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How Serious Is Water Damage to My House?

Tuesday, June 29th, 2021
water damage to my house

Water damage happens in a variety of ways, which, in turn, require different methods to effectively and efficiently restore a house. Certain standardized parameters are utilized by qualified professionals to accurately establish the status of a house where damage has occurred, as well as determine appropriate procedures to achieve rapid, total restoration. Here are some of the criteria that can help you evaluate the seriousness of water damage in your home.

Water Damage Categories

Established by the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC), the following are recognized industry standards used to classify the type of water involved in a specific incident:

  • Category 1 – “Clean” water directly from a sanitary source such as a ruptured water supply line. This category does not pose a health threat to humans and generally does not require decontamination procedures if the damage is promptly treated by professional techniques.
  • Category 2 – “Gray” water originates from sources such as an overflowing appliance like a washing machine or bathroom fixture. This water is considered contaminated by microorganisms that could cause sickness.
  • Category 3 – The most toxic type of water, this category includes raw sewage backup as well as influx from outdoor flooding. Remediation requires extensive decontamination and protective gear. The affected house may need to be evacuated until recovery is completed.

Extent of Damage

  • Class 1 means the volume of water is small and limited to one room without more extensive spread.
  • Class 2 refers to a larger volume of water in a single room that has potentially damaged drywall and/or flooring.
  • Class 3 damage indicates severe damage affecting building materials, the electrical system, furniture, and possessions. Water has spread beneath walls and penetrated the structure of the house. Significant recovery techniques are required.  
  • Class 4 means water has penetrated porous materials like brick, stone, and concrete that require specialized drying methods over a more extended time frame.

Critical Time Factors

As the clock ticks, damage from water worsens by the hour.

  • From zero to 48 hours, water damage expands. Absorbent materials like drywall and carpeting become saturated and retain water.
  • At 48 hours, active mold growth begins and airborne spores spread contamination. Wood flooring and structure are warping and paint and wallpaper peel and blister.
  • After a week, mold has infected many materials. Major structural components may be permanently compromised. The house may be unsafe to enter except by properly equipped professionals.

Mold Remediation Process

Tuesday, June 15th, 2021
mold remediation process

Mold contamination is a statistically rare consequence of water damage. However, in the unlikely event that it occurs, a prompt mold remediation process is critical to prevent further spread.

Within 48 hours after water damage, a small potential for active mold growth exists. Confined in the enclosed environment of a house, microscopic spores released by active contamination could potentially accumulate to levels that trigger allergic reactions and chronic illness when inhaled by susceptible individuals. 

Should the need arise, here are the phases of an effective mold remediation process performed by qualified water damage professionals:

Inspection and Testing

Trained certified technicians utilize moisture meters and other technology to determine the extent of water damage inside the house. Visible inspection and if necessary, Indoor air and surface samples may be taken to detect the presence of mold spores, a generally reliable indicator of active contamination. In the small percentage of cases where active mold is confirmed, technicians can accurately estimate the extent of contamination as well as determine the specific type of mold growth.

Physical Containment

If mold is activated by water damage, contamination is on the move. Rytech professionals employ proven methods to prevent the spread of toxic spores. These include physically isolating areas where mold exists as well as establishing negative air pressure zones to keep spores from dispersing into uncontaminated areas.  

Advanced Filtration and Humidity Control

Because reproductive mold spores are airborne, high-efficiency filtration is utilized to remove microscopic spores and inhibit the spread of contamination. High humidity inside water-damaged homes also activates mold spores so industrial dehumidifiers also operate throughout the decontamination process.

Removal and Replacement

All existing mold contamination is physically removed from the house and affected surfaces sterilized with EPA-approved biocides. Where mold infection has permanently penetrated porous materials such as drywall and carpeting, these materials are removed and replaced with new material.

Testing

Airborne spore samples are taken throughout the mold remediation process to track the progress of mold removal and verify that recognized industry standards for decontamination are met. Follow-up air sampling is also performed after a specified time interval.

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.

Water Damage Technologies

Thursday, May 27th, 2021

If a water damage incident occurs in your home, you’ll want the most up-to-date water damage technologies to restore the house rapidly and thoroughly. In most cases, effective water damage recovery requires much more than a mop and a bucket to blot up a small puddle. Identifying the extent of damage, then locating and removing all the moisture—seen and unseen—is vital to stop the ongoing process in its tracks and restore a safe, healthy indoor environment.

