wipe dry the cabinet interior.  
  • Take off cabinet doors. The weight of cabinet doors pulling on saturated wood can cause yet more damage to the unit. Also, removing doors allows maximum airflow into the cabinet interior for faster drying.
  • Utilize drying equipment. Professional air movers that are made to rapidly dry floors, cabinets and other fixtures direct high-volume airflow into the cabinets and speed drying.
  • Reduce humidity. Excess humidity in the indoor environment—common after water damage incidents—hampers drying.  Dehumidifiers should be placed in the affected zone and run continuously.
  • Dry the hidden spaces.  The enclosed area underneath cabinets usually conceals water after a flood. This area is hard to reach but must be accessed to dry affected flooring under the unit as well as the underside of the cabinet.  Water damage professionals typically remove the cabinet kick plate, then utilize air movers and/or warm air injectors to effectively dry the area.  
  • Prevent mold contamination. After cabinets have been fully dried, all surfaces should be treated with biocides formulated to prevent mold growth.

How To Spot Hidden Shower Leaks

Tuesday, July 25th, 2017

leaky showerProfessional home inspectors know that shower leaks can be tricky to trace back to the source. Leaky showers often cause gradual, unseen water damage that progresses for some time before it becomes conspicuous. By then, structural damage may have occurred. Mold growth may be triggered in hidden areas and chronically wet wood attracts termites, as well. Be alert to these signs of shower leaks and take action ASAP to correct the problem and minimize water damage.

  • Water pooling on bathroom floor during a shower. This is often the easiest fix. If it’s a shower stall with a sliding or hinged door, a defective door seal may be allowing splashes to escape the stall. The seal is usually a replaceable item without installing a new door.
  • Dampness affecting wall adjacent to the shower stall, above floor level. Leaks in plumbing supply lines to the shower, the valve assembly or the shower arm supporting the shower head usually occur inside the wall. Wetness gradually spreads, saturating the wall and causing tile to fall off or paint to peel. This is frequently noticeable at a level higher than the floor, distinguishing it from water leakage through the bottom of the stall.
  • Stains on ceiling of room beneath bathroom. Usually, this indicates leakage through the floor of the stall. Shower stalls incorporate a drip pan or membrane underneath the unit to catch leakage through tile grout, the shower drain gasket or cracks in a fiberglass stall. Old-style drip pans may deteriorate with age and allow leakage to soak through the subfloor, rotting and deteriorating the plywood, then penetrate the ceiling below. If the shower is on the ground floor, water damage may be visible from the crawl space directly under the stall. Replacement of a defective shower pan usually entails substantial work to remove the stall. However, unlike original equipment pans installed in older homes, new flexible PVC or chlorinated polyethylene membranes have virtually unlimited service life and help prevent shower water damage for the long term.

Ask the experts at Rytech, Inc. about professional service to remediate water damage due to shower leaks.

3 Common Causes of Bathroom Flooding And How To Prevent Them

Thursday, June 8th, 2017

flooded bathroom
Because a bathroom typically contains more fixtures utilizing running water than any other room in the house, bathroom flooding is an all-too-common occurrence. Bathroom flooding can be particularly problematic because bathrooms are often located on an upper level. Water may migrate vertically, seeping through the subfloor and the ceiling below, causing expensive structural issues. Average damage due to bathroom flooding is over $10,000, making it one of the more costly home water damage events. Here are three common causes:

Overflowing Toilet

An overflowing toilet bowl usually results from a clog, often caused by attempting to flush paper products (or other objects) that are not meant for the toilet and do not disintegrate in water. To minimize damage, take these steps:

  • Know the location of the toilet water shutoff valve. Check it occasionally to make sure it turns freely.
  • If the bowl fills unusually high after one flush, don’t flush it again! This can cause an overflow. Consider it clogged and either plunge the toilet with a toilet plunger or call a plumber.
  • Often, overflows begin after the person has left the bathroom. After each use, linger a moment to make sure the toilet flushes fully and refills properly.

Stall Leakage

A shower stall incorporates a built-in pan concealed underneath it to catch leaks and divert water down the drain. Over time the pan may degrade and no longer hold water. If a leak develops in the stall or surrounding wall, water may escape and seep through the subfloor and the ceiling below, as well as flow out horizontally. If you notice water pooling on the bathroom floor after showering, or water stains on a ceiling, call a plumber.

