If you’re a homeowner, then you need to be prepared to deal with cleaning up water damage. Even if it’s not something that’s happened to you yet, you need to be ready anyway. In fact, this scenario is the worst nightmare of many homeowners, and it really doesn’t make a difference if the damage gets caused from a faucet someone forgot to turn off, a flash flood, a busted pipe, or a bad rainstorm. The simple truth is that water from any source has the potential to wreak a tremendous amount of havoc very quickly, so you need to know what you should do if a cleanup winds up becoming necessary.
Locate the Source of the Water
It should be obvious that the very first thing you should do is locate the source of the water so that you can start from there. If your toilet or bathtub overflows, or if rain gets down into your crawlspaces or basement, that can be really easy to see. However, if you notice water staining your walls or seeping through cracks in your ceiling, then finding the source might not be quite so easy.
If your roof is leaky, then you need to get it fixed as soon as it is safe to do so in the hopes of preventing any more damage. In the case of a burst or leaky pipe, the water supply needs to be shut off until you’re able to find the damaged pipe.
Asses the Damage to Your Possessions
Prior to getting your cleanup started, you should determine just how bad your home and possessions have been damaged. Hopefully, you only have limited levels of damage to your ceilings, floors, drywall, and so forth, but you might also have damage to the very structural integrity of your home, including the foundation. A lot of it will depend on how long the leak was going on, as well as how much time water had to cause damage in and to your home.
Bring In the Fresh Air to Help Dry Out Wet Surfaces
This article makes the assumption that you’ve personally got both the equipment and time to handle doing your own cleanup, and if this is the case, then the very first step is getting lots of fresh air moving through any area that has suffered water damage. You’ll need to open doors and windows and then turn on ceiling fans and put any box fans you’ve got around. The goal here is trying to dry out the area completely, which is going to reduce any foul smells after the fact.
Use a Dehumidifier
Next, you’ll need a dehumidifier, and you’ll have to get that going as fast as you can. A dehumidifier takes moisture from the air, which is tremendously helpful in cleaning up water damage. It might even ameliorate some of the impacts of water damage.
Once you get a lot of air flow happening with dehumidifiers running, then you need to go through and pick up all paper products, be they cardboard, photographs, magazines, or books. If they’ve suffered heavy damage and they’re not really valuable, then you should just throw them away.
You’ll likely be able to make yourself copies of the most important paperwork, but the most damaged pieces of paper will need to be disposed of. If you have any valuables that took considerable damage, store them in any frost-free freezer you have access to, before finding a water damage restoration professional promptly in order to see what might be saved, salvaged, or restored.
Get a Wet/Dry Vacuum
The next thing you’ll do in the clean-up process is getting your hands on a wet/dry vacuum so that you can clean up as much of the water as you can. You’ll find that such a vacuum is particularly helpful when dealing with tiled floors, wood floors, upholstered furniture, and carpeting. You need to keep using this vacuum until you are able to clean up most of the water so that you prevent any more water damage from happening in your home.
You have to be particularly careful when dealing with wooden surfaces that got damaged by water, so use fans and dehumidifiers going near any and all wooden surfaces just as fast as you can so you can dry them out. Once you get the machines going, you could even try using clean, fresh water and some mild detergent to clean up any treated wood. On the other hand, be mindful of the fact that if wood wasn’t treated effectively, you’ll wind up doing some permanent damage unless you work effectively and promptly.
Clean, fresh water and mild detergent can also clean other surfaces, so you might even want to scrub everything with a small brush if it’s necessary. You might even want to repeat this process if you have any areas that were damaged badly by the water of if they were impacted greatly by the water emergency you’re going through.
Damage to drywall and ceilings can happen as a consequence of many water damage emergencies, so you’re going to need to inspect both your ceilings and walls carefully in order to find any damage that is present. Ceilings and drywalls typically can be dried out, if they haven’t buckled or swelled, and if their seams remain intact. On the other hand, seam separation, buckling, and selling are symptoms of greater damage, meaning that you’ll need to replace the entirety of any areas that get damaged. Even should you manage to thoroughly dry things out, you’re likely going to have to prime and then paint any places that water impacts the most.
You’ll have to keep up the ventilation and dehumidification for a while, and that can sometimes take days to dry everything out. Everything has to be totally dry if you’re going to avoid letting mildew or mold come into your home.
You will have to make a decision about whether or not all of this is worth the time and trouble, especially considering the costs involved in renting or buying the necessary equipment. You’ll also have to pick what gets thrown out, and what gets saved. You might wind up tossing out things that might have been saved, which is just a waste of time and money.
Choosing to not handle all this yourself doesn’t mean you’re giving up on your home. It might just mean it’s better to bring in water damage restoration professionals or services to handle your cleanup. It will certainly save you time and stress, and it might even save you money and things, particularly if insurance picks up any of the bill.