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Water Damage Prevention

Thursday, June 10th, 2021
water damage prevention

Effective water damage prevention is always preferable to dealing with the potential negative consequences after it happens. In 2021, the average cost of residential water damage incidents ranged from $3,000 up to $5,000. Worse-than-average cases impose even greater expense, not to mention substantial household disruption.

While not all water damage incidents are predictable and preventable, many can be averted before expense and inconvenience strike. Common causes of residential water damage include:

  • Plumbing leaks. even small leaks or seepage from pipes can be warning signs of an impending pipe rupture. An indoor supply pipe with only a 1/8-inch crack can flood the house with hundreds of gallons of water in only a few hours.
  • Appliance issues. Rubber water supply hoses connected to washing machines may rupture suddenly due to age. Chronic leakage from dishwashers into the enclosed space beneath the unit—a dark zone not frequently inspected—can severely rot the floor structure and trigger mold growth.
  • Roof damage. Rainfall on a leaky roof can cause long-term attic water damage, including ruined insulation, rotting wood structure, and leakage through ceilings. Wet attics also support toxic mold contamination that may spread.  
  • Outdoor flooding. If ground adjacent to the house slopes toward the foundation, water damage in the basement or crawl space may occur during heavy rain. Basement water damage may also result from infiltration of groundwater beneath the basement floor.

Effective prevention of common water damage events includes:

  • Prompt attention to resolve the plumbing leaks and seepage.
  • Ensure that water-connected appliances have secure supply and drain lines and are regularly maintained.
  • Get annual roof inspections by a professional.
  • Grade landscape to divert pooling water away from the house.
  • Install a basement sump pump to remove rising groundwater.

Advanced Restoration Methods

Water damage restoration specialists are trained, certified professionals with the expertise and resources to restore all types of damage caused by water. 

  • High-volume extractors remove a large volume of water in a very short time.
  • Powerful dehumidifiers and air movers reduce damaging indoor humidity and eliminate residual moisture rapidly.
  • Utilizing moisture detection technology, water that has seeped deep into the structure can be located and removed. 
  • Water-damaged building materials like drywall, flooring, and certain wooden structural components may require removal and replacement if not dried quickly.
  • Because mold growth frequently accompanies water damage, air sampling is used to track and identify contamination, followed by removal of all active mold growth and sterilization of affected surfaces.

How Serious Is Your Water Damage?

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2021
water damage

All water damage is not created equal. Among the first tasks confronting water damage recovery professionals is an assessment of the severity of the incident in order to develop a recovery plan that addresses specific circumstances. To know what to expect in the recovery process, here are some of the factors in evaluating water damage to a typical home.

  • Extent of damage. Is the water limited to a single room? If water is pooled on a hard floor and has not yet spread under walls, the recovery process is generally uncomplicated. Conversely, if the water has spread and penetrated deeper into the structure, or if upstairs water damage is also affecting rooms downstairs, remediation will be more extensive.
  • Type of water. Classification of water involved is a major determinant of recovery techniques required. Water damage from a clean source like a broken supply line that occurred less than 48 hours ago—known as Category 1 water—is usually uncontaminated and remediation is straightforward. Category 2 water originating from an overflowing appliance or a roof leak, for example, is considered slightly contaminated. Raw sewage—Category 3 damage—is dangerously toxic and requires specialized techniques for removal followed by intensive decontamination procedures.  
  • Structural issues. Wet drywall is structurally unsound and may collapse. In most cases, portions or all of the saturated drywall panels in walls and ceilings require replacement. Examples of other structural issues include a flooded basement that may be damaged by the weight and volume of water and storm damage to roofing materials.
  • Electrical factors.  If water has entered electrical outlets, contacted the main circuit breaker panel or major electrical appliances, safety is the initial concern. After electricity to affected areas or the entire home has been shut off, recovery can proceed. Because many electrical components such as wiring inevitably corrode after contact with water, inspection is required and potential replacement may be necessary.
  • Mold contamination. If 48 hours have elapsed since water damage affected the house, mold growth is presumptive. Professional mold decontamination techniques must accompany the recovery process.

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.

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.

How to Prevent Water Damage When Defrosting a Freezer

Tuesday, September 1st, 2020
Defrosting a Freezer

To prevent water damage while defrosting a freezer should be a simple procedure if everything goes right: Unplug the unit, leave the door open to allow the ice to melt, and monitor water as it gradually flows through the drain line into the drip pan at the bottom of the unit.

When everything doesn’t go right and attempts to prevent water damage while defrosting a freezer aren’t successful, these may be common causes:

Clogged or frozen drain line.  If this occurs, water may pool in the bottom of the freezer unit as the ice melts instead of flowing freely through the drain line and into the drip pan. As water accumulation becomes deeper, it will leak out of the freezer onto the floor and/or behind the unit. A blocked drain line may be due to debris such as food particles or because ice has formed inside the line.

