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What Leads to Higher Water Damage Restoration Prices?

Thursday, October 8th, 2020
water damage restoration

Like the natural flow of water itself, water damage restoration prices vary according to a number of factors. Water damage is not a consistent event from one location to the next, and certain unique conditions may increase or decrease water damage restoration prices. That’s one more good reason why a prompt professional inspection by a qualified water damage recovery provider is critical to an accurate estimate of costs as well as time to completion. While it’s impossible to be specific without a competent, thorough inspection, here are some potential issues that may influence water damage restoration prices in a typical setting. 

  • Origin of water. Clean Type 1 water directly from a sanitary source like a broken water supply line generally means a less complicated and inexpensive remediation if addressed promptly. Toxic Type 3 water, however, from a sewage backup or outdoor flooding, requires special protective measures, advanced equipment, and disinfectant techniques to make the house safe to occupy. Water damage restoration prices rise accordingly.
  • Extent of spread. The more square footage affected by water, the more it’s likely to cost to remediate damage. Where water was limited to the hard floor of one room, the process is simplified; water that has spread throughout several rooms, soaking carpets and seeping under walls, is another matter and imposes greater costs.
  • Presence of remaining water. Where a large volume of moisture still remains in certain areas of the house—a flooded basement, for example—water damage restoration prices will be greater due to the need to utilize pumps and heavy-duty extractors to fully dry the premises. 
  • Type of material damage. Not all building materials are equal following water damage. For example, drywall is absorbent and deteriorates rapidly when wet. However, it’s also relatively inexpensive and can be speedily replaced with new material in most cases. Hardwood flooring is another matter. If exposed to water long enough, hardwood may not be salvageable and expensive removal and replacement is the only option. In addition, the plywood subfloor beneath may be saturated and ruined, imposing labor-intensive procedures to remove and replace.  

What Complicates Water Damage Recovery?

Thursday, September 24th, 2020
Water Damage Recovery

Water damage recovery is often a straightforward procedure. Except when it’s notWater damage recovery can be complicated by a number of ancillary issues that make the process of remediation longer or more complex. Some potential factors involved in water damage don’t become apparent until after basic recovery procedures have already begun. Others may not manifest until after the process is over. Here are some examples of how simple issues become complicated.

Foundation Issues

Outdoor flooding can wreak severe damage to the interior of a house and belongings. A less immediate consequence of floodwater, however, is foundation damage. Water undermining the foundation may eventually manifest as structural changes. Complications such as windows and doors that stick, cracks in walls and floors, and basement walls that are bowed inward are a familiar result that ultimately requires restoration procedures.   

Mold Contamination

Dormant mold spores are activated by contact with moisture. Visual evidence of active mold growth may not occur immediately after water damage, but it is an eventual fait accompli in most scenarios. To avoid subsequent complications caused by the presence of mold, contamination should be assumed any time water damage occurs. Professional mold remediation procedures should be part of any water damage recovery project.  

Electrical Matters

Where water inside a home is deep enough to affect electrical wiring and other components, simply removing the water isn’t the end of the story. Electrical components and water do not mix as corrosion initiated by contact with water continues to degrade these parts even after drying. In most cases, electricians recommend that wiring, outlets, switches, circuit breaker panels, and switches must be replaced during a comprehensive water damage recovery project.

Unsuspected Surprises

A current water damage recovery project may turn up less obvious, previously existing issues. For example, while tracking water damage from an overflowing appliance, moisture originating from a longstanding hidden roof leak may be detected inside a wall, leading to the discovery of deterioration in the attic structure, ruined insulation, etc. 

How Long Does It Take to Dry out Water Damage?

Thursday, September 17th, 2020
dry out water damage

Anyone affected by it wants to know how long it will take to dry out water damage. Quite naturally, they want their home and their daily routine back, ASAP.

We get it. However, exactly when a house is “dry” by established industry standards isn’t determined by the amount of time on the job. The process to dry out water damage involves meeting criteria developed by the IICRC (Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification) and utilized by professionals in the industry. These include:

  • The downward track of indoor humidity, a reliable indicator of water present inside a structure.  
  • Repeated moisture meter readings at specific locations to quantify the amount of water in common building materials and inside structural spaces.
  • Air sampling to detect airborne spores that indicate mold contamination.  