Ruptured Supply Lines

Water supply lines in under-sink cabinets that feed bathroom faucets aren’t conspicuous. However, they can cause major damage. Drips or “minor” leakage is not normal. It’s a red flag that a total rupture and bathroom flooding could happen at any time. Close the water shutoff valve adjacent to the pipe and call a plumber.


Repair or Replace: Troubleshooting Tips for Toilets

Thursday, October 13th, 2016

Needless to say, toilets are critical fixtures in your household plumbing system. Many people are surprised to know that the toilet is the largest residential water consumer. According to the EPA, toilets alone account for over 25% of total water consumption in an average household. Also, while plumbing fixtures are frequently updated elsewhere in the kitchen and bathrooms, the toilet is often one of the oldest fixtures in the home.

replace toiletTaking all that into account, it’s no surprise that, sooner or later, you’ll be faced with a decision about whether to repair or replace a troublesome toilet. Here are some guidelines for making the right call.

Cracked or Not?

If the porcelain structure of the toilet has cracked — the tank or the bowl — start shopping for a new toilet. Porcelain repair kits have uncertain results at best and are often only a short-term fix. A repaired tank may suddenly rupture totally, flooding the room and causing severe water damage.

Worn Replaceables

If a toilet runs off and on or constantly, it’s typically a defective flapper valve in the bottom of the tank or the fill valve that meters water from the water supply line. Similarly, a toilet with a weak flush also usually needs one or both of these parts replaced. These components are subject to normal wear and tear and occasional replacement is to be expected. Parts are not expensive and it’s a fairly straightforward DIY job if you’re handy, or an easy fix for any plumber.

How Old Is It?

Toilets have become far more water-efficient in recent years. If yours dates prior to the early 1990s, it could be consuming as much as 7 gallons per flush (GPF). Hanging on to these outmoded fixtures raises your water bills and wastes an increasingly scarce resource. Upgrading now to a HET (High-Efficiency Toilet) that consumes only 1.28 GPF starts saving money from day one. Even if the old toilet is still fully functional, replacement sooner rather than later is the preferred option.

Rytech Inc. offers water damage recovery and mold remediation services in over 28 major metropolitan areas.

4 Things to Do Immediately After a Bathroom Flood

Thursday, December 17th, 2015

There are a number of opportunities for bathroom flooding. Second only to the basement, it’s the room in the house most likely to experience water behaving badly. A clogged toilet overflows when flushed, or a water supply line leaks under a bathroom sink, or someone starts filling a bathtub and forgets—any of these can turn water loose in the bathroom.

You can’t undo what’s already happened. However, taking the right steps after bathroom flooding can minimize immediate consequences as well as help reduce the amount of professional water damage restoration required in the aftermath.

  1. Turn off the water supply. If it’s just a single fixture like a toilet overflowing, there’s an individual shut-off valve on the wall behind the fixture to cut off water and stop the flooding. If (as sometimes happens), the individual shut-off valve to a fixture is frozen because it hasn’t been turned off in years, it’s a good idea to know in advance the location of the main water shutoff valve for the whole house and how to operate it to shut the water off there.
  2. Turn off electricity to the bathroom at the circuit breaker panel. In a flooded indoor room, electrocution is always a hazard. If there’s a lot of water loose in the bathroom, you don’t want to enter that soaked environment with outlets and light fixtures still “hot” with electrical power. If you’re uncertain about which circuit breakers control bathroom power, have an electrician clear the room before entering.
  3. Remove standing water. Use mops, old towels and floor squeegees to get standing water up off the floor and into buckets or down a drain. If you have a wet/dry shop vac in the house, you can utilize that, as well. Get any soaked bathroom rugs out of the house, too.
  4. Circulate air continuously. Open windows and/or bring in fans (be careful of using extension cords in wet areas) to keep air moving and dry the area as well as to reduce residual humidity in the air.

For professional water damage restoration after a bathroom flooding event, contact Rytech, Inc.


Bathroom Flooding Situations That Could Lead to Extensive Water Damage

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

bathroom floodingBathrooms are where the water is, so bathroom flooding is an unfortunately frequent occurrence. Nevertheless, when it happens, it’s often a complete surprise and a cause for great alarm. This can lead to hasty measures that may only make the situation worse. (more…)