Most water leaks in your home won't cause this much flooding. Trust me, you never want to deal with this situation. As I'm living through a flooded house right now, I can definitely say it's not fun. But there's a lot we can learn by understanding the water damage repair steps you go through to recover from this type of emergency.
Why do we need fancy words to communicate simple actions? Are big fancy words meant to stop us from understanding repairs? For me it's just another challenge and opportunity to educate homeowners on how to proactively manage all aspects of home ownership, including dealing with a flooded house (my flooded house below).
Water Damage Repair #1 – Stop the Leak
Fortunately most leaks inside your house are easy to stop by shutting off the source of the leak. If you don't know how to shut the water off under your sinks and toilets, it's time to learn how. And you absolutely need to know how to shut off the water supply to your house for water leaks you can't reach like the plumbing for bathtubs and showers. My flooded house is in Florida, so I was able to walk my neighbor over to the house and have him shut the water off … outside.
Fancy Words to Deal with Water Damage Repairs
There's one simple reason why you need to understand the terminology used to talk about water damage repairs. When your house has serious water damaged, you'll need to find companies that provide these services. Even more challenging is learning what each term means as even these companies use the words to mean different things.
Here are the definitions I found online for water damage repair terms:
- Water damage is defined by Wikipedia, as “losses caused by water intruding where it enables attack of materials by destructive processes like rotting of wood, growth, rusting of steel and de-laminating materials such as plywood”.
- Water mitigation refers to the process of preventing or reversing damage caused by water in a building. Reversing water damage can mean water removal and/or the whole water cleaning process.
- Water damage remediation means treating or reversing the damage caused by unwanted water accumulation. In covers the process of drying, cleaning, sanitizing and repairing any structural damage caused by water.
- Water damage restoration includes the complete process of water cleanup from the removal of water, drying items and structures, and moving restored items back.
Working my way through this confusing terminology for water damage repairs, here's a more logical way to break definitions down so they don't overlap.
Water Damage Repair #2 – Water Mitigation
The focus of water mitigation companies is to prevent further water damage to your house and personal belongings. These companies respond to requests around the clock, seven days a week. My water mitigation company said their commitment is to arrive on site within 4 hours of a request … and they met this goal.
First they got most of the standing water out of the house … with this oversized squeegee.
The water mitigation process involves using specialized equipment and techniques to minimize the damage. Beware that if they don't do everything possible to speed up the drying process, your electric bill will go through the roof. Your chances of ending up with mold damage will also increase.
- Extract (fancy work for removing) water.
- Dry the home with commercial-grade equipment.
- Remove building materials like cabinet toe kicks and baseboard to speed up the drying process.
- Ensure the home's structural stability for worker safety.
- Protect the integrity of the home by boarding up windows, applying tarps, etc.
Water damage mitigation services aren't designed to repair or replace damaged property. The goal is to prevent further damage with a temporary solution. This will give you the time to find companies to perform the remaining steps to bring your home back to pre-flood conditions.
Water Damage Repair #3 – Water Remediation
Once the house is dried out, it's time to start cleaning. You might want to do this yourself and that makes sense for minor water damage. If you had lots of water for an extended period of time, it's time to consider hiring a company that specializes in water remediation. Here's what they do:
- Work with a mold testing company to identify mold risk and recommended protocols.
- Remove and dispose of damaged building materials like doors, drywall, baseboard and flooring.
- Remove and dispose of damaged furniture that likely includes everything built with MDF (think IKEA).
- Clean and disinfect building materials that can be salvaged.
- Clean, disinfect, pack out and store salvageable personal property to facilitate other activities.
Cleaning up after a flood involves many hours of tedious and often dangerous work. If you're unable to hire professionals to help, here's a brochure from the Centers for Disease Control, that outlines the steps involved and how to work safely.
Water Damage Repair #4 – Water Restoration
Once your home is clean, it's time to take the necessary steps to recover from all damage. You can hire a general contractor or remodeler to handle the job from start to finish. Alternatively, you can save money by acting as the general contractor. Unfortunately lender's want to control this process and issue checks directly to licensed contractors (another article to be written on this topic).
The restoration of a house depends on the extent of the water damage. Typical water damage restoration services include the following:
- Replacing damaged drywall and painting.
- Replacing flooring and baseboard.
- Replacing doors and door jambs.
- Replacing cabinets in the kitchen and/or bathrooms.
- Repairing roof, window and/or siding damage involved in the water leak.
The main purpose of water damage restoration is to return the home to pre-loss conditions. Repairs start after water leaks have been identified and resolved, and building damage corrected. It's a long process full of frustration for homeowners who don't understand why things take so long.