Here are some contributing variables that affect the timespan to dry out water damage:

  • The volume of water. Obviously, a few gallons from a brief appliance overflow that is stopped quickly is a shorter project than a plumbing pipe rupture occurring when no one is home to notice.
  • The category of water. Water from a clean source like a leaky water supply line that is promptly resolved presents fewer complications than contaminated water that requires extensive disinfecting procedures.
  • The extent of spread. Water that has soaked deeply into flooring and saturated the sub-floor, for example, or penetrated ceilings into wall structure and rooms below, will necessarily take longer. Conversely, a limited volume of pooling water that hasn’t spread under baseboards presents a faster, straightforward procedure to dry out water damage.

Ballpark Figures

Currently, the industry average to dry out water damage in a typical residential scenario is 4.9 days to achieve standards of dryness and mold prevention. Following that initial phase, if additional repairs should be required—for example, saturated drywall that can’t be dried must be replaced—the process may extend anywhere from several days to two weeks. In the event of severe water damage, such as widespread outdoor flooding inundating the entire house, the expected timeline for the project would most likely exceed a month.

Water Damage: What Is Restorable?

Thursday, September 10th, 2020
water damage restoration

Water damage affects a structure on many levels, from the very conspicuous damage you can’t miss to more subtle effects you can’t even see. In some cases, building materials are restorable after water damage, depending on the source of water as well as the duration of exposure. However, certain other materials may not be salvageable, or the time and cost required simply make replacement more practical. Here’s how some common home materials and systems may be restorable after water damage—or not, as the case may be.

Drywall

Water-saturated drywall is usually not worth the effort to save it. Wet drywall loses structural integrity. Even after drying, it remains crumbly and continues to deteriorate. Soggy drywall also provides a favorable starting point for mold contamination. Since drywall panels are readily removed and replaced, installing new material is usually advisable.

Flooring

Tile floors, including linoleum and ceramic tiles, are the most water-resistant and usually respond to cleaning and disinfectant following limited water exposure. Wood laminate floors, however, deteriorate rapidly after water damage as glues and adhesives dissolve and the material swells. These floors cannot be restored and usually must be replaced. 

Most hardwood floors resist water at least for a limited time. Dimensional changes may cause cupping in certain planks and splitting and staining may occur, too. However, unless the subfloor beneath is affected, individual hardwood planks can be replaced while the remainder of the floor may be restored by sanding and refinishing.

Insulation

Wet fiberglass attic insulation can be removed, air-dried, and disinfected, then re-installed. Whether this is worth the time and cost versus installing new material with improved insulating properties is a decision the homeowner must make. Blown-in cellulose insulation is usually permanently ruined by water damage and not restorable. Replacement is the only option.

Electrical Wiring

Most professional electricians advise the replacement of electrical wiring and components like outlets and the breaker panel after any contact during water damage. This is for safety reasons as corrosion initiated by moisture continues to deteriorate wiring even after the water has dried, eventually leading to potential fire and shock hazards.

Dealing With Water Damage: Document Drying

Tuesday, September 8th, 2020
water damage document sharing

Among the most permanent consequences of water damage to a home is the potential loss of vital documents. From insurance policies and tax records, to legal papers like wills and property titles, to irreplaceable keepsakes like handwritten letters from loved ones, exposure to water damage poses a very real danger of destruction. Certain common-sense preventative measures should always be taken:

  • Avoiding storing important documents in areas that could be vulnerable to flooding like the basement. Also, always store documents on higher shelves elevated above floor level.
  • Place vital papers inside 12-inch sealable plastic bags and/or inside waterproof sealed plastic containers.
  • Scan critical documents to a permanent media like a DVD or flash drive, or upload to online storage, so a digital copy will always be available.

If worse comes to worst, and paper documents are affected by water damage, here are some guidelines to keep in mind:

  • Act quickly. Water damage plus time is a destructive equation when wet documents are involved. Once documents are accessible, begin protective steps, ASAP.  
  • Move papers to a dry area with low humidity.
  • Carefully separate wet pages. Place each individual sheet of paper on a plain white (unprinted) paper towel.
  • Put each sheet and paper towel in an area with direct sunlight. Place paperweights on the corners of each paper to prevent curling.
  • Keep air circulating in the room with a fan. Don’t blow air directly on drying paper. Direct fan airflow upwards and away from the paper.  
  • Until the documents dry fully, continue to regularly replace the wet paper towel under each document.

Mold growth is destructive to paper and usually triggered about 36 hours after water damage. If you can’t initiate drying techniques in that time frame, put documents in one or more 12-inch sealable plastic bags and place them in the freezer. Freezing documents interrupts the process of mold growth and allows you to delay the drying process until some later time.  

For extremely valuable and/or irreplaceable papers, commercial document restoration and drying services that utilize specialized vacuum-freezing drying technology are available.

