There is one kind of lottery that no homeowner wants to play: it is the water damage lottery. Unfortunately, too many are forced to play, usually when they least expect it. This year, about one in fifty homes is going to have some kind of water damage.

The good news is that, unlike the real lottery, you can improve your odds of success if you know what to expect.  Having a basic understanding of water damage restoration can help you identify an expert who can handle your problem like a pro. Here is what you should know:

1. Inspection

Unwanted water is sneaky. You don’t know where it came from or why it is there. All you know is that you just want it to go away.

The cause of excessive water, the extent of damage, and even the type of water you are dealing with may not be immediately apparent.  Qualified  professionals will determine these factors in order to come up with the best possible solution .

The three most common causes of water damage are:

  • Ground flooding
  • Broken or ruptured pipes
  • Backed up, drains, sump pumps or toilets

The extent of damage generally falls into one of four classes:

Class 1 – This is minimal absorption.  Carpets and padding may be wet on the surface but are not usually saturated.  Generally, the damage is contained to just one section of one room.

Class 2  –   Carpets and padding are saturated. Water may rise as high as 2 feet. The damage is usually limited to one room.

Class 3 –   This is the point at which water damage is considered severe and may involve water coming in through the ceiling.

Class 4 –   This damage requires special drying techniques.  It usually involves damage to hardwood, stone, brick, concrete, or plaster.

The type or category of water must also be determined. The categories are as follows:

Category 1 –  This is clean water from an uncontaminated source such as a broken water line.

Category 2 –  Grey water comes from dishwashers, washing machines, and even toiles that contain some urine.

Category 3 –  Black water sources are river water, sewage, and water that contains feces.  This means that it is likely to contain infectious pathogens.

2. Removal of Standing Water

Of course, you can’t just tell water to leave. Water has to be pumped and vacuumed out first. It also has to be disposed of according to health regulations.  This is especially true in the case of black water, which requires a sanitary sewer system or septic waste transport vehicle.

3. Sanitization, Deodorization, and Drying

Sanitization chemicals may be used depending on the type of grey water; black water should always be taken seriously, as it may contain bacteria that are hazardous to human health. In all cases of water damage, it is recommended to employ a mold prevention agent to keep down mold and spores. Depending on the water level, you might also consider applying deodorants for odor control.

The drying process is also essential to proper water restoration. Drying can involve heaters, industrial fans and dehumidifiers.  At this stage, carpet and padding may need to be removed; holes will be drilled into the baseboards to vent moisture.  Because every home is different, technicians will monitor the area with humidity meters to make sure things are progressing as needed.

4. Prevention and Mitigation

While the drying process is underway, professionals take steps to make sure that no more water can seep through any well-hidden areas. In some cases, it may be as simple as fixing an exposed pipe.

If you have recently purchased a home and just discovered the basement flood every time it rains, you may need to look into water mitigation. While mitigation may require more extensive repairs in the short term, it will save you in the long run.

5. Repair

Once the moisture is gone, repairs can begin.  The cost of repair varies and may cost as little as $450 and as much as $7,000. It ultimately depends on the extent of the damage.

There are several factors that can affect what needs to be fixed or replaced.  For example, how long has water been getting in?   Damage may have been occurring over a prolonged period of time.  Also, the age of your house may be a factor.   Some older homes have asbestos which is more difficult to remove safely.

Understand Water Damage to Defeat It!

No one wants to play the water damage lottery, but if your number comes up, it helps to know something about the game.  It is the best way to recognize professionals who know what they are doing, so that you can come out a winner.