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Can Electronics be Salvaged After a Flood?

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2019

Water inundating a home affects everything it comes into contact with to some degree. The quandary for the homeowner trying to sort things out is deciding which items can be saved and which must be discarded. This is particularly true of electronics, as these are usually very vulnerable to water damage and typically costly to replace.

First, be aware of some specific rules dealing with wet electronics:

  • Don’t turn on electronics that are suspected of exposure to water or high levels of water vapor. Leave them off and unplug the unit.
  • Don’t try to dry electronic components in a microwave oven or conventional oven.
  • Don’t open up wet electronic items yourself to let them air-dry. Refer that job to a qualified electronics technician. Your water damage specialist can usually recommend one.

Here are some ways water damage typically will affect electronics:

High Humidity

Water flooding a house raises indoor humidity into the extreme range. Water vapor in the air easily penetrates electronic devices and condenses on circuit boards and other components. As long as the device has not been powered on, a professional technician can usually dry and clean these components in a cost-effective procedure

Rainfall or Splashing Water

Rain may contact electronics inside the house if the roof is damaged in a storm, for example. If standing water is present, splashing may affect electronic components in otherwise dry areas near the water. If direct rain or splashing has contacted an electronic item, professional drying and cleaning can often restore them, as long as there was limited contact with water. However, note that this recovery process must begin ASAP as corrosion affecting circuit boards begins rapidly after water exposure.

Water Submersion

In most cases, electronics totally submerged under water are not recoverable or not worth the high cost of attempting professional salvage. Replacing the unit is usually more financially viable. If data storage devices such as hard drives are involved, these components can be removed from the wet unit and are a good candidate for recovery services that can rescue the data, but this service can run high, as well.

Can Drywall be Sealed and Painted After Water Damage?

Tuesday, June 4th, 2019

When indoor water damage strikes, drywall is often among the most conspicuous casualties. A ruptured pipe inside a wall cavity, a roof leak dripping down through the ceiling during heavy rain, water flooding a room and rising to meet the bottom of the walls—any of these scenarios can affect the highly absorbent combination of gypsum core and thin cardboard backing that composes a sheet of drywall. Is it a lost cause?

Maybe, Maybe Not

If wet drywall loses structural stability and sags or becomes deformed —or crumbles or collapses—it’s not a candidate for anything other than replacement. But what about drywall that remains intact, yet displays the discolored blotch that’s often left behind when wet drywall dries? Can you successfully seal and paint that ugly stain out of your life?

Here are some guidelines to painting stained, water-damaged drywall.

  • Rule 1: You can’t paint drywall until it’s completely dry. Ideally, this should be verified with use of a moisture meter to be certain. To adequately dry soaked drywall and prevent mold growth, professional water damage remediation experts utilize equipment such as an industrial dehumidifier running inside the sealed room as well as high-volume fans that continuously move air to accelerate the drying process. Only when the moisture meter reading drops below 1% —usually not before at least three days of intensive drying following the initial contact with water—should painting intact drywall be considered.
  • Once it is tested and confirmed dry, seal the drywall by painting the affected area with a thin application of an oil-based or alcohol-based primer. Allow the first coat to dry completely, then apply a second coat of primer.
  • After the primer has fully dried, you can apply the first coat of latex or whatever other type of paint was originally used. It may be difficult to match the existing color when painting only a small stained area affected by water, so you may have to paint the entire wall or ceiling for consistency’s sake. After the first coat dries thoroughly, apply a finish coat.

The Four Degrees of Water Damage and How to Deal With Them

Thursday, December 6th, 2018

water damage cleanupWater damage incidents differ according to the origin of the water, the scope and spread of damage inside the house and the materials affected. In order to properly evaluate water damage as well as develop systematic procedures for fast, effective recovery, the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) along with the insurance industry have developed a standardized method to classify water damage. While there will naturally be variations in some cases, broadly speaking, most water damage events will fit into one of the following four classes:

Class One

These are the smallest events, limited to one room. Spillage is often simply a brief overflow of a sink, or a leaky pipe, and is pooled on a hard, non-absorbent floor. Water has not seeped beneath baseboards and entered wall voids or penetrated into adjoining rooms. Clean-up and drying are usually uncomplicated if the situation is noted and resolved promptly.

Class Two

This class includes water damage that has affected an entire room, contacting absorbent materials that may include wood flooring, saturated drywall, and wooden structural components inside walls. In cases of a flooded basement, this class includes water that does not exceed a depth of 24 inches. Rapid response is required, including professional mold remediation to prevent contamination that is usually triggered within 24 to 48 hours.

