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Water Damage: How Bad Is It?

Thursday, February 25th, 2021
water damage

Water damage differs from house to house, depending on a number of variables.  One thing that doesn’t vary, however, is the concern and urgency a homeowner experiences when such damage occurs. A certified water damage specialist knows the feeling well, and is also trained and experienced to evaluate the severity of the damage, and then apply appropriate procedures to restore the home to a safe, healthy environment.

After the source of water has been stopped, here are some of the factors a water damage pro will consider to determine the level of damage and the most effective treatment.

Source

The origin of the water is a major element in assessing the extent of the damage. For recovery and restoration purposes, industry professionals categorize the source of water into three types:

  • Type 1 water is “clean” water coming directly from a broken pipe or other sanitary origin and present in the house for not more than 24 to 48 hours.
  • Type 2 is “gray” water, mildly contaminated from sources like a washing machine or dishwasher overflow or rainwater leaking through a roof leak. Type 2 also includes Type 1 water damage that has been present for more than 48 hours.
  • Type 3 is “black” water, a raw sewage backup, or an influx of outdoor floodwater. This presents severe health threats and requires advanced decontamination methods to make the indoor environment safe again.  

Extent

The volume and extent of water spreading away from the source impact remediation. Where the quantity of water damage is minor and limited to a single room, recovery is relatively uncomplicated. If the water has spread under walls to other rooms and seeped deeper into the structure, however, more comprehensive recovery techniques are required.

Duration

The clock is ticking. How long has the water been present in the house? Microbial Growth triggered by exposure to water inside a home begins in 24 to 48 hours. Treatment and recovery are simplified if professional water extraction and drying techniques along with approved mitigation procedures are applied before that time frame elapses and microbial growth begins.

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.

Water Damage: Why Is Speedy Repair Critical?

Thursday, October 22nd, 2020
water damage

Once it strikes inside a home, water damage waits for no one. In scientific terms, water is classified as the “universal solvent.” For good reason: it penetrates, dissolves, and deteriorates more substances than any liquid on earth. The damage that occurs due to the influx of water inside a home isn’t a self-limiting event. It’s an active, ongoing process that keeps on keeping on as time passes.

Certified by the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning, and Restoration Certification (IICRC), professional water damage recovery services are available 24/7 365 days a year to intervene and stop the steadily worsening process of water damage, and then begin remediation immediately. Here are some examples of why rapid response and proven techniques are critical to minimizing water damage losses.  

  • From the very first minutes of an incident, water spreads, seeping under baseboards and into adjoining rooms. Since water always flows downward, if an event occurs on an upper level, water will soon penetrate ceilings into rooms below, as well.
  • Absorbent building materials are early casualties. Drywall is permeable and highly absorbent. Just a few inches of pooling water on a floor may be absorbed as far as two feet upward into drywall. Soaked drywall swells and loses structural integrity and may collapse at any time. Insulation inside exterior wall voids may become saturated and require replacement, too.  
  • Flooring exposed to pooling water soon begins deteriorating. Common glued wood laminate flooring disintegrates quickly and is typically unsalvageable. Hardwood floors absorb water more slowly but begin to warp or buckle within 24 hours after water damage, requiring replacement or expensive repair.
  • After 48 hours, dormant mold spores in hidden areas are activated water damage. Growing mold begins proliferating throughout the house, releasing airborne reproductive spores that spread contamination. A mold-contaminated house presents severe health hazards to individuals with mold sensitivity.
  • As water penetrates deeper into the structure, household systems are at risk. In most cases, electrical wiring that has been contacted by water no longer meets safety code standards and must be replaced. Outlets and circuit breakers are also ruined. HVAC ductwork may become flooded and retain water.

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. 

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.

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.

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.  

How Long Should I Use a Post-Leak Dehumidifier

Thursday, July 2nd, 2020

water damage recovery

Comprehensive water damage recovery—including prevention of secondary effects such as mold contamination—means extracting all the moisture from the house. This includes the major volume of water you may see pooling on floors, saturating carpets, or flooding the basement. Powerful extractors, high-volume air movers, and pumps are utilized by water damage professionals during this phase. 

However, effective water damage recovery also means drying out the moisture you can’t see: seepage under and inside walls, wet building materials like drywall, saturated floor substrate, as well as damaging high water vapor content in the air. To remove those additional sources of water damage, use of high-volume professional dehumidifiers is critical.  

The Professional Approach

Consumer-grade home dehumidifiers typically can’t remove more than 5 to 7 gallons of water over a 24-hour period, an amount insufficient for significant damage. Commercial dehumidifiers utilized by water damage professionals extract over 20 gallons of water per day from indoor air and multiple units are typically deployed inside a water-damaged house. The ultra-dry indoor environment created by continuous dehumidification eliminates hidden water from the structure, draws absorbed moisture out of building materials, and keeps indoor humidity continuously low.

How Dry Is Dry Enough?

The question frequently arises about how long a dehumidifier needs to run after water damage. The only responsible answer is: “As long as it takes to dry the house.” There’s no set time requirement and duration can range from only 12 hours up to several weeks in very extreme circumstances. The volume of water involved, the extent of the spread inside the structure, the type of construction materials affected and other variables play a role. However, here are a few general guidelines:

  • In average cases, recovery professionals keep dehumidifiers and high-volume fans running continuously from 24 hours up to four days to achieve acceptable dryness. 
  • Moisture meter readings in various parts of the structure are one specification that determines dryness. Generally, moisture readings of 6% to 8% in specified building materials are considered dry.
  • To prevent the activation of mold growth, the indoor relative humidity should be effectively stabilized below 50%.