An array of water damage technologies are utilized by trained, certified restoration professionals. Here are some examples of the tools that get the job done today:

  • Rapid extraction. Fast water extraction is a priority to remove the largest amount of water inside a home and halt the ongoing damage process, ASAP.  Powerful water extractors can remove even deep standing water at a rapid rate of multi-gallons per minute. If the water is not contaminated, sub-surface extractors can be utilized to lift water out of carpets and even the padding underneath without removing these materials.
  • Continuous dehumidification. After water escapes, water may spread widely throughout the entire structure, spreading damaging moisture and inhibiting the drying process. Professional dehumidification equipment can remove hundreds of pints of water from indoor air each day. These units run continuously during the restoration process to sustain a super-dry indoor environment that, with the help of high-volume air movers,  pulls vaporized moisture out of the structure rapidly.
  • Moisture detection. Locating and removing all moisture inside a home is a challenge after substantial water damage. Today’s water damage technologies include moisture meters to identify areas still affected by water as well as confirm the state of dryness after a restoration procedure. The most common type utilizes sharp insulated pins that can be inserted into building materials, penetrate wall voids, check beneath baseboards, and test other locations to detect moisture where it hides.
  • Moving air. Keeping the air in motion throughout water damage recovery speeds the drying process. Multiple high-volume air movers provide rapid, directional airflow that can be aimed across wet surfaces, including walls and flooring, to provide continuous drying to targeted areas.

Water Damage Common Causes for Restoration

Tuesday, May 25th, 2021
water damage

If a common water damage incident occurs in your house, is restoration by qualified professionals always necessary? Maybe so, maybe not. Water can affect a structure in a spectrum of severity ranging from relatively minor events to widespread, extreme damage. In certain cases, fast action by homeowners to stop a minor source of water, then remove the small amount of moisture present before it spreads further, may be sufficient to avoid the need for professional restoration.  

However, there are many other causes and scenarios that make the services of professional water damage recovery experts necessary. If water damage is enough to trigger an insurance claim, for example, most homeowners insurance companies require restoration by certified professionals. Common causes that make the difference between a possible DIY scenario and one which requires water damage restoration experts include:

Amount of Water

If water released does not exceed a small pool on a hard surface floor and has not migrated beyond that limited location, timely clean-up with mops and drying with fans may be sufficient.  

If the water volume is sufficient to seep under baseboards and spread into other rooms, penetrate flooring material, or drip through ceilings into rooms below, qualified water damage recovery services are required. If carpet is present and saturated, this is also often an indicator for professional services.

Source of Water

If water originates from tainted sources like an overflowing washing machine or toilet—or it is the result of a sewage backup—this is a potentially hazardous scenario and requires professional water damage recovery.

If the damage is caused by outdoor flooding, all floodwater is considered toxic and restoration must be handled by properly equipped, certified personnel.  

Duration of Damage

Once water from any source has been present in a house for 48 hours, the requirement for specialized mold remediation becomes more likely. Active mold growth requires proven, effective techniques to sanitize affected surfaces and building materials and prevent the spread of contamination throughout the entire house. Restoration of a mold-contaminated house is always a job for professionals.

Water Damage Mitigation Process

Thursday, May 20th, 2021
water damage mitigation

Water damage mitigation brings together specialized equipment, trained, certified technicians, and standardized procedures to return your home to a fully dry, safe environment. Effective mitigation of water damage is an established field of ongoing research with specific standards of practice developed by the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC). Professional water damage mitigation provides an orderly, efficient system with proven techniques and established criteria to ensure optimum results.   

What’s Involved in Water Damage Mitigation?