Class Three

In this scenario, water damage has affected multiple rooms, Typically, inundation originates from a source such as a ruptured plumbing supply line that has released a large volume of water. Associated events often include collapsed ceilings, damaged electrical components or other structure. Entering and/or working inside a house with Class Three water damage may be hazardous and should only be handled by qualified professionals.

Class Four

In these most severe cases, a house might be declared a total loss. Class Four events include deep inundation of the structure due to weather-related flooding that likely includes toxins such as raw sewage and chemicals. Most of the house has generally been submerged to some extent, often for an extended period of time, and structural integrity has been severely and perhaps permanently compromised.

How to Spot Signs of Water Damage When Buying a Home

Thursday, October 4th, 2018

Among the secrets you want to know about a house you’re considering buying, a history of past water damage is high on the list. A water damage incident can present a costly issue for future owners years later. Serious structural damage and established toxic mold growth are among the permanent consequences; cosmetic effects are also evident to the eye.

water damage disclosureConspicuous signs of past damage—or quick fixes to cover it up while the house is for sale—frequently indicate that qualified professional water damage remediation services were not utilized at the time of the incident. This is a red flag that could, in fact, ultimately turn out to be a deal-breaker. It’s always wise to have a certified home inspector conduct an in-depth evaluation before committing to buying a home that shows evidence of water damage issues.

Here are some signs to look for:

  • Keep alert for musty odors, especially in damage-prone zones like the basement. These are typically indicative of ongoing mold growth resulting from past and/or present water damage.
  • Check for ceiling water stains. There’s rarely a good alternate explanation for stains on a ceiling. A water leak—somewhere, sometime—is usually the origin of it. Ask the present owner.
  • Test the solidity of flooring around tubs, shower stalls, dishwashers and washing machines. If it feels spongy or is sagging, the floor structure may be compromised by past water spillage.
  • Inspect hard flooring. Signs such as buckling, warping, cracks and de-lamination may indicate that the floor was saturated by water at some time, then improperly dried.
  • Open cabinets. Look inside cabinets under sinks for stains and other discolorations that are telltale signs of a supply line or drain leak.
  • Up in the attic. Look for signs of roof leakage that usually manifest as dark streaks on the underside of the roof sheathing. Check attic insulation for evidence of mold triggered by past roof leakage.
  • Down in the basement. Unexplained puddles, dripping, and noticeably high humidity mean you’ll be dealing with a chronically wet basement. Streaked basement walls or discolored floor caused by ground water seepage and/or past flooding is another tip-off.

3 Tips for Cleaning Up Water Damage After a Fire

Friday, September 7th, 2018

water damage from fireWater damage is a crisis any time it strikes. When it occurs as the consequence of extinguishing a destructive household fire, however, more complexity is added to an already stressful event. Consider this surprising statistic: For a typical blaze in a residence, on average, firefighters disperse about 3,000 gallons of water to put it out. Water damage associated with a fire may be more widespread than damage from a common isolated source such as a ruptured plumbing pipe. Structural damage caused by the fire may pose multiple safety hazards. Often, you may need permission from the Fire Marshall before you can even re-enter your home to begin clean-up.

For all the above reasons and more, water damage after a fire is a scenario that requires professional expertise and specialized equipment. However, the homeowner can take a few preliminary steps to mitigate some of the damage and prepare for remediation by trained, qualified specialists.

  • Ventilate the house. High indoor humidity accumulating inside a soaked structure causes secondary water damage and makes cleaning up more difficult. As soon as you are allowed back into the house, open doors and windows and, if you have electricity, turn on fans to circulate air. Continuous ventilation supports the evaporation process that is critical to drying the premises.
  • Remove pooling water where possible. Where water is pooled on hard surface floors, mop it up or use old towels to absorb it. If an exterior door is nearby, open the door and push water outside using a floor squeegee or a push broom. Removing these accessible sources of water lowers indoor humidity as well as preventing further migration of water into dry areas.
  • Get soaked items outside. Absorbent materials that are now soaked should be removed to the outdoors, ASAP. This includes mattresses, sofas and cushions, drapes, throw rugs and other fabrics. Some saturated carpeting can be dried in place by a water damage recovery service using extraction equipment and may not need to be removed. Get an informed opinion from an expert before you decide to remove soaked carpeting.


