Return to the Blog Home Page

10 Things to Know About Spring Flooding

Thursday, March 26th, 2020

A flooded home can happen at any time of year from a variety of sources. However, the fact is, springtime weather is generally considered the season of highest risk for flooding and resultant home damage. Only a few inches of water inside a flooded house may inflict many thousands of dollars of water damage. Here are 10 things to know about flooding in this volatile season:

  1. As warming spring temperatures melt snow, the ground beneath is often still frozen hard. Therefore, water from snowmelt doesn’t soak into the soil, it runs off into streams, rivers, and lakes. These bodies of water swell rapidly and overflow, causing local flooding.
  2. Rainstorms in spring are often intense and may drop several inches of rain in a short period. Heavy rain quickly oversaturates the ground, causing extreme run-off that swamps local storm drains and triggers damaging flash floods in vulnerable areas.
  3. In most cases, your homeowner’s insurance won’t cover water damage due to outdoor flooding. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) managed by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) is the only source for insurance against losses due to a flooded home.
  4. Though the NFIP is federally-funded, flood policies are sold by participating private insurance providers approved by the government.
  5. FEMA’s website also provides Flood Risk maps so you can determine the risk level for flooding at your specific address. Your risk will also be a factor in computing the cost of flood insurance.
  6. Never return to a flooded area until local officials have declared that it is safe.
  7. Stay aware of dangers inside a flooded home. Make sure electricity to the house is turned off. Floodwater may be toxic, so wear protective clothing, goggles, and a breathing mask if you must contact any standing water inside the house.
  8. Notify your NFIP insurance provider.
  9. Documenting the condition of your home and belongings with photographs helps ensure proper insurance compensation.
  10. Contact professional water damage recovery services, ASAP. Even though the flooding event may have passed, for every hour water remains inside your house, damage mounts exponentially and secondary effects like mold contamination are triggered.

5 Home Flood Prevention Tips

Tuesday, March 17th, 2020
home flood prevention

Home flood prevention is a common concern among homeowners and insurers alike. Statistics show losses due to residential fires have notably declined in recent years. Meanwhile, damage from indoor flooding has surged. This increase could be for many reasons: aging plumbing, an increasing number of appliances connected to water lines, even a growing trend toward installing washing machines on upper floors of homes.

That’s why effective home flood prevention is now a front-and-center issue. Here are 5 ways not to become the next statistic:

1.There’s no such thing as a ‘minor’ leak

Adopt a zero-tolerance policy toward any plumbing leaks, drips or other evidence of seepage from pipes, connections, or fixtures, no matter how small. Frequently these are harbingers of major indoor flooding events. Have any plumbing issues inspected immediately by a qualified plumber.

2. Basements are ground zero for indoor flooding

Install a basement sump pump. Water supply lines are frequently routed there. Saturated soil during heavy rains can infiltrate and flood the basement. A sump pump automatically activates to pump water out of the basement into the backyard before floodwater accumulates.

3. Know how to shut off water to the house

Be sure you know where the main water shutoff valve is and how it operates (some are rotary valves, some are lever-operated). Check the valve for proper operation twice a year and call a plumber if it’s difficult to turn. Also, shut off the valve if you’re going away.

4. Install a sewer backflow valve

A sewage backup into a home is water damage of the worst kind. Toxic contamination makes the water damage recovery process very complex. A sewer backflow valve allows the sewage flow in one direction only—away from the house.

5. Replace aging washing machine supply hoses

Do it now. Rubber hoses become brittle and may rupture. This can cause catastrophic water damage without warning. Replace them with braided stainless steel lines that provide greater reliability and longer life.

Home Flood Cleanup: Caring for Your Belongings

Thursday, February 6th, 2020
home flood cleanup

One of the priorities of home flood cleanup is rescuing valuables and other family belongings from the ravages of exposure to water. Flooding from any source—exterior or interior—can actually pose a greater threat to possessions than fire damage in many cases. It’s vital to take steps as soon as it’s safely possible to initiate recovery of items contacted by water.

Caveat: If flooding resulted from a sewage backup, any belongings contacted by it must be considered toxic and contaminated. Qualified water damage professionals on the scene for home flood cleanup can determine whether items are safe to work with.

  • Conduct triage. Determine which items are most valuable to you as well as those most likely to be salvageable. Sentimental value often takes precedence over dollar value when it comes to photographs, family heirlooms, etc. Where affected possessions have high value only in economic terms—such as consumer electronics—decide whether the cost of repairing those items is worth it.  
  • Move identified items away from wet areas. Open windows and circulate air to exhaust damaging high humidity. Run the HVAC fan if the system has been approved to operate. If the entire home was flooded, relocate items to a sheltered, secure location elsewhere.
  • Clean and dry. Gently rinse affected photos with clean water. Dry by placing on a plastic screen to allow air circulation on both sides, or by hanging from a line with clothespins at the corners. Remove water-soaked photos from photo albums or frames, then rinse and air-dry.  To preserve valuable books affected by water, insert absorbent paper towels between wet pages.  
  • Freeze-dry if necessary. Items like books, photographs, documents or textiles that can’t be cleaned and dried within 48 hours should be placed in plastic bags, then frozen in a freezer for later treatment. This stops mold from forming and ruining the items.
  • Don’t power up electronics. Some electronic devices like computers and video cameras may be successfully restored after water exposure. However, powering up a wet unit may make that impossible. Data can also be retrieved from wet hard drives. Numerous companies offer this specialized professional service.

