Water damage is one of the most expensive, catastrophic situations that you may experience as a homeowner. If this occurs, you’ll need water mitigation. With water mitigation, the purpose is to remove all moisture and make sure your home is safe and structurally sound. Make sure you hire a professional that you’ve thoroughly vetted, as your family’s health and safety as well as your property value are at risk otherwise.
Water damage refers to the different types of losses that could occur in a home due to water intrusion. It is the third most common reason for insurance claims by homeowners. As rampant as it may seem, 90% of these cases are preventable. Most of these damages are as a result of floods, leakage from a pipe, and quickly melting ice.
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Categories of Water Damage
Category 1-this is also known as clean water, and it poses no threat to humans or animals upon consumption. However, it might get contaminated after it comes in contact with other materials. Sources of this kind of water are broken water lines and overflowing sinks.
Category 2- Commonly referred to as Grey Water, this water may contain some significant amount of microorganisms, organic matter, or non-organic matter. Thus it unsafe for human and animal consumption. Some sources of grey water are; water from toilets, washing machines, and sump pump failures.
Category 3- This category of water is also known as Black Water. It is highly contaminated and may cause severe illness or death upon human or animal consumption. Such water may contain heavy metals, pesticides, and other toxic substances. Sources of black water include; seawater, rising water from rivers or streams, ground surface water, or standing water.
Causes and Prevention
Several factors can lead to water pooling in areas where it shouldn’t; some of these causes include:
- Faults in plumbing systems are the hardest to detect as they are within walls. Thus, at least once every year, an inspection of the plumbing system using pressure gauge at the meter to detect leakages is highly recommended.
- Faulty household appliances could lead to catastrophic damages if left unattended. Washing machines, refrigerators, and hot water tanks are the common appliances that cause such accidents. A defective washing machine hose pipe can leak up to 600 gallons of water an hour. Replacing the washing machine supply hose, avoiding overloading the machine and replacing the hot water tank every ten years is therefore very important.
- A sewage backup is a nightmare and one of the worst things that could happen to a homeowner. It occurs when there is an obstruction in the sewer pipe connecting to the main municipal sewer line, consequently causing a backup. Blockage in the pipes is a result of clogged oil, plastics, and other materials that should not be in the sewer line.
- Adverse weather conditions such as rainstorms and snow can damage your roof, ceiling, and walls. Ensuring that a home is ready for such weather conditions is essential. These precautionary measures include; cleaning the rain gutters and downspouts. Checking for ice dams that form in the middle of a roof because of heat coming from a house is essential as water refreezes near the edges creating a barrier that hinders melting snow from draining off the roof. Regularly having a roof inspection by a professional and insulating the attic to prevent heat from reaching the roof can solve this problem.
- Burst pipes cause water leakage into the walls. It is one of the most common problems homeowners face. Pipes burst due to unregulated water pressure, temperatures, or deterioration due to old age. To prevent pipes from leaking, regular inspection, and insulating pipes to prevent freezing during winter is recommended.
The most common consequence is mold and fungal growth. It not only makes property produce a bad odor, but it is a health hazard. Molds and fungus produce spores that float in the air, and when inhaled, they cause allergies, difficulty in breathing, coughing, and sneezing. For children growing in a home with molds, they risk developing asthma.
The structural integrity of a house is compromised when water leaks to the load-bearing structures. Once the water seeps into the metal structure, the metal starts to corrode and rust, consequently lowering the bearing strength of the structural members. Incase water flows into the foundation; the soil expands, causing differential settlement. Leaning windows and door frames that sometimes won’t open are the signs of a structurally compromised home.
Last but not least is the damages to appliances and furniture. Some furniture is susceptible to water and turns white when in contact with water. Most electric devices, such as a television, will malfunction immediately when in contact with water.
Definition: It refers to measures taken after damages caused by water to prevent further destruction of properties. Most people hire professional experts. It is a step necessary due to the reasons stated below:
1. It cuts on costs and damages. As a homeowner, once the destruction of properties has occurred, the next step is to prevent further distress thereby saving on costs and less effort is required to restore the property
2. The professional experts offer advice and inspect every appliance and remove all the mold and fungus.
3. The Property Owner’s Insurance Policy has a clause that places the property owner responsible for secondary damages. Therefore, the insurance does not pay for secondary costs.
4. It ensures safe mold removal. Most of the mold is toxic, and if not removed and dried, it grows further. The mold releases spores in the air, which could lead to fatal breathing problems and asthma in children.
