10 Water Damage Safety Tips

Water damage can happen at any time to any home. While homeowners may take many different precautions to prevent water damage or intrusion, water damage is always at the back of you mind. While we cannot promise to prevent water damage from happening, we at Action Extraction have 10 water damage restoration tips you can use in the event of a water damage problem in your home.

1. Conduct a Safety Assessment

When experiencing water damage, it is always important to decide whether or not your flood situation is safe for you and your family. Let us review some ways in which we can assure a safe environment.

Decide if the environment is safe to enter. Check your surroundings for mold or contaminate growth. Those environments may not be safe for those with respiratory ailments or the elderly and infirm. If you notice growth of any kind, always wear the appropriate mask and filter.

Check ceilings for sagging if the flood is happening from overhead. Water weighs 8 pounds per gallon and can easily compromise drywall to the point of collapse causing massive to anything underneath.

Flooded basements over 8 inches are at risk of touching electrical connections and your flooded basement could be a tragedy waiting to happen. All flooded basements should be tested to electrical conduction when they are at or above this depth. Many water restoration technicians are hurt every year due to electrical problems that are easily avoidable.

Even basements with as little as an inch of water are a safety hazard if electrical cords are under water. It is recommended to never enter a flooded basement prior to having it checked for electrical current. This can easily be done by any handyman or electrician who will utilize an instrument that will indicate precise measurements allowing you to know it is safe or not.

If it is not safe and your electrical box is located in the basement the electricity can be disabled from outside the home allowing for restoration to begin.

All wet electronics should be tested by an electrician for safety. You should never repair electrical that has been exposed to water and should always replace those items. Insurance companies will almost always cover an electrical evaluation by a licensed electrician.

2. Be Skeptical of Advice from Self-Appointed Experts

You wouldn’t ask a butcher for a second opinion on a medical procedure, so why ask a handyman for water damage advice when a certified water restoration company is available and happy to help. While a handy man may know enough of the lingo and general idea of water restoration, it takes a crew of highly trained and experienced water technicians to take care of your water problem the right way.

While the old adage, “if it’s on the internet it must be true,” may be a silly phrase baked in sarcasm, many frantic homeowners often turn to the internet to find answers to their water damage questions to discover not all experts are created equal. The most common problem when it comes to DIY water damage restoration tips is that they will often lead to mold growth.

Mold must always be removed. Full stop. No, there is not a fool proof product that removes mold and keeps it gone. Mixing baking soda and vinegar with a dash of tea tree oil will not resolved the mold issue under your sink. Bleach will not remove mold either, often times doing the exact opposite of the intended result and encouraging further mold growth.

Many DIY web blogs will also skip important steps and make claims about what can and cannot be dried while ignoring not only psychometric science but bacterial science and mycology. When appropriate you should always use a certified water damage restoration company which brings me to my next point.

3. Water Volume Should Decide if You Can DIY

Some water damage projects can be done from home without the assistance of a water restoration team, but how do we know when it’s appropriate to handle these jobs on our own? The amount of water should be your guide on most, but not all, water damage projects.

Water damage that is contained, small and may only need water removal from carpet, can be often managed with a shop vac and small commitment of time. When there is solid flooring such as cement or ceramic over cement, can typically be extracted and left to dry with a fan under most circumstances. Any water that has reached or rests against a wall made of panel or drywall will require assistance from a water damage restoration team as well as any sewer water damage of any severity.

Significant flooding will not go away on its own no matter how hard you work. Many of our customers only call us after spending entire nights with a shop vacuum trying to remove water from their homes. Despite their valiant efforts, water trapped in building material and flooring will not dry for weeks without direct and strategic intervention by qualified water damage experts.

Its easier to read some of the on line water damage restoration tips then it is to perform their advice. Removing the water with a shop vac for hours without making progress will discourage most into considering a professional. They soon realize that more damage is being done by the stagnate water.

It only takes a matter of a few short hours of waters presence to create irreversible and catastrophic damage to your homes building materials as well as the air quality of the property that can threaten the health of its occupants.

All water damage jobs are entitled to a free in-home estimate by a qualified water damage expert. We will be able to quickly inform you of whether or not you would be better off handling your water damage loss yourself or if hiring water damage experts is the best course of action.

4. Be Cautious of Any Restoration Firm Referred by Your Insurance Company

So, your home has flooded, and you’ve decided it is just too much for you to handle. Several water damage restoration steps you read about on line, just don’t sit well with you and you realize this is why people have homeowners insurance.

