Dealing with a water damage emergency is stressful! And what makes it even more stressful is that time is of the essence. Water is one of the strongest elements that has the power to destroy your home in moments. This is why a water-related emergency should be dealt with immediately as soon as it is discovered. The longer you wait to act, the more extensive the damage will likely be.
This is precisely why we have put together this article on the 5 Steps to Successfully Handle a Water Damage Emergency. We’re going to take you through what should be done first and foremost and how to deal with the situation safely and effectively.
There is a multitude of things that constitute a water damage emergency, with the most common being a burst water tank or burst pipes. If this is the case for you, and you can clearly see that a pipe or tank has burst and is no longer whole, there’s no way to patch this up. Therefore, you need to stop the water at the source. This is why it is critical that you and every able-bodied individual in the house know where the water main shut off is and how to turn it off. These are usually outdoors on the property beneath the ground.
Another major cause of water damage is storm or flood weather. Unfortunately, Mother Nature is a bit harder to control, and there is no magic shut-off point for wet weather. However, there are some things you can do to lessen the damage. For example, let’s say water has burst through your basement windows and is flowing in. Or even if you notice that large amounts of water are gathering here, adding pressure on the glass and infrastructure, you can use materials outside to divert the flow of water away from your house and ideally down to the street and drainage system. This may not be possible in all situations, and if the flow of water is strong, your safety should be your first priority.
This brings us to our next point…
Getting in there and attempting to start “fixing” the problem can be tempting. But before you dive in, you need to ensure that you and the rest of your family are physically safe. If we return to our example above about re-directing the flow of stormwater away from your house, this can be hugely beneficial- but it’s not worth your life if the conditions are unsafe. Ideally, if you are anticipating a storm or potential flood weather, this is a step you can implement before the storm strikes and the winds and water get too intense.
Let’s look at another example. Let’s say you return home from work to find your hot water tank has burst, your basement wall has fallen to pieces due to the wet materials, and the floor is knee-deep in water. Your instinct may be to get in there and see if you can identify the water source and turn it off. Before you do this, stop and think about your safety. If the wall has fallen to pieces, who knows what may be lingering in the water, live wires, sharp building materials, and electrical appliances. Before you (or anyone) enter this space, the electricity and water must be shut off at the main source.
We also advise wearing protective gear such as gloves, hard-soled covered shoes, a mask, protective eyewear, and coveralls.
If the water-damaged area is now safe to enter, you can get in there and prevent some of the affected materials from further damage. Water spreads fast and is absorbed by practically any material it comes in contact with. So, while it is upsetting and frustrating to see your walls, floors, furniture, and curtains all water-logged and damaged, these things will most likely be covered by your insurance and therefore are replaceable. But, it’s the personal items that carry sentimental value and special memories that are not easily replaceable.
So, how do we protect all of this? Suppose it’s possible to move your furniture to another area (only if it’s not entirely submerged in water). In that case, you should do so or place it on wooden blocks and aluminum foil to prevent it from soaking up further water. Remember that most things will be considerably heavier than usual due to the water they have absorbed. If you have art or photographs hanging on the walls, these should be immediately moved to another room to be laid flat and start drying out. Even if they didn’t come in direct contact with the water, the air still has elevated moisture levels, and mold spores may settle there.
Pro tip: If you have soaked stacks of photographs or documents, put them in zip-lock bags and place them inside the freezer to deal with later.
The moment a water damage emergency happens, it’s time to put your insurance hat on! While your first priority should be stopping the flow of water pouring into your house and your personal safety, it’s around now that you should start thinking about your insurance payout path.
Before you move all furniture and personal items from the affected area, take a few quick photos and videos of the affected space. Then you can dive right into moving and protecting your personal items. Now is the time to call the professionals, both your insurance company and your team of local restoration water damage experts.
The residential water damage restoration process isn’t an overnight fix. Depending on the extent of the damage, it could easily take weeks of drying, cleaning, sanitizing, and repairing to get your home back into shape. Your insurance company will want to see evidence of your restoration water damage experts at work and the work they have completed in your home, so make sure you document the entire process with photographs, videos, invoices, and receipts.
You may be tempted to DIY some of your water damage restoration. But trust us, it simply isn’t worth it – unless it’s a teeny-tiny leak that merely requires a tightened washer. And if you don’t even know what a washer is (no, it’s not the big square thing you clean your clothes in), then entrusting a team of restoration water damage experts to handle your water damage cleanup and restoration is a must!
Residential water damage restoration often requires industrial-strength dryers, air movers, and expert knowledge. A water damage restoration team will also likely be able to recommend a plumber or landscaper if needed.
Dealing with a water damage emergency? Reach out to us here to dispatch a local team of restoration operators!
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Amazing job. Our basement flooded twice
and the did outstanding work drying it out
quickly. Very responsive and were very easy
to work with.
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