3 Tips to Prevent Water Damage from Your Washing Machine

Thursday, November 29th, 2018

leaking water machineJust how much water damage can a common residential washing machine inflict? As it turns out, quite a lot. According to the Insurance Institute For Business & Home Safety (IBHS), washing machines consistently rank among the most expensive causes of household water damage. Cost of these unexpected events average over $5,000 after the deductible amount is paid. In addition to structural damage, mold contamination is a frequent secondary consequence of washing machine incidents.

What can you do to avoid the expense and losses? The IBHS recommends three crucial preventive measures to reduce the potential for costly and inconvenient washing machine water damage:

Replace Water Supply Hoses

Many washers are installed with rubber supply hoses connected to hot and cold faucets on the wall behind the unit. Over time, these hoses deteriorate and eventually rupture. A ruptured hose may release hundreds or even thousands of gallons of water before the situation is discovered. Inspect hoses monthly and replace immediately if any signs of deterioration—cracking or blistering hose or seepage at the connection—is noted. Replace hoses every five years even if no deterioration is evident. For maximum safety, replace rubber hoses with braided stainless steel lines that provide greater expected service life.

Turn Off The Water Supply

For greater security against hose ruptures—as well as leakage from defective valves and other components inside the washer—develop the habit of turning off the hot and cold water supply valves after each use of the machine. To simplify this procedure, you can have the rotary screw-type faucets installed on the wall behind the unit replaced with lever-operated valves that can be quickly closed and opened in one easy motion.

Don’t Wash Clothes While You Are Away Or Asleep

Any washing machine water incident can be costly. However, if it occurs after you’ve started the machine and then left the house—or while you’re fast asleep in another room—that event can be truly catastrophic due to the volume of water released. Schedule clothes washing while you’re home and awake in order to react promptly to any events such as pipe ruptures or overflows.

3 Tips For Cleaning Up After A Flood In Your Home

Thursday, March 15th, 2018

flood cleanupCleaning up after a flood probably isn’t a job you’ll want to tackle all by yourself. Comprehensive recovery usually requires the services of water damage professionals. In the immediate aftermath however, there are a few steps you can take to begin damage control ASAP. Before you start, make sure the house is safe to enter. Be aware of electrical hazards in the wet indoor environment as well as potential collapse of saturated walls and ceilings. Unless the source of water is a ruptured indoor supply line, assume floodwater is contaminated and wear protective clothing to avoid direct contact.

Cleanup tips

To initiate the process of cleaning up after a flood here are three tips:

  1. Remove standing water. Where residual water is pooled on hard surface floors, you may be able to push it out an exterior door, if one is nearby. If you don’t have a floor squeegee, a push broom can be useful to direct water outside. Removing standing water as soon as possible isn’t likely to undo damage already done. However, it may limit further spread of water into other areas of the house.
  2. Reduce humidity. Open windows and, if possible, run fans to get air moving. Run the air conditioner if it’s still functional as well. If you have a dehumidifier or can rent one, put it into use as soon as possible. Extremely high indoor humidity is an inevitable side-effect of flooding and a major cause of secondary damage, even in areas of the home that were not affected by the initial flood.
  3. Move out saturated stuff. Get soaked items like mattresses, cushions and throw rugs out of the house without delay. These highly absorbent items will never dry indoors and, if the floodwater came from any source other than a broken pipe, they are permanently contaminated and will have to be discarded, anyway. Most saturated materials also become sources of mold growth within just 48 hours after exposure to water, so getting them outdoors sooner rather than later is helpful.

5 Of The Most Common Questions Regarding Flooding In The Home

Tuesday, February 20th, 2018

flooding questionsIf your home is flooded, you will invariably have questions about what to do. That’s entirely understandable. Outside of professionals, nobody really wants to become an expert on water damage by getting first-hand experience with it. Here are just five of the typical questions we hear from homeowners:

Why me?

According to insurance industry statistics, you are not alone. 37% of American homeowners have experienced indoor water damage serious enough to cause an insurance claim. It’s predicted that 98% of houses with basements will sustain basement flooding at some point. The Federal Emergency Management Agency reports that there is no locale in the U.S. with zero risk of flooding.

What should be my first priority?

Above all, stay safe. A flooded house poses serious safety risks including electrical hazards, wall or ceiling collapse, and danger from contaminated floodwater.

Should I wait for the insurance adjuster?