You call up your agent and they differ you to the claims department. After explaining to the nice insurance representative, the situation in which you find yourself they tell you not to worry and that a team is headed your way to take all your blues away. Stop. Stop right now. You should know before calling that you are entitled to use any company you choose in regard to your insurance loss. At no point may the insurance company dictate to you who you may or may not use.

If you do decide to go with the company that the insurance company has provided for you, make sure that company is willing to be an advocate for you. While most companies may fight for your business and intend to do the best job, they can possibly do to win your endorsement, a company sent to you by your insurance company may have other motives in mind. Considering you did not find them or even call them in most cases, they will be more focused on the will and whims of the insurance company that created this opportunity of work for them.

The easiest way to asses whether or not your water restoration team is going to be on your side or not is to research the company online. Which brings us to our next point.

5. Never Hire a Company Without Checking Their Online Reviews

Hiring now has never been easier. While waiting for an updated yellow pages and asking your neighbor who they used for their new roof may have been the way things where done in the past, these days we can go online and see who all of our neighbors used for any project and what they thought of their work. While any company can do a great job once, it’s important to find out if that company is doing a great job consistently.

How many times has it happened to you? You hire the painter that your dad promised was “the best in the business” only to come home to lines across the ceilings and globs of paint ground into the carpet. While your friends and family may rain praise and adoration over a particular contractor, it’s important to know before you sign on the dotted line whether your families experience is the exception or the rule.

This is especially true when the company in question is making promises that seem too good to be true. Are they promising a 3-day dry out no matter what? Have they told you they will cover your high deductible 100 percent?  Has your adjuster given you the name of a “great” contractor they have known “forever?” These promises are often made by contractors who just are not up to snuff when it comes to actual flood work.

The best companies will always rise to the top of the review list. It is much more difficult to maintain a 5-star rating than it is to do anything else in business. You have to consistently perform at the top of your industry which is why it is important to only use highly rated, 5-star companies for your water damage needs. Your health and the health of your family and home should never be left to any company not able to meet that standard of care and expertise.

6. Make Sure the Water Restoration Company is Certified and Insured.

All water restoration companies should be certified through a 3rd party certification company. All Action Extraction water technicians are certified through the IICRC also known as The Clean Trust. These companies require strict testing and continuing education guidelines to ensure all water restoration technicians are up to date with the latest technologies and where the world of water damage restoration is headed.

All water restoration companies, and any company doing work in your home for any reason for that matter, should be insured against property and physical damage. Making sure the company you hire is properly insured and certified in the work they are performing will give you piece of mind that not only is the work you are having performed being done correctly, but also that the safety of the workers in your home will not burden you financially in the case of an accident.

If you suspect that the company you have hired to help you handle your water damage restoration project may not have those requirements, you should always ask to see documentation of insurance and certification before the start of any work in your home. Any certified and insured company will be able to produce these documents for your review quickly. This may be the easiest way to identify fraudulent companies and those that will not be able to handle your water damage project with the expertise and experience needed.

7. Remove All Standing Water

We have conducted our safety assessment and shown the basement to be safe to enter. We have ignored the online DIY section and decided that professional help is necessary. The insurance company tried to send over a restoration company but after reading their awful reviews you’ve informed your insurance company that you’ll be using the highly rate, 5-star restoration company Action Extraction to handle your water loss. We already sent over proof of our insurance and all of our certification and have assessed the damage to your home. After signing a work authorization and all the proper documentation we are ready to start work. Now what?

After protecting the flooring with drop clothes and plastic, if necessary, we would begin to bring hoses into your home that are connected to a truck mounted extraction system. This system would pull all the standing water through a cleaning wand, much in the same way a carpet cleaner removes excess water from a carpet during a steam clean.

Some flooding projects have too much water to begin with just a standard extraction wand. In these scenarios we would typically use a submersible pump to begin to rapidly remove water from your home. While getting water out of your home quickly is the name of the game, removing water too quickly can cause structural damage to your foundation which is why it is very important that you use a knowledgeable and certified water restoration company for any significant water damage problem.

While most companies will have either their own extraction equipment or hire out a separate extraction company, all significant water projects should start with this step. Removing standing water is the first and most important step to make sure that your building materials and personal items experience the least amount of water damage possible.

