You were just relaxing at home when all of a sudden, there was a loud clunk and then a rushing sound as water began to pour into your basement. Maybe the rains came and didn’t stop for so long that the ground became saturated and water seeped into your living room. It could have been an unnoticed leak behind the walls, or even improperly sealed doors. But whatever the cause of unwanted moisture in your home, the result is the same – water damage that destroys property and creates a breeding ground for all sorts of nasty stuff.
When this happens, we feel panic because the water needs to be stopped and removed as quickly as possible to minimize the damage. The longer it sits around – or worse, continues to flow – the more significant the health hazards.
We know it’s an insane time, but we’re here to help guide you through the process, from important first steps to finding and engaging excellent water damage restoration services. Take a deep breath, center yourself, and then get started. The following steps will prepare you to safely address water damage in your home.
Stop or contain the flow of water if possible
If the cause is a burst pipe, locate the main water valve and turn it off. This is also helpful if you have a leaky pipe that is merely dripping, but if it is in an accessible area, you can choose to catch the drops in a bucket rather than cut off water to the entire home. If you’ve had a flood, discover where most of the water is entering and try to divert the flow with strategically placed sandbags.
Turn off electricity
When you have standing water, it can be a good safety precaution to cut power to the affected areas of the home. Before you step into any standing water, check to see if electricity is flowing through it by lightly grazing the water with the back of your hand. If you feel any tingling at all, evacuate the home and call for emergency services. You may also want to have an electrician come to check out the system before turning the power back on.
Call a reputable water damage restoration company
The best companies are ones that are available 24/7 to assess the damage, quote a price for necessary services, and schedule the work to be done quickly. If there has been flooding in the area, the most reliable providers will get booked up fast, so get on their schedule as soon as possible. Also beware of companies that spring up overnight after natural disasters; they are likely not prepared or qualified to perform the work.
Deal with the standing water
Bailing out standing water and overseeing the drying process is part of the package that your water damage restoration company will offer you. If you want to get started right away, you can begin removing standing water with a wet/dry vacuum or with buckets. However, flood waters are often contaminated with dangerous germs and the collected water needs to be dumped carefully so that it doesn’t flow back into your home. For these reasons, it may be best to wait for the professionals. If you do decide to begin the work yourself, be sure to wear protective gear.
Increase the ventilation
Good air flow is critical for drying out a home that has been flooded. If it’s not raining, open the windows to release moisture as it evaporates. If you still have power, run multiple fans as well as a dehumidifier. The more air you can move through the area, the faster it will dry. Don’t worry about this too much if you don’t have power – your water damage experts will have a plan for ventilation.
Remove wet possessions
It is likely that certain possessions will be destroyed by the water, especially things made of paper. If you have important files that got wet, each page should be laid out separately to dry. Though they will be warped and wrinkled, you may still be able to read the information. Books should be thrown away as water can remain trapped in the bindings and easily grow mold.
Items made of metal dry quickly but may later rust around joints, and wooden items will have to be assessed after drying to determine if they are still structurally sound. Cloth that can be washed and dried, either on a line or in the dryer, should be safe to keep.
Relax and wait for help
The days or possibly weeks ahead will be stressful, especially if you have to vacate your home during repairs. Even if you can stay home, water damage restoration can be disruptive to your routine. Once you have done all you can to salvage as many possessions as possible, take some time to rest and recuperate. Take the family out for a comforting meal or snuggle together in one room to read. If you’ve had to leave home, enjoy the amenities offered by your hotel. Family bonding is one bright side to a disaster situation.
If you have experienced water damage, you know it is a serious hassle to manage. There will be time, money, and possessions lost in the effort to recover. Just try not to panic as that can freeze you in your tracks when time is of the essence. It’s also really important that you do engage a water damage restoration firm to make your home safe again. Dangerous mold grows easily in areas that have been flooded, and certain structures including support beams and drywall can become unsound. The whole situation stinks, but rest assured that there are qualified professionals in your area that can help make your house a home again.