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Shoutwire's Guide To Water Damage Restoration

There are many reasons why you might need the services of a water damage restoration company, or the knowledge to perform your own damage control and restoration to your home. Heavy snow buildup, extensive rain damage, floods, and plumbing malfunctions can all cause an abundance of unwanted water in your house. Similarly, some humidity and moisture in the air can also leave damage, mold, and mildew, if not carefully treated with the appropriate methods. Often, this type of buildup is seen in rooms where steam and dampness are common such as the bathroom, and in some cases, the kitchen. Learning how to take care of your home can keep it clean and protect it through preventative measures before restoration processes need to be put into place, but if you have damage that needs to be repaired, the information below should help you get started.

Getting Rid Of Excess Water

Before you can begin to restore your home after a flood or water damage, you must remove the water from the flooded area, and this can be done in a few ways. In order to get started you'll need some special equipment, particularly if you're going to be in the basement where most of the water collects during a flood. A gas powered water pump, high powered flashlight, waterproof boots or hip waders, work gloves, and hand tools including pipe wrench, hammer, and channel lock pliers. Follow the steps below to begin ridding your home of excess water:

  • Ventilate your home by introducing fresh air back into the flooded area. You can open windows, use fan, or operate a dehumidifier to lower the levels of moisture and dissipate fumes.
  • Be prepared to remove water slowly, especially in the basement or ground level as water pressure in the soil beneath the concrete and around the basement walls can cause the foundation to crack.
  • Never venture into water that is still high enough to splash in unless you're one hundred percent sure that your power has been turned off, and bring a partner to work with in case of emergency situations.
  • Never use a gasoline powered pump inside as carbon monoxide is released and in a compact unventilated area like a basement this could lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. Instead, set it up outside of your home and trail the necessary equipment in through a window or door.
  • Slowly begin pumping out about two or three feet of water, and wait to make sure that no new water is leaking in, then wait until the following day to continue.
  • If water levels are stable, you can remove another two to three feet and repeat until the water has drained completely.

The Threat That Mold Poses To Your Home

Mold might be a naturally occurring part of the environment, but that doesn't mean that it needs to become a natural occurrence in your home. Mold is caused by the production of microscopic spores that float through the air and settles on damp surfaces such as shower walls, sinks, toilets, kitchen walls, and flooded floor areas. As mold begins to grow and reproduce it can breed allergens that irritate and cause toxic reactions through touching and inhaling for some sensitive people. This can cause cold and flu symptoms, and can be fatal to asthmatics and others with bronchial problems and severe allergies.

Another problem that mold introduces to your home is through damage to furnishings, walls, and floors as it breaks down the environment that it settles on. For this reason, eliminating mold isn't only detrimental to the health of your household, but also to the integrity of the house as well. Unfortunately, it is impossible to get rid of all of the mold spores in your home, but this isn't as big of a problem as you might think because mold is only troublesome when it lands on a wet surface. For this reason, it's crucial that you keep your home dry and clean as much as possible; this can be completed through preventative measures, such as wiping down your shower walls after you've taken a shower or bath so that the residual water droplets are dried off and not left to promote mold growth. You can also give areas where dampness occurs often such as the basement, bathrooms, and kitchen an additional wipe down and mop throughout the week to keep floors and walls clean and mold free.

Mold Removal and Water Damage Restoration

If there is a problem with mold growth in your house you'll need to clean it up as soon as possible, but mold will always return to damp areas if they are not treated properly, which means that you should begin the restoration process by fixing any leaks or drips that are occurring. After this, there are a few factors to consider, such as the size of the mold problem that you're dealing with. If the mold is roughly a 3 x 3 foot job then you should be able to handle it yourself, but if it's much bigger than 10 square feet you should call in a professional.

If you hire a contractor, there are a few things to consider before choosing a service provider. The contractor must have experience in cleaning up mold, not just restoring homes after flood or water damage. Check references, and speak to the contractor about following mold removal guidelines provided by noteworthy websites such as that of the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists. You should also have them take a look at your heating or ventilation system in the room where the mold has begun to spread, as part of the moisture problem could be due to the way that the air is being circulated, and contaminated ventilation can blow additional spores through your home and make your family ill.

