Hurricanes Irma Harvey water damage rebuilding

Hurricane Harvey, Irma, and Home Repairs

When water damage occurs, it’s essential to act quickly. Water damage restoration contractors have specific steps they perform to facilitate drying. Understanding this process helps you vet these contractors before hiring them for needed work. Here are steps that generally occur during a water damage restoration project. 

The first step is to inspect and assess the damage.  Water damage can occur from broken pipes, faulty equipment (like water heaters, dishwashers, toilets, etc.), and even storm flood waters. The first step in the recovery process is to STOP THE SOURCE OF WATER if possible. Turn off the water supply to the house if a pipe or equipment is broken. Once completed, it's time to assess the extent of the water damaged area using  moisture meters and infrared tools. It is also important to determine if the water is contaminated.  Category 1 “white water” is classified as clean water. Category 2 “grey water” contains a significant amount of contaminants that cause sickness or discomfort when someone is exposed to it. Category 3 “black water” is very unsanitary-usually containing bacteria and fungus that can cause severe illness.  

Water removal and drying is key to mediating water damage. Wet/dry vacuums, submersible pumps, air movers,air conditioners, and dehumidifiers are example of equipment that is used.  Often 1” diameter holes are drilled in the drywall behind floor trim that has been removed. This allows dry air to circulate into the wall space.  If the water damaged area is localized, this area may be isolated using plastic “wall barriers” so that the drying is more effective. Wet rugs, furniture, and possessions must also be evaluated to determine if they can be restored. 

Cleaning and deodorizing is necessary because wet objects often smell bad and may be contaminated by the source water.  Soaps and disinfectants, in addition to scrubbers and foggers, are used during this stage of the water damage restoration process.

Depending on the extent of water damage, electric, HVAC, and plumbing system repairs may be needed. Generally this type of work requires a building permit and it must often be performed by a licensed and insured contractor. Flooring, painting, and trim contractors frequently participate on water damage restoration projects. To ensure that contractors meet the state’s requirements  for licensing and insurance, visit your state’s websites.  Floridians can use for an instant and easy to read report. 

To avoid contractor scams, learn the “business” of construction so you are an informed participant on your project.  Contact your insurance company so that you understand what is, and what is not covered-espeicially claims arising from floods!  Also discuss contractual provisions like “Assignment of Benefits” that are often associated with water damage restoration projects.

As with all emergencies, it is important to respond promptly and correctly so that recovery is more readily achieved.  

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