Forget fire; water is the biggest threat to your home — because you can’t avoid it. Water comes from the sky, seeps up from the ground and travels through your walls, and everywhere there’s water, there is a chance for a leak. Unfortunately, water leaks are often difficult to detect until water damage has become extensive and the repair bill climbs high.
Still, water damage isn’t the end of your life as you know it. Here’s what you can do to recover fully after extensive water damage and find peace of mind in your home.
As soon as you spy water damage, you need to act. Hesitating — or worse, choosing to ignore the issue — will only make the damage worse, which will increase your stress and decrease your hopes of success in restoration and recovery. In fact, it’s wise to begin preparing now, when you don’t have any home water damage in sight, with contact information for experts in your area. Especially for homeowners in moist environments like Miami, sheetrock repair experts, electricians, plumbers and more should be listed in an easy-to-access file should water damage occur. Then, when you spot signs of water damage, you should try to relocate your valuables, especially those susceptible to water damage, as soon as possible.
Better Safe Than Sorry
While you shouldn’t dally in rescuing your belongings from water damage, you should also consider the safety hazards of plunging directly into a water-damaged environment. Water isn’t only dangerous to your possessions, it could also do significant harm to you. Thus, you should stay safe by thinking about:
The water source and type. There are three types of water: clean water, gray water and black water. Clean water comes from springs, rain or city water pipes, and it doesn’t offer much risk to you. Gray water is from a dishwasher or washing machine; it might not be toxic, but it likely has harsh chemicals and some bacteria. Black water is floodwater or water from sewage and it is highly contaminated. It’s best to avoid coming into contact gray and black water to preserve your health.
Mold. Even clean water can create an ideal environment for mold. Unlike mildew, which is harmless and grows on the surface of materials in moist environments like bathrooms, mold eats away at structures from the inside, and it releases toxic spores that harm your respiratory system and skin. If you spy any evidence of mold, leave the property and call professionals immediately.
Electrical contact. Water is a good conductor of electricity, which is why you shouldn’t swim during a lightning storm. Flooding in your home can quickly become electrically charged, either by submerging something plugged into the wall or seeping into wall outlets itself. Your first step during a flood should be to turn off power to your home, but even then, it isn’t wise to venture into electrically hazardous water.
The things you consider most valuable probably aren’t actually what will help you thrive after your encounter with water damage. Instead of rushing for your jewelry — which won’t be affected much by moisture — you should try to collect important documents, like social security cards, birth certificates, passports and deeds. You should also try to find insurance information, so you can contact your provider and get your claim started sooner. After these documents are secure, you can gather up things like clothing or furniture, which will become damaged from moisture, as well as sentimental items you don’t want to see broken or discarded.
It will take much longer and be much harder to recover from water damage if you try to do it all yourself. Not only are you not familiar with the important steps to take when dealing with water damage, but you probably don’t have much DIY-savvy, meaning your walls could have gaping holes for ages. The sooner you can put all evidence of the water damage behind you, the sooner you will return to life as usual — and that means you need to bring in the professionals.
Typically, water damage warrants four types of experts: restoration experts, drywall experts, electrical experts and plumbing experts. Restoration pros will be able to dry up and salvage any elements of your home that have become wet from the water damage. Drywall experts can diagnose the health of your walls and ceilings and replace damaged portions fast. Electricians can tell you if your electrical system took a hit during the water damage, and plumbers will be able to fix any plumbing problems that led to the damage. Your home warranty provider or insurance provider might be able to connect you with service providers in their network, so you can enjoy reduced costs.
Water damage isn’t the end of the world; in fact, it could be an inconvenient beginning. However, how you respond to signs of water damage will determine whether you and your home will rot away — or whether you’ll survive and thrive into the future.