When a home or business is damaged by water from flooding, broken appliances, ground water, or some other source, the effects are both immediate and potentially long lasting. They pose a threat both to material property as well as to health because of potential contamination of the water and development of mold.
The longer the water remains, the more extensive and long-lasting the damage will be and the more cleanup and repairs will cost. It is vital to know what some of the best initial water damage cleanup practices are so that if and when you encounter it, you can significantly limit the amount of harm done to your property and to your bank account.
In that vein, we want to discuss the top 5 best water damage clean practices:
- Assess the situation: for the sake of your health and safety, when finding water damage, it is vitally important that you first spend a few minutes assessing how much water you are dealing with and the source of the water as well as safety hazards.
Things to consider in this assessment are whether or not the water may be electrified because of the cords, electronics, and/or outlets in contact with the water. You need to try to find the source of the water to know whether it is contaminated or clean.
You also need to determine whether it is limited enough to handle with household items (like buckets, mops, and towels), or whether you will need to rent or hire equipment.
This is initial assessment will help you determine whether you are up to the task of cleanup or whether you need to hire a professional.
- Do NOT wait: once you have determined whether you are calling out a professional or tackling it yourself, you cannot wait to take action.
As mentioned above, the longer the situation is left, the worse the damage will be and the more it will cost to clean up and restore. It will also increase the health risks of mold and bacterial and viral contamination of the water.
- Remove items: first, start by shutting off the power to that area, if possible, and unplugging all electronics and removing them along with whatever furniture and possessions are in the affected area.
The sooner items are removed, the more likely it may be to save them. You should also pull up the carpet and the carpet pad, which you will have to trash. If the water is clean, you could potentially save the carpet, but the pad underneath it is no better than a sponge and will need to be replaced.
- Remove water and dry: if it is a small amount of water, you can use buckets to bail it out and towels and mops to dry up the excess. If it is a larger amount of water, you could rent a wet/dry vacuum or a sump pump to pump it out of the area.Once the water is removed, you will need to ventilate by opening windows (if it is warm and dry outside) and dry out the affected areas, including the walls, base boards, etc. You can do this with a humidifier and hefty air moving fans (which you will also need to rent).
For parts of the wall that were affected, you will likely have to cut impacted areas away, since the drywall will deteriorate and its paper backing is ideal for mold growth.
- Disinfect and remove mold: once the area is totally dry, you will want to disinfect the area, since depending on the source of the water, it could have been contaminated with bacteria and viruses. You will also want to use a product that will kill mold and prevent it from spreading.