Water Damage: What to Do Before Help Arrives

water damage

Water damage waits for no one. Once the initiating event occurs, a fast-moving timeline is triggered. Water is naturally invasive and spreads rapidly inside structures. When coming face-to-face with a water damage incident in your house, it’s important to take a deep breath, and then do what needs to be done. Here are some important steps in the sequence.

  • Shut off the source. If the water originates from a broken pipe, ruptured water heater or other common plumbing-related cause, turn off water to the house at the main shutoff valve. Be prepared by knowing in advance the location of the shutoff valve. Test it twice a year to confirm that it turns easily. Contact a plumber if it doesn’t.
  • Be careful. Turn off electricity to affected parts of the house at the main electrical panel if it’s in a dry area and safe to access. If you can’t, call an electrician before entering saturated rooms or stepping into pooling water or danger zones like a flooded basement.
  • Make important calls. Two contacts should be made immediately: your homeowner’s insurance provider and a certified water damage remediation company. If you’re unable to immediately reach the insurance company, most insurers realize that the time-critical nature of these incidents requires fast response by professionals and advise summoning qualified water damage experts before contacting the company.
  • Avoid any contact with raw sewage that may be present in a sewage backup incident. Leave it to professionals.
  • Where possible, manually move standing water out of the house. Open exterior doors and use push brooms or floor squeegees to push pooling water outside. Mop up water or blot it up with towels or other absorbent materials.
  • Remove soaked rugs, saturated padded furniture, wet mattresses and other large absorbent materials from the house.
  • Move important papers, photos, paintings, etc, out of wet rooms and into dry rooms furthest from the water to prevent secondary damage due to water vapor.
  • Open windows and run fans to establish cross-ventilation and exhaust damaging high humidity. If it’s operational, run the HVAC system fan continuously to keep air circulating.

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