Does Water Damage Worsen With Time?

Thursday, August 27th, 2020
water damage

When baseball legend Yogi Berra famously remarked, “It ain’t over until it’s over,” he wasn’t talking about water damage. However, he could have been. Water damage inside a house is an active, ongoing process that continues to worsen until intervention by qualified professionals, utilizing proven remediation methods, interrupts the sequence.

The timeline of damage due to water is well-researched, documented, and usually predictable. Among the established facts is the certainty that the sooner water damage remediation services are on-scene, the more damage can be averted.

Here’s how typical water damage worsens as time passes:

The First Minutes

A sudden major event like a pipe rupture or appliance overflow quickly saturates the floor and carpets and affects furniture and possessions in direct contact with the floor. Porous items soak up and retain water. In minutes, water flows under baseboards and infiltrates wall cavities. 

As Hours Pass

Drywall absorbs water upwards into the material as far as two feet above floor level. Saturated drywall bulges and becomes structurally unsound.  If water damage occurred on an upper level, standing water has now seeped through flooring and leaked through the ceiling into rooms below. Metal surfaces contacted by the water begin to develop surface corrosion. Dyes in carpeting and furniture fabrics dissolve and begin to run and stain. 

After Two Days

A pungent, musty odor is noticeable—the telltale scent of mold activated by contact with water. Airborne spores contaminate indoor air. Paint has blistered off walls; wallpaper is peeling. The wooden sub-floor is now saturated and swelling, dislodging flooring material such as tiles. Some drywall in walls or ceiling may have collapsed. Wet electrical wiring is corroding and metal equipment contacted by water such as appliances and HVAC components may now be permanently ruined.

A Week Later

Severe damage has occurred as water has penetrated deeply into structural materials. Mold contamination is established and widespread. The house may be unsafe to enter and many possessions may not be recoverable. Major restoration will be required to make the home fit to occupy. 

What Does Water Damage Look Like?

Tuesday, August 25th, 2020
water damage

Water damage may not always look like you expect it to. Certainly, a cascade through a downstairs ceiling or a wading pond in the basement is unmistakable evidence of water damage. However, the signs may be more subtle at other times, depending on the source and amount of water, and when the event occurred. Wherever and whenever you may notice the signs, water damage only gets worse as time elapses. Therefore, one of the first priorities is getting advice from a qualified professional water damage recovery service, ASAP.

Here are some of the many signs of water damage to be aware of:

  • Discoloration. Anywhere you see it—on walls, ceilings, or even floors—an unexplained change in color is often a sign that water is present somewhere in the structure. It may be yellow, brown, or chalky white stains. A dark area in a carpet may indicate that water from some source is soaking the pad beneath.  
  • Deteriorating paint. Bubbling or peeling interior paint may indicate the presence of water affecting the interior of the wall structure.
  • Sagging walls or ceiling. Sagging drywall panels in walls or in the ceiling usually mean the material has absorbed a large volume of water. In severe cases, the affected drywall may collapse at any time.
  • Tile or other flooring warped and/or loose. Tile or wood flooring that has buckled, cracked, or come loose may be evidence of water damage affecting the sub-floor.
  • Swollen or warping walls and sticky door casings. If walls appear to swell and doors become difficult to close or open, dimensional changes caused by chronic water exposure may be the hidden cause.   
  • “Sweating” walls. Water that has entered a wall cavity may initially trigger the appearance of a thin film of moisture droplets on the outside of the wall similar to sweating.  
  • Mold growth. Anywhere and anytime you notice signs of active mold growth—blotches of black or greenish growth on surfaces—some source of water is present or has been very recently.

How to Deal With Porous Materials After a Flood

Thursday, August 6th, 2020

after a flood

There are a lot of issues to confront after a flood. Where damage inside a house is widespread, one of the major questions to resolve is what to keep and what to discard. From particular building materials to furnishings to personal possessions, choices must be made about how to manage important items after contact with floodwater.

The decision-making process after a flood depends largely on whether items are porous (water-absorbent) or non-porous. Per the Environmental Protection Agency, floodwater is toxic to humans. Porous items that have absorbed floodwater may, therefore, be considered hazardous to occupants—even long after a flood recedes. Also, porous absorbent materials form a breeding ground for toxic mold contamination typically triggered by exposure to floodwater.

