Did you know that all 50 states have experienced at least two major floods within the last decade? Floods forecasted to occur once every 500 years are also occurring at a more frequent pace. Moreover, flooding caused damages worth at least $268 billion in 2017 alone.
With that said, inclement weather is often the culprit behind water damage. If you’ve had a recent massive storm, water may have entered and damaged your property. The signs of water damage may be most evident in your attic, basement, or both.
Aside from severe weather, plumbing disasters can also result in water damage. In many cases, these arise from burst pipes, leaking pipes, and plumbing backups.
Regardless of the cause of the water damage, it’s essential to start the cleanup as soon as possible. This way, you can prevent your home from becoming ultimately uninhabitable.
To that end, we’ve come up with this guide on what you should in the event of indoor flooding and water damage. Read on to learn the most vital steps that you need to take.
Signs of Water Damage You Should Be on the Lookout For
Indoor water damage from bad weather and plumbing disasters can lead to mold growth. They can also cause similar signs of water damage in walls, such as “sweating” or condensation. Worse, they may cause your entire home to become unstable and dangerous.
So, regardless of the cause, be on the lookout for the following signs of water damage.
Stains in the Ceiling
In the attic, look for signs of water damage on the ceiling, especially dark patches. Most of the time, water intrusion from the roof causes circular stains on ceilings. They’re like blotches that are darker in color than the rest of the ceiling.
Plumbing pipes that run across your ceilings may also cause such stains. Regardless of the cause, the patches may still be damp, which means they’re recent.
As for long-term water damage, the stains may be more prominent and have multiple circles. The outer rings are often lighter in color or look faded.
If you have a basement, standing water is a sure sign you’ve got water damage. Avoid “entering,” stepping, or wading in the water, no matter how clear or “clean” it may look. It may contain raw sewage, a milliliter of which can already house 1,000 to 10 million particles of viruses!
This applies to any part of your home; if there’s a strong, musty smell, it’s possible you have water damage. It may be due to weather-related water intrusion, but it may also occur if you have leaky pipes. Plumbing leaks are prevalent, with the average US home wasting 10,000 gallons of water each year.
Visible Mold Growths
Aside from their musty smells, molds also grow in patches of white, green, purple, brown, orange, or black. Note that molds only need as little as 24 to 48 hours to grow and proliferate. They may also spread faster if your home has an indoor relative humidity (RH) of 70% or higher.
Moisture or Condensation on Walls
Walls that seem to “sweat” are solid signs of water damage in basements, attics, and anywhere else. They are, however, especially evident when you turn your home’s HVAC system on. The excess moisture in the air turns into water droplets and can form a sheen-like layer on your walls.
The First Thing to Do If You See These Signs of Water Damage
Did you know that at least 30,000 shock incidents that occur in the US each year? Many of these result in injuries, with the most common being burns.
As such, the first thing you should do if you see signs of water damage is to turn off your main electrical power supply. This will help ensure that there’s no more live current flowing through your home. This is even more crucial if there’s standing floodwater in any part of your home.
Wear rubber boots and gloves before heading to your main electrical panel, though. This is especially vital if the floor is still wet or damp from the flooding incident.
What if you have to wade through the water? In this case, you should call water damage restoration professionals right away. They’re emergency services, so they could get to your home ASAP and shut off the electricity for you.
In case the flooding is due to a burst pipe or leaking water supply pipes, you should close your main water valve. Only do so if it’s safe, such as if you can get to the valve without treading water. Many homes have this in the basement, though, but sometimes, they can also be on an exterior wall.
Contact your homeowners’ insurance company to let them know about your dilemma. If it’s safe to do so, take as many photos of the water damaged area and send these to your insurer. These pictures may help you later on if you do have to file an insurance claim.
Immediate Cleanup Is Necessary to Prevent Further Damage
Right after calling your insurer, schedule your home for water damage cleanup. As much as possible, this should occur within 24 hours from the time that the damage occurred. Remember: molds can start growing and multiplying in your home within just a day or two.
That’s why it’s best to get in touch with emergency water damage professionals as soon as you can. In many cases, they can provide immediate (as in same-day) cleanup services.
Water damage restoration pros use highly-specialized pumping, drying, and air moving equipment. If there’s any “leftover” water in your home, they will pump this out first. From there, they will dry out your home with the use of air movers, scrubbers, and dehumidifiers.
Keep in mind that excess moisture can seep into your home’s structural components. From there, it can weaken the materials, especially wood, and cause further damage. It can also cause rotting, which can compromise the structural stability of your home.
That’s why it’s essential to dry your home as quickly as possible. In doing so, you can mitigate the potential damage that indoor flooding can cause.
Steps That You Can Take to Reduce Water Damage
If it’s clear to re-enter your home, open all the windows to allow air to circulate. Make sure that you wear proper protective gear, such as rubber boots, gloves, and masks. Conduct a careful inspection of your house, starting with the most damaged areas.
Determine What You Can Save
Next, determine if there’s anything that you can salvage, such as furniture and rugs. You may be able to have rugs, floor mats, and even carpeting cleaned by a professional. As for furniture, a specialized cleaning service may also be able to salvage them for you.
Remove Any Wet Materials Sitting on Top of Wooden Floors
If you have wooden floors, remove everything that’s covering them, such as carpets, rugs, or mats. You may have to relocate furniture too, as their legs can cause permanent damage to damp wood or fabrics. What’s vital is to keep the wood away from prolonged exposure to excess moisture.
You should inspect your walls too, especially if you have wallpaper or carpeting on them. You may have to remove portions of these, depending on the extent of the water intrusion and damage. If there’s considerable damage, it’s best to get rid of them as they will also develop mold and mildew.
Mop and Wipe Away
Remove as much moisture as you can from your flooded or water damaged home. You can do this as you wait for the arrival of the water damage restoration experts. The less damp your home is, the lower the odds of more severe issues occurring (such as mold growth).
You should also use environmentally-friendly cleaning solutions and disinfectants. Use these on your floors, walls, and any other surface that the floodwater may have affected. These products can further help mitigate the risks and odds of microbial growth.
Run Fans and Dehumidifiers
Have these devices running as you wait for the water damage cleanup team. These will help facilitate the removal of the excess moisture inside your home.
Be sure to dispose of the water collected by dehumidifier every few hours. It’s also best to clean the device’s filter every time you throw the water it absorbed from the air.
Address Early Signs of Water Damage to Keep It From Worsening
There you have it, your ultimate guide on what to do as soon as you notice the signs of water damage at home. Your safety is your priority, so you may have to evacuate your home. If you can, though, turn off the power first (and the main water valve, if needed).
Then, get in touch with your insurer and a water damage restoration expert. The sooner you do, the sooner they can help you avert further damage.
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