  • Rapid response. Any incident of water damage affecting your home is a time-critical issue. As minutes elapse, water continues spreading inside a structure and the potential for damage expands. Rytech technicians are ready to respond 24/7/365 and arrive fully equipped to take immediate steps to stop the process in its tracks and apply proven techniques to counteract the effects of water damage.  
  • Inspection and assessment. A qualified technician will inspect the premises to determine the source and type of water damage as well as estimate the extent of damage within the house. With this information, an effective plan to address all issues can be developed and put into action immediately. This orderly approach ensures organized efficient teamwork to deal with circumstances specific to each individual incident.
  • Getting the water out. Time is of the essence to inhibit the further spread of water within the house. Therefore, powerful industrial water extractors and pumps are utilized to remove the major volume of water in the shortest time possible. In addition to limiting the scope of damage within the house, rapid water removal also helps reduce the potential for mold contamination in the wake of water damage.
  • Deeper drying. After visible standing water is removed, residual moisture typically still remains in less-accessible areas of the structure. Proven technology, including high-volume, directional air movers and continuous dehumidification, are brought to bear to expedite the drying of all residual moisture. Depending on the volume and scope of water damage, the drying process may extend over several days.  
  • Sanitizing and deodorizing. Sanitizing surfaces affected by water utilizing EPA-approved antimicrobials helps prevent toxic mold contamination. Air scrubbers, meanwhile, remove the musty odors often associated with water damage.
  • Structural repairs. Certain building materials do not resist extensive contact with water. Examples include saturated drywall or incidents where standing water has penetrated flooring into the subfloor. If these are successfully returned to a dry moisture standard, they do not require removal and replacement.

Typical Cost of Water Damage

Tuesday, May 18th, 2021
cost of water damage

Water damage restoration is not a rare event in American homes. Over one-third of households in the U.S. have filed a homeowner’s insurance claim for damage due to water originating from some source. Statistics from one major homeowners’ insurance company show that residences are up to 10 times more likely to incur damage from water than from fire.

In general, the average cost of residential water damage restoration ranges from $2,000 up to $5,000 with a median cost currently at $3,600. At the extremes, damage from a minor incident that is quickly controlled such as a toilet overflow could be less than $800, while a home entirely flooded with over six inches of water would likely exceed $20,000.   

Some of the major factors that influence the cost of water damage restoration include:

  • Type of water. Where the water originates matters. A ruptured plumbing supply line leaking clean water is certainly damaging. However, the cost of remediation by water damage professionals will be substantially less than an incident that involves tainted water such as an appliance overflow—known as “gray water”—or, worse, a sewage backup that is hazardous toxic “black water.” Events involving these categories impose extra complications of removing contaminated water and then sanitizing the structure to make it safe to occupy again.  
  • How far it’s spread. From the outset of a damaging incident, the water’s on the move. Hour by hour, the more time that elapses before intervention by water damage professionals occurs, the deeper water penetrates into the structure and the more costly restoration will be. Reputable water damage recovery firms offer rapid response 24-hours a day in order to limit the spread of water, ASAP.  
  • Active mold growth. Mold contamination is a significant complication of water damage and adds to the cost of remediation. Active mold growth triggered by exposure to moisture generally begins in 24 to 48 hours following water damage. Prompt professional water extraction and drying techniques are critical to reducing costly mold contamination.  

Disaster Strikes! Seconds Count!

Thursday, May 13th, 2021
water damage

Water damage often doesn’t give advance warning and, once it strikes, the clock is ticking. Rapid response by certified water damage professionals is vital to minimize damage as well as ensure the most rapid and successful recovery. Here’s a sample timeline of events if proper professional treatment is delayed:

During the First 60 Minutes

Water rapidly spreads away from the point of origin, seeping under walls, penetrating ceilings into lower floors, and creating a saturated path of damage. Vulnerable items such as papers, books, photos, and artwork contacted by water may be already affected. Water entering electrical outlets or shorting extension cords may trip circuit breakers and shut power off.

After 24 Hours

Various materials affected by water begin to react as damage expands. Drywall absorbs water readily and begins to deform, but, if drying starts quickly, it can be saved. Laminated wood items in the house deteriorate as glues in the wood are dissolved by water. Fabrics in contact with water could bleed colors and may cause permanentl stains. HVAC ductwork may now be inundated. The pungent, musty odor associated with water damage becomes noticeable. 

At 48 Hours

Standing water inside the house may start to become contaminated by microorganisms. Paint on wet surfaces may begin to blister and affected doors could swell and become difficult to open or close due to the elevated moisture and indoor humidity. Hardwood flooring starts swelling, and eventually, warping and buckling.