When the Flood Is Over, the Damage Has Just Begun…

Thursday, August 30th, 2018

flooring damaged from floodWhen it comes to water damage after a flood, it’s not over when it’s over. Flooding often delivers a one-two punch. First there’s the immediate initial damage to your home and possessions caused by submersion. Once floodwater recedes, however, the aftermath includes a period in which water damage continues to worsen progressively. That’s why rapid response by a qualified water damage recovery team is vital in the immediate wake of flooding. Even though the house isn’t underwater anymore, the damage has just begun.

Here are some examples of what goes on after the water goes away:

  • Mold growth begins within 48 hours following exposure to moisture. Toxic mold growth starts getting a foothold plus releasing airborne reproductive spores. Contamination intensifies rapidly unless/until professional mold remediation techniques are utilized to interrupt the cycle.
  • Health threats multiply. Floodwater often carries disease-causing pathogens such as hepatitis virus, e Coli bacteria, cryptosporidium and giardia which continue to infect the wet, enclosed environment of the house. Disease-carrying mosquitoes may also lay eggs in residual indoor water after a flood.
  • Saturated wallboard and ceilings begin to sag beneath the weight, losing structural integrity and eventually collapsing.  This is another reason why the interior environment frequently remains dangerous after a flood.
  • Corrosion begins forming on electrical wiring, outlets and switch boxes contacted by the water. Certain affected electrical components will require replacement for safe operation.
  • Laminate flooring starts peeling up. Hardwood flooring which has been underwater often begins to warp as it dries, pulling up and away from nails.
  • Soaked insulation inside walls and elsewhere tends to stays wet. In addition to supporting hidden mold growth, wet insulation loses its insulating properties and no longer functions to resist heat.
  • If a flooded basement is pumped out too rapidly, the weight of saturated soil surrounding the foundation may deform or collapse basement walls.
  • A slab foundation lifted by inundating floodwater may crack as soil begins to dry out and settle again. Embedded plumbing pipes may break, cracks may form in exterior walls and the roof may sag.

Water And Mold Damage From Your HVAC System?

Monday, August 20th, 2018

Summer heat hasn’t skipped Indiana this year. We’ve been busy helping Hoosiers deal with a little-known cause of water damage and mold, water leaks from their HVAC system. Those who live in Indy, know that the humidity can be unbearable. Few realize that their HVAC system can pull up to 20 gallons of moisture from the air inside their home on a humid day.

These photos are from two job sites, where the HVAC system had been leaking for some time before the homeowner realized it was happening. This is common, given that most of our systems are crammed in spaces we rarely use every day.  Sometimes, we aren’t aware of the problem until there are signs of water damage to adjacent drywall or flooring materials.

McCordsville, IN. 46055 – 7/5/2018: Second floor water and mold damage from HVAC condensate line

mold damage from HVAC leak - Rytech Indianapolis

Rytech Indianapolis – HVAC mold damage

HVAC water damage - Rytech Indianapolis

Rytech Indianapolis – HVAC water damage

Indianapolis, IN. 46217 – 7/18/2018: mold damage from HVAC system water leak

Hidden mold damage from HVAC - Rytech Indianapolis

Rytech Indianapolis – hidden mold damage from HVAC

Drywall mold damage from HVAC water leak

Rytech Indianapolis – drywall mold damage from HVAC

Have you discovered mold or water damage to your property from an HVAC water leak? Call us at (317) 203-9044 to schedule an assessment appointment. We will work with your insurance company, and honestly advise you on the best way to restore your property.

How to Track Down the Source of Ceiling Water Damage

Thursday, August 2nd, 2018

ceiling water damageOne thing about ceiling water damage: it’s hard to miss. Once it appears, it’s the very first thing you’ll notice every time you walk into the room from then on.

Most ceilings are composed of gypsum wallboard that discolors as water soaks in. In addition to causing conspicuous stains, water absorption also compromises the structural integrity of gypsum and poses a real risk that some part of the ceiling may eventually fall in. Whether large or small, ceiling water damage is an issue that needs to be tracked back to its source and resolved. Here are some possible causes:

Roof Leaks

When the affected ceiling is in a room below the attic, rain water penetrating the roof may be dripping down on the attic side of the ceiling. In addition to threatening the solidity of the ceiling, ongoing roof leaks also ruin attic insulation and trigger mold growth. Because water may drip onto the ceiling some distance away from the point where it actually penetrates the shingles and sub-roof, a professional roof inspection is required to pinpoint the location of the leak.