Water overflowing from the drip pan. The freezer drip pan beneath the unit is wide and can hold substantial water to prevent water damage during defrosting. If the drip pan overflows during or immediately after defrosting the freezer, however, it could be due to:

  • Excess ice inside the freezer compartment. Thick ice formation on freezer walls may increase the volume of water enough to overflow the drip pan before the evaporation process can take place. A common cause of excess ice is the infiltration of humid outside air into the freezer compartment due to a worn, leaky door gasket.
  • Evaporation in the drip pan is too slow to prevent water damage. After the unit is restarted, water collected in the drip pan is evaporated by heat released from condenser coils located in the bottom of the freezer just above the drip pan. However, dirty, dusty condenser coils can impede the evaporation process, allowing the drip pan to fill and soon overflow, resulting in water damage around the freezer as well as triggering toxic mold growth.

To diagnose and prevent water damage due to freezer defrosting issues, professional service by a qualified appliance technician is recommended.

Preparing Your Home for Fall – These Tips Will Prevent Possible Water Damage

Tuesday, September 10th, 2019
Water damage

While the potential for home water damage is not limited to any particular season, sources of possible damage do shift somewhat as the calendar advances. Fall is a transitional period, a good time to check for damage that might have occurred during severe summer storms as well as prepare for the coming winter season. Getting these things done now is preferable to waiting until the first cold snap strikes, when conditions may be far less favorable. Here are some items to check off while the weather cooperates:

  • Clean the gutters. Gutters clogged by falling autumn leaves will overflow during winter rains or melting snow on the roof. Overflowing gutters may allow water to penetrate exterior siding and leak into walls, triggering internal water damage and mold.  
  • Insulate exposed plumbing. Household water supply lines routed through unconditioned zones like the crawl space or attic should be insulated to prevent freezing and possible rupture during the coming winter. Also, seal any openings to the exterior of the house that may allow frigid outdoor air to contact plumbing.
  • Seasonal roof inspection. Summer sun and storms are particularly hard on roofing. Any roof defects should be identified and resolved now, while good weather lasts. If you don’t feel safe accessing the roof yourself, now’s a good idea to schedule a roof inspection by a qualified roofing contractor to check for any defects that may permit leakage into the attic. 
  • Cut back trees. Large overhanging limbs that may not withstand the weight of winter ice need to be trimmed back to prevent damage to the house. It’s a good idea to have at least a three-foot safety margin around the house where no breaking limbs can strike the roof or walls, allowing water to penetrate. Also, if any trees appear to be diseased or dead, now’s a good time to have them removed.
  • Review hurricane preparations. If you reside in an Atlantic or Gulf state that is at risk for hurricanes or tropical storms, fall is the season to get prepared. Evaluate your home for hurricane readiness and follow proven procedures to minimize damage. 

4 Tips For Spring Storm Preparation

Tuesday, March 12th, 2019

Will damaging spring storms strike this year? Or will fickle weather patterns or blind random chance give you a break this time? The best antidote for uncertainty is being prepared for whatever happens, whenever it may happen. Many types of storm damage that commonly occur can be minimized by taking advance preventive measures before the actual need arises. You can’t control the forces of the atmosphere, but here are four steps you can take to make storm damage less likely this spring.

1. Maintain the gutters. Water runoff from a residential roof of average size can amount to nearly 1,000 gallons during a one-inch rainstorm. Make sure gutters aren’t clogged and are securely mounted to the house to withstand the heavy weight of runoff during intense rain. Also, downspouts should ideally extend a minimum of three feet away from the house to divert water far enough away and prevent damage.

2. Get a roof inspection. If you haven’t had a professional roof inspection in a few years, schedule one now before the potential for spring storms strikes. The effects of UV exposure, freeze/thaw cycles, wind and aging materials combine to cause deterioration that promotes leakage, particularly in heavy rain. Roof leaks into the attic trigger mold growth, destroy insulation and eventually infiltrate the living spaces below through the ceiling.

3. Test the sump pump. Because sump pumps typically spend most of the time on standby, it’s important to ensure that the system will be fully functional if/when it’s needed. Make sure the sump basin is clear of any debris. Pour 5 gallons of water into the basin and verify that the pump automatically actuates, empties the basin, then shuts off. Go outside and check the termination of the discharge pipe to make sure it’s not clogged and releases water far enough away from the house.

4. Check out the trees. High winds associated with spring storms may break overhanging limbs, causing roof damage. Weak or dead trees may be toppled, striking the house with expensive consequences. Cut back limbs that extend over the roof and remove marginal trees.

3 Ways to Prevent Water Damage to Your Home While Traveling

Wednesday, December 26th, 2018

leaving on vacationIt’s a homeowner’s nightmare scenario: Returning from a vacation or even just a weekend getaway to find your house inundated by catastrophic water damage. A quarter-inch crack in a water supply line releases more than 250 gallons in only a few hours. Imagine the potential damage if you’re away from home and leakage continues for days. As time elapses, water soaks deep into the structure, permanently deteriorating building materials. Possessions are ruined, toxic mold contamination is triggered.