Most water restoration companies will use a truck mounted machine with either a wand extractor or what is called a claw extractor. While both tools will get the job done efficiently, claw extraction tools will ultimately remove more water than their wand counterpart. On the other hand, wand extractors make quick work of flooded homes and saturated carpets and allow flood technicians to focus on other building materials quicker. While one tool may not be better than the other, any reputable water damage restoration company should use at least one, or both, of these tools to remove standing water in your home.

The importance of removing standing water is not just in making progress from one restoration step to another. Think of is this way. Which would evaporate faster, a lake or a puddle? A puddle or a spill? A spill or a mist? The process of turning your water loss into a dry and healthy environment often begins as a lake of uninvited water. The act of extraction can remove a great portion of that water and turn your water loss from a lake, to a spill in a matter of hours instead of weeks.

Standing water can also create secondary damage within your home by increasing the relative humidity. When relative humidity increases the dew points, or the temperature are which building materials condensate, will lower. That means copper plumbing lines and drywall can all start to become saturated just by the moisture content in the air. Removing standing water and regulating humidity levels can prevent this from ever happening in your home.

8. Remove All Damaged Items

Once all of the standing water has been removed from your home, it is now time to do an assessment on all of your personal items and building materials. What may stay and what must go is always dependent on the category of water you are currently dealing with and the consistency of the material at hand. Cardboard for example must always be discarded regardless of the category of water. Let us review the categories of water and what may or may not be saved in each one.

Category 1 floods are called freshwater floods. These water losses are typically result of burst plumbing or water heating tanks. When it comes to damage items, most items can be restored to their old selves through proper water mitigation processes. Items like press board and cardboard are unfortunately likely to be damaged beyond repair but almost all breathable items will be perfectly fine once completely dried.

Category 2 flood water consists of Storm or ground water. This water is considered living water due to a robust nature of the bacteria, mold and fungi spores and water borne life forms. Like freshwater water losses, most breathable items will be able to be saved, however; materials damaged by ground water must be able to be cleaned with an anti-microbial to be deemed mitigated and safe. Items like carpet padding, for example, must be removed from the home and discarded as there is not a proper way to dry and clean padding. Carpeting, on the other hand, can often be dried in place and cleaned using hot water extraction and an anti-microbial agent.

Category 3 flood water consists of sewage water or highly contaminated water that has advanced beyond mitigation hopes. All absorbent materials, in this case, must be removed from the home and discarded regardless of outside appearance. Items like glass, plastic and some metals may be saved and cleaned with and anti-microbial agent so long as they are solid and are free from pockets that could trap moisture.

9. Sanitize All Surfaces

Once all the standing water has been removed, all building materials have been assessed and all damaged building materials have been removed from the home, it’s time to begin cleaning your home. Using an anti-microbial agent, all surfaces in your home should be cleaned from top to bottom to make sure no transfer of contaminated material can happen. The strictness of this protocol is dependent on the category of water loss as well as the health of the home and your family.

In the event of a category 3 water damage project, all solid surfaces should be steam cleaned using a high-pressure hot water extraction system in coordination with an anti-microbial agent. This will make sure that any bacterium hiding in the pores of your cement foundation are lifted and removed from your home. If your category 3 loss has occurred in an area where wood is present, encapsulating primers should be used to trap contaminated water and prevent it from off gassing harmful toxins into your home.

Any personal items that have come into contact with invasive water should be thoroughly wiped down with an anti-microbial cleaning agent to make sure that any future contact with that item will not endanger your family.

10. Dry All Wet Materials

With all of the water removed and your personal items attended to, it’s now time to dry your home as quickly and safely as possible to get you ready to put it all back together. Let us talk about how we do that and what to expect when experiencing a flood loss.

By now, most if not all your base moldings have been removed from your walls. In some areas you may have 1 inch in diameter holes punched 3 inches up along the base of the wall to encourage air flow and drying within the cavities of the wall. In each corner of your home there is likely a fan places against the wall. These fans will be pointed towards one another creating a cyclone effect within your home.

Interrupting this cyclone at varying intervals you will find a dehumidifier or two. Dehumidifiers are like the heart of your flood loss, while the fans become the veins. As air passes over your dehumidifier, that air is sucked in, dried and recycled back into the cyclone as thirsty dry air ready to grab up as much moisture from the building material it is racing past as possible. As it returns to the dehumidifier, bloated with moisture from its trip around your saturated home, the process is repeated until finally no access moisture is to be found.

When this happens, your home will be dry. Action Extraction will confirm this using high powered meters and tools and will remove all that noisy equipment from your home. Congratulations. Your home is finally dry and you are ready for repairs.