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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.

How Water Damages Surfaces and How to Restore Them

Tuesday, June 8th, 2021
hot water damage

Indoor water damage affects the surface of common building materials in two ways. First, certain materials are subject to deterioration when contacted by water. A prime example is drywall that forms walls and ceilings. Another damaging factor is the absorption of water into the material itself. This is often an issue when water pools on floor surfaces like hardwood or engineered wood.  

Here’s how water damages the surface of these common materials:

Drywall

Drywall consists of white gypsum sandwiched between an external surface layer of thick paper. These materials are vulnerable to water and may be stained on the surface if wet or permanently damaged if severely saturated. Steps taken by water damage professionals to mitigate drywall damage include:

  • Circulating air.  High-volume air movers can accurately direct airflow across wet drywall surfaces to rapidly dry the walls and ceilings.  
  • Humidity reduction. High humidity common inside a water-damaged room triggers condensation that stains and deteriorates drywall. Industrial dehumidifiers are utilized to rapidly reduce indoor humidity following water damage.

Drywall that is wet and is dried in a timely manner can often be repainted to cover stains. Where drywall is completely saturated for a significant period of time, however, may require replacement.

Wood Floors

It’s a basic fact of nature that wood is absorbent. Water contacting a hardwood floor may discolor the surface. Swelling and warpage of the wood may also occur if the water is present for an extended time and absorbed. If water penetrates deeply, it will saturate the plywood subfloor beneath the wood flooring material, as well.  To prevent damage to wood floors, these techniques are helpful:

  • Rapid removal. Time is of the essence to save wooden floors affected by water. The quicker water is removed, the less damage may occur to floor surfaces as well as the deeper material structure. Removing pooling water and drying floors as soon as possible is critical to prevent surface staining, internal deterioration, and ancillary issues like mold contamination.
  • Deep extraction and drying. The technology used by professionals can extract moisture and dry floors effectively in many cases to minimize water damage. Powerful extractors pull moisture out of the wood and floor structure beneath.  Heat drying systems can direct deep heating directly into the floor material to accelerate drying.

If dried in time, hardwood floors that are not severely warped or swelling can often be restored by sanding and refinishing the material. 

Rytech’s Commercial Water Damage Service

Thursday, June 3rd, 2021
commercial water damage service

When there’s a need for commercial water damage service, the scale and consequences of damage are often more extensive than residential incidents. Potential losses may be greater, as well, as critical equipment and products may be endangered and normal business interrupted. Company workers may also be facing a disruption in income because the affected building is not habitable.

Here are some other reasons why commercial water damage can be specifically challenging:

  • Higher water pressure.  Commercial buildings often utilize higher water pressure to service the larger structure plus specific needs relating to the company business. That means a greater volume of water may be released faster into the building in the event of a ruptured water supply line.
  • Larger roof area. Because of the typically larger square footage of a commercial building, the potential damage from roof leakage is also more likely. Since many commercial roofs are flat, leakage from deep standing water on the roof due to inadequate or blocked roof drainage is also more prevalent.
  • Hidden damage. Commercial buildings often incorporate more areas of the structure where water damage can occur without immediate notice. Plumbing pipes are often routed through unseen or seldom-visited areas.
  • Unoccupied premises. Because commercial buildings are often not occupied for long periods over weekends and holidays, water damage occurring in that time frame may be very advanced by the time it’s discovered.

Commercial Water Damage Service

Water damage in a commercial building can mean a substantial reduction of revenue as well as lost customers. Professional service to restore normal operations must take into account the unique requirements of a business, including:

  • Rapid response—24/7/365—to return all company functions and services to normal operation, ASAP.
  • Site security while water damage recovery services are underway.
  • Techniques to isolate water-damaged areas of the building from unaffected areas in order to keep as much of the company operational as possible.
  • Attention to preventing ancillary issues such as excessively high indoor humidity that damages business paperwork and documents.
  • Mold prevention and decontamination procedures to meet EPA and OSHA requirements. 

Rytech’s Residential Water Damage Service

Tuesday, June 1st, 2021

Statistics show that residential water damage service of some type is required by about 14,000 homeowners every day. According to the Insurance Information Institute, water damage constitutes about 24% of all homeowner’s insurance claims and the average water damage claim is now around $10,900. The most common incidents that require professional water damage service include:

  • Leaking or ruptured plumbing pipes
  • Appliance defects or malfunctions such as a burst water heater or broken washing machine hoses
  • Roof leaks
  • Storms that include localized flooding
  • Sewage backups

First Things First

Because time is an important factor in minimizing the extent of damage, certain steps should be taken immediately if the need arises:

  • Turn off the water supply to the house at the main valve. If you don’t know its location or how to operate the valve, ask a plumber.
  • Stay out of rooms where water may have contacted electrical outlets or components.
  • Contact professional residential water damage service providers as well as your homeowner’s insurance agent.

Stages of Residential Water Damage Service

While any particular incident may impose slight variations, the typical sequence of water damage recovery can be broadly expressed in six stages:

  • Stage 1 – Emergency response. Reputable water damage recovery professionals are prepared to respond 24/7/365.
  • Stage 2 – Inspection. Room by room inspection to assess the type and extent of water damage.
  • Stage 3 – Water removal. A rapid removal of standing water from the structure using powerful extractors and pumps.
  • Stage 4 – Drying and humidity reduction. Residual moisture must be identified and dried utilizing air movers and professional dehumidifiers.  
  • Stage 5 – Cleaning and sanitization. Surfaces that were wet should be sanitized with antimicrobial solutions to prevent mold contamination.  
  • Stage 6 – Restoration. Removing and replacing damaged building materials—drywall, subflooring, ceiling materials, insulation, etc.—that were saturated by water and cannot be effectively dried. Electrical circuits may also require replacement. 

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.

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.