  • Drywall. The gypsum material in drywall is porous and very absorbent. Drywall also becomes structurally unstable when wet. There’s no effective method to disinfect drywall after exposure to toxic floodwater. In addition to potentially hazardous contamination, the wet drywall may collapse at any time after a flood.
  • Insulation. Whether fiberglass batts or absorbent cellulose, common home insulation materials stay wet for an extended period after a flood and retain toxins. Wet insulation also spawns mold contamination that spreads throughout the house. Replace with new material.
  • Carpeting, rugs, and padding. Unless items have great sentimental or monetary value, specialized cleaning and disinfecting carpeting or rugs after a flood may not be worth it given the labor and cost involved. Discarding wet carpet and padding is often the most efficient option.
  • Mattresses. Once a mattress has been a giant sponge containing toxic floodwater, you won’t ever want to sleep on it again, anyway. Get rid of it.  
  • Clothing. Clothes or other fabrics contacted by flooding should be placed in plastic bags, then washed ASAP in hot water containing bleach or other disinfectants.
  • Books, documents, and photographs. Wet paper forms a mold-friendly environment after a flood. Unless items can be dried and decontaminated within 48 hours, mold growth may permanently damage paper. One alternative: Freezing wet paper items, including photographs, interrupts the mold growth process, buying time until items can be properly treated and dried.  

Repairing Water Damaged Doors

Tuesday, July 28th, 2020
water damaged doors

Water damaged doors are a frequent consequence of heavy rain and/or outdoor flooding. However, damaging water may also originate from less dramatic issues such as chronic splashing due to roof runoff or leaky gutters.

Water damaged doors don’t necessarily mean water damage inside the house. Worn weatherstripping around an exterior door may allow water to repeatedly penetrate just far enough to soak into the bottom of the door, triggering wood rot in the door and door frame.   

How Deep Is the Damage?

Checking for water damaged doors can be as easy as a simple inspection. Examine the bottom corners of exterior doors, where wood rot due to water exposure usually shows up first. Then, look across the lower edge of each door for signs of deterioration.

Use a finger to push against the door at the corners and along the bottom edge for wood that feels softened. This is a giveaway of wood rot inside water damaged doors. Unfortunately, once internal rotting has begun, in most cases, the cost-effective solution is to replace the door.  

Preventative Measures

A less serious sign of water damaged doors is a superficial deterioration of the outer finish that does not yet extend into the core of the door. Refinishing the damaged portion with sealant is typically enough to stop the process. Here’s a simple procedure to restore a waterproof finish and prevent water damaged doors. 

  • Clean the affected area of the door thoroughly with a household cleaner and allow it to dry.  
  • Very lightly sand the affected portion of the door with medium-grit sandpaper to take off superficial water damage without removing the coat of paint. This also makes a sealant adhere better to the surface.
  • Paint the area with a thin coat of clear multi-purpose wood sealant. Observe the manufacturer’s instructions for drying time, which will usually be two to four hours.
  • After it’s dry, very lightly sand the area again and apply a second coat of clear wood sealant. Leave the second coat un-sanded to form a tough seal against water.
  • Install new weatherstripping around the door frame and door sill.  

Recovering From Home Water Damage

Thursday, July 23rd, 2020
home water damage

After the water stops and you catch your breath and gather your thoughts, the process of recovering from home water damage begins. Reclaiming your home and peace of mind will probably be a major priority for the immediate future. The good news is: Experienced help is available from water damage mitigation experts who’ve been there and done it many times before. When home water damage suddenly disrupts your daily routine, these professionals have the training and specialized equipment to help you get your life back, ASAP.

Here are some steps to begin the process of recovery from home water damage: 

  • Make two important phone calls. First, inform your homeowners insurance agent. Then contact a reputable home water damage recovery company. Your insurance agent may suggest some local options. Look for a company certified by the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC).
  • Dress appropriately for the occasion: wear gloves and waterproof shoes. Boots are even better if you have them.
  • Be safety-conscious. Stay out of rooms where standing water is present until electricity is turned off at the main electrical panel. Saturated building materials may collapse without warning. Be aware of danger signs like a soaked, sagging ceiling or wet bulging drywall.
  • If home water damage is the result of a sewage backup, stay out of any affected areas of the house. Sewage is highly toxic and direct contact or even breathing the air may be hazardous. Wait for a professional water damage recovery service for further advice.
  • Once electrical hazards are eliminated and it’s safe to do so, remove as much water from the house as possible. Mop up water and/or use a broom to push pooling water outside through an exterior door. If you have a wet/dry vacuum and the use of electricity is safe, that’s another good option.
  • Open doors and windows to allow fresh air inside. Run fans continuously to keep air moving.  
  • Take photographs of all damaged areas which can be safely accessed now, before professional recovery work begins.
  • Start compiling a written list of all valuables contacted by water.