If you’ve recently experienced a flood or pipe burst and have water damage in your home, you’re probably wondering “what happens now?” The first, and most important, step when dealing with water or flood damage is to stop any active leaks in the home. This can be done by shutting off the home’s main water supply. If you don’t know how to shut off your home’s water supply, call a professional plumber or your local water supply company for assistance. Once any active leaks have been addressed and all water has been turned off, it’s imperative you call a professional to start the water damage cleanup process as quickly as possible to minimize damage.
All water damage restoration jobs are unique and the amount of work required for each depends on a variety of factors such as the amount of area in the home that’s been damaged and how long the water has been present. Once a professional water damage cleanup vendor arrives and has a chance to inspect the home, they’ll be able to put together a detailed project timeline specific to your job. In the meantime, we’ve listed the eight common phases that occur during the water damage restoration process and what happens in each, so you’ll know what to expect.
Once help arrives, the first thing a water mitigation contractor will do is inspect the home and evaluate the damage. In order to properly evaluate the damage, they have special tools and instruments they use to measure the moisture content of the home. To do this, they either poke or rest the instruments on top of surfaces like floors, baseboards, and ceilings in the damaged rooms to get an accurate reading. Depending on the moisture content readings and Institution of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) dry standards for the state you live in, your contractor will assess if drying equipment is needed.
The longer water damage sits untreated, the more likely it is that additional damage can occur. If it’s determined that drying equipment is needed, dehumidifiers will often be placed in the home to prevent against further damage like mold growth while the vendor is waiting for approval from the insurance company, if one is involved. Dehumidifiers can be present for one or multiple nights depending on factors such as the length of time the water has been present and the source of the leak. The contractor working on your home will be able to assess how long the dehumidifiers are needed.
It’s time for one of the most important steps: removing any standing water from the home. The removal process is actually much less complicated than you may think. Contractors use fancy shop vacuums and rotate them around the room, sucking up all the water that’s present in the area. The amount of time this phase takes varies depending on the type of substrate that’s drying, the size of the room and the total amount of water that’s present.
Once any standing water has been removed, it’s time to start drying out the home. Your contractor will bring in different types of air movers (think of these like glorified fans) to help circulate airflow throughout the room. Don’t be surprised if they need to lift up a section of the carpet or position one of the air movers at certain sections of the walls to ensure air is getting to the most saturated parts of the room. If you have hardwood floors, they may use floor mats which help draw the water out of the floor.
If needed, they might even remove the baseboards and drill holes into the drywall to help the walls dry faster. While some of these methods may sound extreme, they’re making every effort to dry the home without having to demolish and rebuild, which could add multiple weeks to the project timeline and become very costly.
The containment and drying phases happen simultaneously. While drying out the home, wet areas are taped off in order to concentrate the heat and suction to the rooms that need to be dried out. Containment is critical as it enables the work crew to maintain the environment of the room and dry the home as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Throughout the drying process, crews will stop by periodically to monitor how the drying is progressing. Specifically, they monitor the dehumidifiers’ intake and output temperatures and humidity levels to make sure the dehumidifiers aren’t putting wet air out into the room. They’ll also go back and take readings of the same surfaces they did during the inspection phase. As rooms are declared dry, crews will often move equipment around to other areas of the home that are still wet.
Once the home has been returned to its previous dry state, the water damage cleanup process is considered complete. At this point, the drying equipment will be removed from the home and your contractor will confirm you’re satisfied with the work.
After the water damage cleanup process is complete, if additional structural repairs are needed, a general contractor will repair any damage in the home that drying wasn’t able to fully address.
The information and advice contained in this article are intended as a general guide for informational purposes only. It does not take into account your personal situation. While we at Resolve have significant experience and history operating in the home restoration industry and working closely with construction contractors, we are not licensed as a general or specialty contractor.