Water Damage: What Is Restorable?

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.

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