Consequences of Leaving Property Untreated
When the damage is left untreated, the apparent consequence will be the excessive growth of fungus and mold, consequently posing severe health risks not only to the occupants but to the environment as well. Additionally, the water seeps into the foundation of the house, thereby compromising the structural integrity of the home. Once the structural integrity is compromised, the property becomes uninhabitable. Last but not least, there is excessive damage in the house, which is very expensive to restore and most sometimes beyond repair.
The Water Mitigation Process:
This process has four significant steps
Extraction involves blocking further expansion of water and the removal of excess water by wet-dry vacuum units or gas-powered submersible pumps. The use of electric pumps is highly discouraged as there could be power leakage. Windows and doors are opened to allow for ventilation. An ordinary vacuum cleaner might not work efficiently in this situation.
Once the excess water is out, the drying process starts. All the wet materials are removed to fasten drying. High-velocity fans and humidifiers are required in this process to wipe wet surfaces. They are moved around every hour to ensure the whole house is dry. This process takes a few days.
It involves cleaning and disinfection of the property. This part of the process is the most time-consuming as every item and appliance has to undergo repair.
This part of the process consists of repairing the damaged property and restoring them to the original state. In some cases, the damaged items are beyond repair; hence, they require replacing.
Should you require water mitigation as a result of a hurricane, there are steps that you need to know.
The First Five Things to Do When You Suffer Hurricane Flood Damage
Hurricanes and other tropical storms have ravaged the Gulf Coast and East Coast of the United States over the last few decades. Each one seems to be a bit worse than the last, leaving homeowners with major questions on what to do next. When your home is flooded in a hurricane, it’s time to take action. While nothing will make the process easy, you’ll be in much better shape if you know what to do and what to avoid. Here are five things to do when you find yourself victimized by a major flooding event.
Call FEMA as soon as possible to get a number
You may be eligible for disaster relief from the federal government. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) sets aside funding to help people recover from flooding in the wake of a hurricane. Whether you’ll be eligible for funding depends on the extent of the damage and where you’re located. The first step is to get a FEMA number. The sooner you get this, the sooner you’ll be able to start the recovery process with federal assistance.
Collect and protect every important document you can
Whether you’re filing for a low-interest federal loan to aid in your recovery or you’re filing an insurance claim for your home, you’ll need as much documentation as possible. Federal agencies and insurance companies alike will want your Social Security card, your birth certificate, your recent tax returns, your insurance papers, your property receipts. The more information you can put together, the easier it will be for you to file claims and get the ball rolling on your recovery. In the whirlwind that will follow a major disaster, it can be easy to lose track of these documents. Organize them to make the process much easier.
Locate or purchase necessary tools
When your home is flooded during a hurricane, you’ll end up doing some of the recovery work yourself. Contractors will be tough to come by as demand for their services rises and the costs rise, too. You’ll have to do some things on your own if you want it done at all. One of the big challenges, then, is getting your hands on the tools necessary for doing these jobs. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana, many homeowners found it difficult to track down crowbars and other tools needed for simple home repair. Hardware stores couldn’t keep these things stocked as homeowners bought them in droves. Buy your supplies early so you can get started with the things needed to protect and restore your home.
Strip your home to the bones
When a major flooding event happens, you’ll need to settle in for the long haul. Water mitigation should be done by an experienced professional; however, in the event of a hurricane here is what you should know. The first step is to remove the carpet that’s been drenched. Wet carpet can help mold spores grow, making your home more dangerous over the long run. You’ll have no chance of salvaging your carpet, so it pays to get it out of your home as quickly as possible. Water will also seep into your drywall, creating a potentially dangerous situation. You must perform a major demolition job on your walls, removing that drywall as quickly as you can. The goal is to get the home down to its studs so those studs can dry out. This can take many months in some cases, but getting drywall and carpet out of the way is the first step. Be careful to use an appropriate mask so that harmful airborne agents don’t infect your lungs as you handle the demo.
Be skeptical of things that sound too good to be true
It’s an unfortunate fact of life that some people see disaster as a chance to take advantage of others. After Katrina, many homeowners lost money when fake contractors took their deposits and skipped town. While the police may look for these people, they can be very difficult to track down in some cases. Make sure you work only with a reputable contractor, and question almost everything they say. You should also be careful when buying a car if yours happens to get flooded out. Many people will try to sell their flood-damaged cars, not letting you know that those vehicles suffered in the storm. Inspect everything and have a healthy sense of suspicion for those deals that seem too good to be true.
Recovering after a major flooding event during a hurricane can be a challenge. It will take a long time, and you may need to develop some skills that you’ve never used before. Many communities get through these disasters by leaning on one another. Help out friends and have your own neighbors help you. While it may take a long time, you can eventually recover and see life go back to normal.