Water damage has many faces. From devastating floods to minor leaks, the destructive power of water shouldn’t be underestimated. And while some water damage is easy to address, major events like flooding may require water damage and restoration services that go above and beyond anything you could do on your own. It’s certainly not just a matter of “mopping up.”
However, not all water damage is as dramatic, and there may be times when you can cope on your own or with the help of one or two select contractors. Let’s look at what you can do, and what you shouldn’t even consider attempting unless you have the necessary skills.
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Black Water: Get Help Right Away
A burst pipe in your house isn’t as bad as a flood or sewage spill. “Black water” from potentially polluted stormwater, rivers, or from sewage systems is highly hazardous, and you should get people with the necessary skills and equipment to help you address the water damage. It will certainly mean that many items have to be discarded, so inform your insurance company and take pictures to document the disaster. Leave the rest up to the experts.
Supposing that your household disaster comes from clean water, you can try to address damage yourself if you feel equal to the process, but do document everything that happened, including your cleanup operation, for insurance purposes.
Get Air Moving and Attend to Absorbent Materials
Your first step will be to limit mold growth by drying things out as soon as you can. Open windows and doors, and if you’re confident that your electrical system hasn’t been compromised, use fans to help the process along. Your main goal is to boost natural evaporation, but that probably won’t be enough for porous materials like upholstery and carpets. Move what you can outdoors and consider getting help from a company that deals with carpet and upholstery cleaning. If the spill isn’t too serious, you can try drying out fitted carpets yourself with a rented wet and dry vacuum cleaner.
Look for Water You Can’t See on the Surface
Water can accumulate under floorboards or inside drywall, causing mold and structural damage. If your spill or leak involved a substantial amount of water, it would be wise to look for hidden areas where water may accumulate. Unfortunately, this may mean lifting floorboards and removing areas of drywall so that you can see for yourself.
Watch out for Mold
Mold grows in damp conditions, and can represent a serious health hazard. If you start noticing a musty smell in the days following your cleanup operation, you need to track it to its source. You may have to discard carpets or furniture where mold is growing, or you may have to get builders to help you to solve the issue. If the mold incursion is relatively minor, you may be able to get away with a DIY job, but if the task seems too daunting or your efforts fail to address the problem, get help.
The only good news in all of this is that your home insurance should be able to help you with your costs. However, not all policies protect you from floods, so do check your insurance policy to be sure you have adequate cover.