Handling a water damage emergency: 6 steps to take immediately

Home maintenance and repair require a great deal of time and investment. Apart from regular maintenance, damage to your property in emergencies can demand costly and immediate action. One of the most serious emergencies a homeowner can face is flooding and water damage. Statistics in the United States reveal that the cost of water and mold damage to property compounds to around 2.5 billion dollars annually for the insurance industry. For example, ruptured pipes, sewer backups, damaged appliances, and natural disasters may cause leaks or flooding. If water enters your home, it can cause significant damage to the walls, plaster, wooden furniture, flooring, electrical connections, appliances, and personal belongings. Depending on the amount of water that infiltrated and the source of the damage, restoration costs vary. In any case, immediate action is the key to avoiding additional costs. If you face an unfortunate water emergency, take the following measures as soon as possible.

Step 1: Identify and stop the source of water

Water damage can be something as serious as a leaking ceiling, but sometimes, the damage may only be apparent in peeling paint on walls, visible stains, or musty odors. When you notice water damage, identify its source. It is often a break in the water pipelines or a burst of the hot water tank. Alternatively, there might be external sources like a heavy storm; in the United States. Heavy storm damage costs a total of 38,000 dollars. How you stop the water seepage depends on the source of infiltration. If stormwater enters through openings in windows and doors, seal them off. You can learn more about storm damage and repair tips from the Water Damage Advisor resource hub.

Step 2: Address personal safety

The first thing to address is your safety and that of your family. When water infiltrates the walls, the biggest risk is electrocution. Immediately shut off the electricity supply to the house by turning off the main power and disconnecting the electrical appliances.

With that out of the way, wear protective gear, including rubber boots and gloves, before you re-enter the property. However, if there is still a risk of flooding or the walls are unstable or cracked, steer clear of the vicinity. Also, if the infiltration is by contaminated water – by sewage backup, for instance – it is better to call in the professionals than to attempt addressing it yourself.

Step 3: Save precious personal belongings

If the floor is flooding, immediately raise the furniture and rugs. If the furniture has soaked up water, move them out of the house and preferably into the sunlight to dry. Water-soaked items will quickly develop mold and get ruined. If the floor is carpeted, the furniture can cause permanent stains or marks from rust. If you aren’t sure about removing the furniture from the house, place aluminum foil underneath furniture legs. Any electronic appliances also need to be removed from the water-laden areas.

Step 4: contact the insurance company

Most insurance policies also include water damage. This applies to accidental and sudden damage that doesn’t result from the owner’s negligence. With most insurance companies, plumbing failures and burst pipes are common causes eligible for insurance. The Insurance Information Institute reveals that among the reasons for insurance claims between 2014 and 2018, water was the third major cause.

Contact the insurance company as soon as possible. Call in a claim adjuster to judge the damage and document the potential recovery costs. Also, maintain a record of the damage done by the water.

Step 5: Clean out standing water

If you can enter your home safely, begin by clearing out any standing water. If the standing water is less, you can use a wet-dry vacuum cleaner to clean the floor. Dry the walls with a towel. For more than a foot deep water, it is best to call in the professionals. They have the specialized equipment, including water pumps needed to clean this. If allowed to stay, the water will cause greater property damage with time, especially to the flooring.

Step 6: Dry out the property

Removing standing water doesn’t solve the entire problem. Proceed with the drying process by opening windows and doors and turning on the fans, air conditioners, and dehumidifiers. Depending on the amount of water, type of surface, and water saturation, the drying time will vary. If you call in the professionals, the restoration company will monitor the moisture content at regular intervals. Until the property is completely dry, the risk of mold will persist.

In the long run, mold growth can cause coughing, sneezing, skin irritation, eye allergies, and more severe asthma problems.

Final words

Water damage emergencies are a serious cause of concern for homeowners. Regardless of good maintenance, such a calamity can befall anyone. If such an unfortunate incident happens, make sure you follow all the steps above. If you couldn’t avoid such an emergency, immediate action can surely keep the extent of damage under control. 

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