Contact your insurer ASAP. However, in a time-critical crisis where prompt contact may not be available, insurers generally expect that you will take whatever measures are necessary to prevent worsening damage to your home, including summoning qualified professional water damage recovery services to intervene immediately.

How long will recovery take?

The answer depends on how extensive water exposure is and how promptly recovery techniques are applied. In the average case, if qualified recovery service is accessed ASAP, it takes two or three days to dry out a home. If water exposure has continued for an extended period before help is summoned, the estimated completion time could run to five days.

What happens after the fact?

Water damage includes the potential for subsequent mold contamination. As the house is being dried, mold remediation procedures are also underway. After the initial recovery process has concluded, to verify that structural dryness meets industry specifications as well as confirm that mold contamination is no longer a potential threat, one or more follow-up visits will include moisture measurements as well as air samples for mold spores.

 

Cleaning Up A Flooded Home – When To Get Help

Thursday, December 7th, 2017

flooded home helpIf you’re faced with cleaning up a flooded home, should you go it alone or call in professional help? The do-it-yourself approach may be the natural first response. After all, it’s your house and possessions, so the urgency to take control with personal action can feel overwhelming.

However, cleaning up a flooded home involves multiple specialties that are seldom part of the typical homeowner’s skill set. Moreover, water damage is a dynamic event that continuous to worsen as hours elapse. Because you can’t afford putting off the decision about what to do indefinitely, here are some guidelines to make the right call ASAP:

  • Did you have to leave the house? This one’s easy: If flooding was severe enough that evacuating all or part of the house was necessary, you need professional water damage recovery to get your home and your life back.
  • Is water limited to just one room? If water is pooled on a hard-surface floor of a single room, you may be able to mop or wet-vacuum the water yourself, then dry residual dampness with fans.
  • How is the water classified? Class 1 is “clean” water, such as inundation from a ruptured household water supply line. Water from an overflowing toilet or other appliance (Class 2) is considered tainted while Class 3 water—outdoor floodwater or indoor sewage backup—is officially a toxic biohazard. Due to health threats, both Class 2 and Class 3 cleanup should only be handled by qualified water damage specialists.
  • Where did the water spread? Water that has seeped into wall spaces between rooms, soaked into drywall or trickled from an upper level to a lower floor through the ceiling always requires professional intervention. Structural damage and toxic mold growth in these inaccessible areas is inevitable.
  • Do you really have time for this? For the homeowner, a flood crisis imposes many diverse and urgent issues beyond cleanup. Turning the complex process of water damage recovery over to skilled, experienced experts helps you keep priorities in order.

The water damage experts at Rytech are standing by 24/7 with professional services for cleaning up a flooded home.

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.

 

Your Home Is Flooding! What Should You Do? A Step-by-Step Response to Water Damage

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

response to water damageThe extent of water damage after flooding often depends on how effectively you handle the event itself. Steps you take in the aftermath of water inundation can affect the amount of professional remediation required, as well as the time span before you get your home and your life back to normal. Here’s a chronology of steps you can take to minimize water damage after flooding and maximize the potential for an uncomplicated recovery:

  • Stop the flow of water to the house at the main shutoff valve. If the home is severely flooded, also turn off electricity at the main electrical panel if you can access the panel safely. Don’t attempt to access the panel in standing water or wet conditions; call an electrician.
  • Call your insurance agent and contact a professional water damage remediation service.
  • Assess the damage and document the status quo of the home with photographs while water is still present and before recovery has begun.
  • Remove family heirlooms and irreplaceable valuables from the damaged area to a dry area of the home or transport to some other location where they can be secured from theft or loss.
  • Reduce standing water where it’s doable. Mop up water or use floor squeegees to push standing water out the door. Leave major water removal to  water damage recovery professionals with pumps and vacuums designed for that purpose.
  • Take steps to prevent mold contamination. Active mold growth starts quickly. Move saturated items like carpets, drapes and upholstered furniture out of the home ASAP and allow them to air dry or dispose if necessary.
  • Disinfect non-absorbent surfaces by wiping them down a 10-percent solution of household bleach and clean water.

Learn more about steps to reduce water damage after flooding from the professionals at Rytech, Inc.

Image via Shutterstock.com

5 Simple Steps to Help You Prevent Frozen or Broken Water Pipes in Your Home

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

frozen pipesSteps to prevent broken water pipes in winter can pay off all year long. The insurance industry reports that an average of a 250,000 American homes are severely damaged each year by flooding from frozen pipes that ruptured. Over the past 10 years, $4 billion in repair claims resulted from these preventable domestic disasters. Pipes don’t freeze the instant the thermometer dips to 32 degrees. However, once temps drop into the 20s—the general threshold for ice formation in water supply pipes—damage may occur at any time. Often ruptures will happen in some unseen location and substantial property damage may occur before the leak is noted. Here are some tips to prevent broken water pipes and the catastrophic home flooding they may cause: (more…)