Clearly, preventing water damage while you’re away is preferable to all other options. Here are three ways to ensure that your homecoming doesn’t include a distressing surprise.

Maintain The Plumbing

Don’t ignore early warning signs of failing pipes such as dripping beneath sinks and other fixtures, or in the basement or crawl space. Water heater ruptures are also another common source of water damage due to internal corrosion. Leakage from the tank is often a red flag of impending rupture. These issues should be resolved by a plumber.

Rubber hoses connecting the washing machine to hot and cold faucets behind the unit are prone to sudden failure and frequently implicated in severe home water damage. Replace rubber hoses with braided stainless steel lines that are more resilient and last longer.

Prevent Freezing

Indoor water supply lines can freeze and rupture during winter, particularly in a frigid, unoccupied house. If you’re going away, set the furnace thermostat to 60 degrees day and night while you’re gone. Open cabinets and closets to allow warm air to circulate into wall spaces where pipes are routed. If you have exposed supply lines in the crawl space or attic, consider installing pipe insulation to prevent freezing.

Turn Off The Water

For the most definitive water damage prevention, turning off all water to the house is a good idea. Locate the main water shutoff valve. If you don’t know, a plumber can show you where it is and also make sure you have the correct tool to operate it. Test the valve now, to verify it turns easily. If it’s difficult to turn, don’t force it—consult a plumber.

Prevent Exterior Water Damage With These Simple Tips

Tuesday, May 29th, 2018

exterior water damageConcerns about potential water damage shouldn’t be limited to your home’s interior. Materials that make up the exterior roof, walls and foundation of the house—wood, masonry, concrete—can be vulnerable to water damage under certain conditions. Also, external water damage often doesn’t stay outdoors: Water seepage originating outside tends to infiltrate indoor spaces, as well. Here are ways of detecting and dealing with exterior water damage before it becomes an interior issue.

  • Have your roof inspected. It’s a job for a professional who knows what to look for and can do so safely. They will check for damaged and missing shingles and defective flashing around vent pipes, chimney and skylights. Up in your attic they’ll inspect the sub-roof for telltale evidence of leakage, too.
  • Check exterior walls for loose siding boards, cracked bricks or masonry and signs that exterior wood sheathing is deformed or damaged due to water.
  • Inspect any openings in exterior walls that admit wires, plumbing pipes or heating and A/C lines. Seal around them with foam or caulk.
  • Look for signs of termite activity in or around exterior walls. Be aware that termites eat drywall as well as wood.
  • Trim back shrubs and/or tree limbs so they don’t touch sides of the house or the roof. Vegetation contacting exterior walls or roof surfaces traps chronic moisture, potentially accelerating deterioration of building materials.
  • Ventilate the attic to prevent ice dams on the roof. Heat rising from living spaces accumulates in the attic, causing uneven snow melt on the roof. Ice dams form, obstructing roof runoff and triggering damaging leaks. Adequate ventilation keeps attic temperatures uniformly cold.
  • Make sure that ground around the perimeter of exterior walls is slightly graded to divert water away from the house and prevent seepage into the foundation or basement.
  • Water cascading out of clogged, overflowing gutters can penetrate siding and cause severe damage inside exterior walls. Keep gutters clear and free flowing. Also, extend gutter downspouts to discharge water at least three feet away from the house.

3 Tips To Minimize Water Damage In Your Home

Tuesday, November 21st, 2017

water shutoffEliminating every possible cause isn’t always possible, but preventive steps to at least minimize water damage can substantially limit its consequences. Water is eight times more likely to damage your home than a fire and, in many cases, may be more extensive and costly. However, a few general principles can minimize water damage, cut your losses and facilitate recovery.

  • Know where the main shutoff valve is. Every adult occupant should know the location of the home’s main shutoff valve and be able turn it off in the event of a plumbing rupture or overflow. It’s also a good idea to turn off the main valve if you’re leaving home for a few days. In most houses, it’s outside where the main water line enters an exterior wall. Shutoff valves may be very difficult or even impossible to turn. Test it now—before an emergency occurs. If the valve is stubborn or won’t rotate, call a plumber for repair.
  • Check hoses and lines to appliances. These are known weak links in household plumbing. Rubber supply hoses connected to the home’s washing machine are at risk of rupture after only a few years. These should be replaced by braided stainless steel lines that have long expected service life. If the plastic water line supplying your refrigerator ice maker doesn’t inspire confidence, upgrade to a stainless steel replacement with copper shutoff valve. Once or twice a year, remove the kick plate at the front of the dishwasher and look underneath with a flashlight for signs of a leaky supply line.
  • Don’t ignore plumbing issues. Chronic minor leaks you’re putting up with may unexpectedly turn into major incidents that inflict maximum water damage. A dripping pinhole that abruptly expands into a 1/8-inch leak in a water supply line can release hundreds of gallons of water per day into your house. Even the smallest pipe leaks or inconspicuous seepage around joints should be a red flag. Minimize the possibility of extreme water damage by having all leaks resolved by a qualified plumber.