Bathroom Problems

If the ceiling issue is on a lower floor beneath an upstairs bathroom, the possibilities are obvious. A water supply pipe inside a bathroom wall may be covertly dripping. Leaks can also result from a defective wax seal around the toilet. A particularly troublesome source is the drain pan sealed underneath the shower stall. Leaks in the not-easily-accessible pan manifest as a conspicuous ceiling stain in the room below. Leaks from plumbing inside walls or a defective drain pan under the shower stall should be diagnosed and repaired by a qualified plumber.

Attic Issues

Hot, humid air accumulating in the attic during summer may trigger chronic condensation on cold air conditioning ducts routed there. It can saturate attic insulation and damage the ceiling below. Wrapping air duct insulation around the ductwork prevents contact with humid air and resultant condensation. Also, bathroom or kitchen exhaust fan ducts in the attic that are leaky or disconnected may continuously discharge warm, moist air onto the ceiling that triggers deterioration.


Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Water Damage?

Thursday, July 26th, 2018

homeowners insurance for floodingIf water damage strikes your home, one of the first calls you’ll likely make is to your homeowner’s insurance agent. For the premiums you’ve paid, you expect quick response to minimize losses and get recovery underway. Your first question may well be: Does my policy cover this? The answer, however, may not always be what you want to hear. Here’s where a typical homeowner’s insurance policy applies to water damage and where it doesn’t.

Got You Covered

Ruptured water pipes, washing machine or toilet overflows and other similar indoor plumbing-related incidents are typically covered by homeowner’s insurance. In most cases, two aspects of a standard policy provide compensation: Dwelling coverage pays for structural damage to the house while personal property coverage compensates for possessions damaged by water. Remember that a deductible specified in your policy will likely apply and coverage limits dictate maximum amounts.

Mold remediation required after water inundation is also usually covered as long as the water damage event itself is covered. For example, mold remediation after a pipe rupture would be covered but not mold resulting from chronic long-term issues like high indoor humidity.

Maybe. Maybe Not.

Coverage for some water damage is conditional, depending on the circumstances. If the water originates from a roof leak due to a sudden event like a falling tree striking the roof during a storm, for example, you’re covered. If the roof leak results from an ongoing issue like normal wear-and-tear you’ve neglected to have repaired, however, you’ll have to pay for the damage yourself. Ditto for ground water seepage into basements.

Sorry, No

Outdoor flooding that enters your house is not covered by homeowner’s insurance. Federal flood insurance is what’s required. Because no area is totally immune to flooding, you need a government-backed National Flood Insurance Policy (NFIP) sold by many private insurance agents.

Sewer backups into the house are also not within the scope of a basic homeowner’s insurance policy. However, in most cases you can purchase a rider to add sewer coverage to a standard policy. This typically increases annual cost of coverage by $40 to $150.

Post-flood Hazards To Watch Out For In Your Home

Tuesday, April 10th, 2018

flood hazardsCarpet mold after flooding is just one of the issues that confronts a homeowner as the water recedes. Once-familiar surroundings can seem like an alien environment following major water damage. Before you’ve even come to grips with what’s already happened, you have to make decisions about what needs to be done next.

Not so fast. A flooded home is a source of hazards you need to be aware of. Before you enter the house and spend time on the premises, keep in mind these ongoing safety issues.

Utility Issues
Make sure power is turned off at the main electrical panel before you enter any wet areas of the home. If accessing the panel is unsafe due to residual water, leave the house and call an electrician. Natural gas lines may have ruptured as appliances were shifted by floodwater, posing fire or explosion hazard. Turn the gas off at the meter before entering the house.

Toxic Hazards
Outdoor floodwater is contaminated by raw sewage, pesticides, fuel and other substances. Communicable bacteria like E. Coli commonly infects floodwater, too. Avoid contact with bare skin and wash thoroughly before handling food or eating. Residue such as mud left behind is also tainted.

Air inside a flooded house may be hazardous. Within 48 hours after exposure to water, toxic mold growth is triggered, releasing airborne spores that may cause severe allergic response or illness when inhaled. Carpeting and padding are highly absorbent so carpet mold after flooding is a virtual certainty. Because toxic water may have inundated HVAC ductwork, the system should be inspected and cleaned if necessary before operating the A/C or furnace.

Structural Danger
Water-saturated drywall is heavy and may collapse under its weight without warning. Stay away from bulging walls or sagging ceilings. Buckled flooring may cause trip and fall hazards. The home’s foundation may be compromised due to severe flooding, as well. Tilting walls or a shifting roof are signs that could indicate a potential structural collapse.

Whether its carpet mold after flooding or structural dangers caused by water damage, Rytech professionals are ready to respond.