Several Days Later

Depending on the volume and type of water involved, the house may be no longer safe to occupy. Residents, in some cases, may need to temporarily relocate elsewhere. Mold contamination can start to spread and indoor air may become unhealthy to breathe without N-95 face masks. If things continue to progress, the house structure may become unstable as saturated drywall walls and ceilings may collapse without warning. Water-soaked wiring and junction boxes could present electrical hazards. In some cases, the extensive restoration now required means the cost and time frame of recovery are increasing substantially.  The moral of the story is that seconds count in water damage mitigation. 

Ten Critical Steps for Visible Water Ceiling Damage

Tuesday, May 11th, 2021
water ceiling damage

Water ceiling damage is one of the most common and easily identified issues in homes. Because water always flows downward, a number of overhead sources may be to blame. No matter what the cause, what’s indisputable about water ceiling damage is it’s unsightly and shouldn’t be ignored.

Here are 10 steps for identifying and remedying ceiling water damage:

  1. “Sweating” pipes can cause water ceiling damage. Cold water pipes routed through a hot, humid attic form condensation that may drip down onto ceilings.
  2. Be careful. Water ceiling damage can also be hazardous. Severely saturated ceilings may collapse under their own weight.  
  3. Ceilings shouldn’t sag. Soaked ceiling drywall loses structural integrity and deforms, typically sagging downward. This is usually a sign of saturation caused by water ceiling damage.
  4. First, stop the source. Identify potential leak sources above the ceiling or in the attic and take necessary steps to eliminate the water source.
  5. If the room is directly below a bathroom, leakage from a water supply line or a bathtub/shower stall drain pipe is a prime suspect. 
  6. Investigate all stains. Discolorations mysteriously forming on white ceilings are never normal. They may be darkened areas or rusty-colored stains in a variety of shapes and sizes. In most cases, the explanation is water damage.  
  7. Mold growth = water damage. Mold growing inside moist drywall that forms the ceiling often appears as mottled black spots. Moldy discolorations on the ceiling typically indicate water leakage from an overhead source. 
  8. Relieve the pressure. If a portion of a ceiling is saturated and sagging, placing a bucket below the wet spot and punching a hole in the ceiling can drain some of the water.
  9. Replacement may be easier than repair. Replacing water-damaged ceiling drywall may be the quickest and more effective remedy than patching existing material.
  10. Roof leakage into the attic may eventually manifest as water ceiling damage indoors. Ceiling stains may not appear directly beneath roof leaks into the attic because water seepage may travel along attic rafters and other structures before damaging the ceiling.  

What Is Water Damage Triage?

Tuesday, May 4th, 2021
water damage triage

Water damage triage is the organized process of reversing damage caused by water and restoring a secure, healthy indoor environment to your home as rapidly as possible. Water damage often occurs out of the blue. Faced with snap decisions about what needs to be done first, a homeowner’s understandable response might well be, “Everything!”

Water damage triage applies a standardized method to water damage assessment and remediation, based on scientific research and experience in the industry. Professionals apply established techniques and procedures in a very specific sequence to produce optimum results in the shortest time frame possible.

While water damage triage necessarily varies according to many factors, here’s a general sequence in a typical project:

  • Inspection. Arriving on the scene, a rapid, extensive inspection is conducted to determine the source of the water as well as the extent to which it has spread within the house. Safety is part of water damage triage as electrical hazards in the wet environment and/or structural issues are identified. Moisture meters and other technology are utilized to track down the spread of water in the structure.
  • Removal of saturated material. Items that may retain water, such as soaked mattresses, sofas, throw rugs, and other movable material, are taken out of the house. Saturated drywall, soaked insulation, and other building materials which can’t be dried may also be removed.
  • Eliminating standing water. Using specialized equipment designed for high-volume water removal, all standing water is rapidly removed from the house. Powerful extractors are utilized to pull water out of carpets and even solid flooring. Where deep water exists, such as a flooded basement, submersible pumps are put to work.
  • Drying. Residual moisture inside the house is dried using a combination of high-powered air movers as well as industrial-grade dehumidifiers. These devices run continuously throughout the process to eliminate the remaining water in the structure.  
  • Testing and verification. Throughout water damage triage, moisture meter data and humidity readings track the reduction of moisture inside the house. The structure must meet published industry standards for dryness before the project can be concluded.