Scrubbing Away Mold And Mildew

To rid your home of the buildup of mold or mildew, you must dry all damp surfaces surrounding the contaminated area, fix any leaks that might be causing the wetness, and then prepare your cleaning materials. These include:

  • A bucket of hot water with a detergent specified for removal of mold.
  • Gloves to protect your hands from cleaning chemicals and mildew allergens.
  • Garbage bags to discard porous materials that may be contaminated.
  • Face mask to keep your lungs mold free as you work.
  • Old rags or cleaning cloths that you don't mind discarding after use.

Once you're prepared with all of the above materials you can begin scrubbing the moldy surfaces to remove buildup and expose the clean wall, floor, or ceiling beneath. If you find that porous and absorbent materials, such as carpet have been compromised to the mold, they will need to be discarded. If something expensive or of undetermined value has been affected and you wish to save it, you may need to contact a specialist to care for the restoration process of that item.

Dealing With Residual Plumbing Issues

One problem that older homes may face are an additional number of plumbing problems that you may not have even realized were occurring. This doesn't necessarily mean that your plumber has done a poor job, or should have made a closer inspection of your pipes and plumbing system. As you use toilets, sinks, and tubs, there is normal wear and tear, and things can become dislodged, wax rings can deteriorate, caulking can come unsealed, and cracks in porcelain can cause small leaks to form as well. In some cases a loose pipe fitting can also cause leaks, which could be the work of poor plumbing, or it could be caused by old parts and a need to revamp your bathroom hardware. In either case, dealing with the plumbing portion of your water damage restoration project is important to keep additional leakage from occurring, and to assist in the prevention of mildew buildup. You will likely need to contact a professional plumbing service if you suspect any of the above to be true, although some smaller jobs can be done at home if you have any experience with plumbing work.

When Water Damage Reaches The Interior Of Your Home

Believe it or not, the walls that you see from day to day, hang your pictures on, and paint to match your furniture, are not the only walls in your home. Between these walls and the exterior of your house, there are interior walls that are built, not only for insulation from the elements, but also for a more sturdy foundation to the structural integrity of the building, and when these become damaged, that integrity can be endangered, which means an unsteady home. Humidity, leaks, and floods can cause fungus, mold, and mildew to begin the deterioration of these interior walls, and unfortunately, most forms of home insurance will not cover the damage that these interior surfaces incur. For this reason, it's extremely important that you provide good insulation between the walls as a barrier from dampness and vapors. A dehumidifier can help in damp areas, but you can also begin opening doors and windows for a few hours each day when the weather permits it. This can bring an abundance of natural cool air into your home, which makes a surprising difference to humid damp rooms. With that being said, you should never leave windows open if there is rain or snow that may come in and run down the sides of your walls, or seep into cracks or openings beneath window settings. This can cause hidden mold to begin building up around moldings and fixtures, and you'll find yourself needing to replace windows and walls.

Painting And Restoring Aesthetic Appeal To Your House

After a flood or water damage has occurred, it's good to revamp your house and give it a little extra TLC to restore it to its former glory. This can be done through applications including paint, wallpaper, decals, artwork, carpet, new floors, new door and window fixtures, and many other elements of decor. The most important thing to remember before this process begins is the above mentioned removal of additional water, but also the removal of mold. You must never paint over a surface that has signs of mold or mildew, even if it is small and only just beginning. It might seem like you're avoiding the mold problem entirely by painting over it because you can no longer see it, but paint doesn't kill mold, and it will continue to grow beneath the paint, and might even crack and spread to the new surface of your wall or ceiling. Scrub off any signs of mold and mildew before beginning so that you get the most out of your renovations. This holds true for new floors as well; whether you're setting down carpet, laying linoleum, or placing tiles, all signs of mildew must be cleared before you begin, or you'll soon have a very serious problem growing beneath your feet, even if it isn't visible.

Hanging art and curtains can really spruce up each room and make a water damaged home seem as good as new once more, but be wary of soft spots in the walls as you work, and contact a contractor if you think that there is any real damage before proceeding with your work, otherwise you could wind up hammering a nail into the wall and going all the way through, which will require a pricey repair, and even pricier supplies.

Getting Help With Your At Home Restoration Process

There are plenty of places that you can seek assistance, even if you don't plan on using the services of a professional water damage restoration business. Whether you choose to do everything by yourself, or you're only working on the basics, and bringing in a company for the more drastic steps required, you can get an assessment done so that you don't miss anything. If you don't have the money for this kind of help, there are plenty of guides for do it yourself jobs on the internet, and books written by experts on the subject that can be read.