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Water Damage Restoration, Clean Up, & Repair: A Quick Guide

Updated: Jan 22


cleaning up water with sponge

Water damage affects around 14,000 people in the U.S. every single day (based on data from the Insurance Information Institute).


When your property is affected by water damage, it can be a very stressful and overwhelming experience. Whether water damage occurs due to flooding, storms, plumbing issues, or other disasters, it is important to act quickly.


The water damage restoration process is much more manageable if you can quickly secure the affected area and limit the spread of the damage.


Knowing what steps to take immediately after the water has been removed will help you restore your home as soon as possible and reduce the extent of any losses.


In this article we cover answers to some of the most common questions about water damage restoration:


  • What should I do immediately after discovering water damage?

  • How long does water damage take to dry out?

  • How do you fix water damaged walls?

  • How long does it take to restore a home after water damage?

  • How do you recover from water damage?

  • What can be done to protect my property from water damage in the future?


Woman cleaning up water leak under sink

What should I do immediately after discovering water damage?

First, shut off the main water supply or seal off any other potential sources of flooding. Stopping any additional water from flooding into the space is the top priority.


Next, turn off any electrical sources in the affected areas. Before you do any work to clean up the area, you'll need to ensure the space is safe and risks of electrical shock are eliminated as much as possible. Any electrical equipment in the area should be removed and inspected to determine whether it has been damaged from flood water.


Once the area is contained and free from electrical dangers, remove any items that are nearby to prevent further damage or contamination. This can include furniture, carpets, and other household or business items.


Once you have the flooded area contained, it's a good idea to take pictures of the water damage. These will be extremely helpful for insurance purposes and in the case you decide to hire a water damage restoration company.


The final step as part of your initial response is to remove water in the area. Now you're ready to begin the water damage restoration process.


Discovering water damage in your home or business can feel overwhelming but it's not an insurmountable problem. Whether it's due to equipment issues or a natural disaster, acting fast to prevent further damage from occurring is crucial.


Woman sees mold growing from water damage

Is it safe to stay in my home after water damage?

This depends largely on where the damage occurs and how severe the damage is. If a basement has flooded, for example, you may be able to continue residing in the remainder of the home while you work on water damage restoration.


Regardless of where the water damage occurs, you should take into consideration the possibility of mold. Even if the water damage is restricted to one area of the property, a long water restoration process can result in mold that endangers the rest of the space.


If mold is detected, the best solution is to find a temporary place to stay until the damage is contained and repaired.

industrial fans

How long does water damage take to dry out?

The drying time of water damage depends on the extent of the damage, the materials affected, the amount of water present, and the relative humidity in the environment (among other things).


If standing water is still present after the water source has been contained, then water removal is the first step. Water extraction techniques vary too, but you will likely need a wet vac or mobile removing units when standing water is present. As soon as that has been removed, you can work on drying out the area.

In ideal conditions, where equipment such as dehumidifiers and air movers are utilized, it can take anywhere from 24-72 hours for the impacted area to dry completely. However, if the damage is more severe and the source of the water damage has not been taken care of, it can take much longer to fully restore the area.


Take special care with wet carpet. While carpet can often be salvaged, the padding underneath wet carpet will typically be soaked and this becomes a prime spot for mold growth.


You'll need to assess the severity, of course, but don't risk leaving wet padding under the carpet. It will be safer (and cheaper in the long run) to replace the padding before reapplying salvaged carpet.


How long does it take to restore a home after water damage?

The time it takes to fully restore a home after water damage varies based on the extent of the damage. A small leak that is caught early may take only a few days to repair, while severe flooding or extensive leaks that cause significant damage to the home can take several weeks to repair.


Additionally, if the damaged space is left untreated for an extended amount of time, the duration of the water damage restoration process will be longer and much more expensive. That's one of the reasons you should consider real-time water detection (more on this in a minute).

Working on water pipes

How do you recover from water damage?

Even for smaller incidents, recovering from water damage is a multi-step process. Once you've followed the immediate steps (outlined above) to stop the water source and secure the area then you can assess the damage and dive into damage restoration.


If you have flood insurance then you'll want to call your insurance company so they can get involved in assessing the water damage restoration cost and determining how much you are liable to pay for yourself.


In the event you have a significant amount of standing water or there are signs of structural damage, you will likely want to turn to professionals in the field of water damage restoration. Structural damage is especially important to address properly as it could have serious implications on the rest of your property.


Once the damage has been assessed, water damage restoration professionals will work to remove any moisture and contamination from the area. From there, they'll begin the process of restoring your home or business to its pre-loss condition.


If you don't see the need for professional water damage restoration then the process is simple, albeit time-consuming.


First, you'll need to clean the entire area to prevent mold growth. Be extra careful with porous materials because they are easily contaminated. Water often seeps deep into them and mold can begin to grow out of sight.


Next you'll need to make decisions about disposing of wet materials. Anything that has come in contact with the leak or flood waters needs to be cleaned or discarded. Walls are something to pay special attention to.

Man checking Mold damage on wall

How do you fix water damaged walls?

Unless you have construction experience, fixing water damaged walls is best done by professionals in the field of water damage restoration.


First, any insulation and drywall that is damaged beyond repair must be removed and disposed of properly. Walls that are salvageable must then be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected to remove any leftover moisture and mold growth.


Once this is completed, you are essentially rebuilding the damaged area: new insulation and drywall needs to be installed, and the area needs to be painted and finished to match the surrounding area. This is one reason to seek professional help: a pro will know the proper building materials to use and how to ensure the restoration meets industry standards.


Overall, the key to recovering from water damage is to act quickly and immediately determine whether professional help is needed. By doing so, you can minimize damage, save money, and ensure that your property is completely restored to its pre-loss condition.


FireAvert's Water Sensor and Notification Gateway

What can be done to protect my property from water damage in the future?


It is always better to prevent water damage than it is to try to restore your property after damage has occurred. Keeping your property well-maintained is crucial, particularly when it comes to appliances and plumbing.


Accidents happen, however, so even a properly maintained property benefits by the use of real-time water detection. These devices are easy to install and can be placed anywhere water leaks may occur: under sinks, behind toilets and washing machines, or near water heaters.


Water detection devices deliver real-time notifications as soon as water contacts a sensor so you can respond immediately and prevent damage before it starts.


FireAvert has long been the industry leader in fire prevention but we're dedicated to helping property owners protect their property, and this includes from water damage. Check out WaterAvert Pro: the best real-time water detection device available.


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