New homeowners face a variety of first-time experiences. Figuring out what type of flowers will thrive in your yard is one example. Learning how many people can fit in your kitchen during a party is another. Sooner or later, every homeowner must cope with one negative situation – handling a leak or flood in the house.
While small leaks might seem unimportant, damage to walls. floors and electronics can occur within 24 hours. Without fast action, the impact of water damage increases. Mold can begin to grow on soft surfaces like drywall in as little as 48 hours. According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), water and mold damage is the second most common cause of homeowner’s insurance losses. Here are some tips and information to consider if your house has water damage in the future.
If your house has water damage – first steps
Whether you intend to clean up the water damage yourself or call in professionals, the experts at SERVPRO recommend doing the following right away:
Shut off the water source
Find the source of the water and shut it off, if possible. Close the supply line valve to a leaking sink or toilet. If the issue is a leaking pipe, repair it. Call a plumber if you can’t locate or stop the flow of water. Use fans and dehumidifiers to remove excess water from the air.
Turn off the circuit breakers
When you can safely access the circuit breaker box, turn off the power to the area of your home that is wet.
Call the insurance company
Review your homeowner’s insurance policy and check with your agent to see if the cause of your water damage is covered. If so, insurance typically covers professional contractors for water removal, cleaning, water damage mitigation and repairs.
Document the damage
Take photos of your water damaged ceilings, floors and walls. Document any damaged belongings like electronics, appliances, furniture, and clothing. Share the images with your insurer if you file a claim.
Get expert help
If the leak in your home caused mold to grow, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends having professionals handle the cleanup. Mold can cause health problems such as allergic reactions and symptoms like hay fever. Bring in water damage specialists for a moldy area larger than 10 square feet. Always call cleanup professionals for damage caused by contaminated water or sewage.
Water remediation specialists (like those at SERVPRO) can accelerate your home’s cleanup and restoration process. Their service includes negotiating with insurance carriers to process your claim quickly and easily. SERVPRO’s water restoration process includes damage assessment, water removal, cleaning, sanitizing, repairs and construction.
Sop up excess water
Mop or blot up as much excess water as possible. To speed up the process, rent a shop vac from a local hardware or home improvement store. Just don’t use your regular vacuum in a flood. If it isn’t designed to remove water, you could damage it or be exposed to electrical shock.
Prop up furniture cushions
Remove wet cushions from furniture and prop them up to dry. Don’t wash cushion covers in your washing machine.
Elevate furniture legs
Put something between the legs of your furniture and wet carpeting. Place the furniture legs on aluminum foil or on wood blocks.
Relocate valuables, such as computers, paintings and documents to a dry place.
Don’t enter wet areas if circuit breakers or electrical equipment have been exposed to water. Avoid the risk of electrical shock.
Survey the ceiling
If the ceiling is sagging from leaking water or wet, don’t turn on ceiling lights or fans. Avoid entering rooms where the ceiling sags.
Reducing the impact of water damage
Any leak or flooding in the home requires immediate action. But if you know what to do when you have water damage, you can minimize the impact, and return your house to normal as quickly as possible. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your insurance company and consult with water damage specialists.