10 Important Steps for Water Damage Repair

March 19, 2019

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Fast, effective water damage repair after a flood, fire, burst pipe, or other such emergency will ensure your safety and also protect your home from long-term damage. Professional flood restoration and repair services also reduce the risk of mold growth in the home, and a water damage restoration contractor can pinpoint the cause of a burst pipe, leak in the ceiling, or other plumbing disaster.

Important steps for residential water damage repair:

  • Turn off the main water valve in the home, to avoid added flooding.
  • Use heavy-duty commercial dryers or dehumidifiers to ensure surfaces are dried adequately.
  • Clean contaminated areas with bleach.

The best choice for proper water damage repair in your home is to rely on a professional water damage cleanup company. However, if damage is minimal or if a water damage remediation company cannot arrive in a timely fashion, note some essential tips and steps for residential water damage repair.


1. Turn off all sources of water and electricity

Never assume that it’s sufficient to turn off the water supply to an overflowing dishwasher or burst pipe in the basement. It’s not unusual for a homeowner to turn off the wrong valve inside the home, leaving the water supply to a broken appliance connected and risking even more flooding!

When dealing with any broken appliance, burst pipe, or other such interior floods, turn off the main water valve. In a basement, the main valve is usually located on a pipe running against an exterior wall. If your home doesn’t have a basement, check in the utility area next to the water heater or outside the home next to the foundation. You’ll also want to turn off the home’s main electrical breaker.

2. Identify the water type

There are typically three types of water that need flood remediation services:

  • Fresh or clean water; the most typical source of a freshwater flood is a broken plumbing pipe or water heater, or rainwater from outside the home.
  • Gray water is water that is dirty but not necessarily hazardous. For example, outside floodwaters with high levels of mud, but without dangerous sewage or algae, are considered gray water. A broken dishwasher might result in a gray water flood, as that water often contains detergent and food debris that is dirty but not necessarily a hazard to your health.
  • Black water refers to water that contains sewage or other dangerous contaminants; a homeowner should avoid trying to remove or clean black water on their own. Water coming from a toilet or bathtub that backs up and floods a bathroom is typically considered black water even if that water looks clean and clear.

3. Remove standing water

Don’t assume that floodwaters from outside your home will simply recede on their own, and note that a basement or other sublevel might not have a doorway or other area for waters to drain away. Water from any source is also absorbed by drywall, carpeting, and wood building materials rather quickly, leading to structural damage and potential mold growth.

To remove standing water, it’s good to invest in a sump pump which you can rent from virtually any home improvement or hardware store. If standing water is not very deep, you might also rent a heavy-duty wet-dry vacuum with a tank you can empty as needed during extraction.

4. Establish adequate ventilation

It’s easy to think you should open windows when drying out a home after a flood, but consider the temperature and humidity levels outside first! If it’s very humid outside or if rain clouds have not moved out of the area, it can be good to keep windows closed and rely on a dehumidifier and heavy-duty dryers to establish adequate ventilation in the home.

If the outside environment is dry, open the home’s windows but aim fans to direct air outside the home rather than pulling air into the house. Circulating air around the home might not actually dry out flooring and other surfaces, whereas pulling humidity and airborne moisture out of the home helps to remove floodwaters.

finding the source of water damage in Atlanta home

5. Investigate all the damage

Never assume that your home is free of flood damage if surface materials appear dry and clean. The backside of drywall, wood studs behind the home’s walls, the home’s subfloor, and padding underneath carpeting all absorb water easily, and dampness along these surfaces and materials can lead to eventual mold growth.

A moisture meter can alert you to excessive humidity levels in hidden areas of the home, including behind drywall. A water damage restoration expert can also pull up carpeting to inspect its padding and check areas of overlooked water, such as along baseboards or base molding.

6. Remove and toss damaged porous materials

Once porous materials like drywall and wood floorboards absorb water and become soft, they are typically not salvageable and need replacing.

  • It’s not necessary to remove an entire wall when pulling out drywall, but it is vital to remove all areas of softened or damaged materials. Examine the back of cut area and be sure you remove a wide area around water stains and other such marks.
  • Certain carpeting materials absorb water quickly so that they remain matted and flat even after extraction and drying. If your home’s carpeting doesn’t “fluff up” after drying, it might need replacing.
  • Flooded wood floorboards tend to shrink and then cup or bow as they dry. Don’t assume that your wood floors are salvageable if they feel dry but note if they look warped or uneven, and replace them if needed, for your own safety.
  • Unsealed concrete absorbs moisture and get soft and crumbly. If your home’s basement or concrete floors inside the home, be sure to monitor them carefully for signs of water damage.

7. Disinfect damaged areas

Damaged areas of the home need disinfecting, to kill mold and other contaminants and ensure a hygienic, safe surface.

  • Mold spores and other dangerous bacteria and irritants become airborne quite easily, so it’s vital that you spray down those affected areas before scrubbing or brushing.
  • You can buy bleach-based cleansers or simply use a watered-down bleach solution in a spray bottle.
  • Use your bleach solution on any area affected by gray or black water, even if those areas seem clean.
  • Spray down the entire area affected by a flood before cleaning and not just the spots where you’ll be scrubbing!
  • Allow your bleach solution to saturate affected areas and give it time to kill mold spores effectively before cleaning work begins.
  • Rinse your scrub brushes or rags under fresh, hot water often while cleaning. You can also soak them in a separate tub filled with watered-down bleach for more thorough cleaning, to ensure you’re not simply spreading contaminants around the home.

8. Remove areas of excessive mold growth

It doesn’t take long for mold, mildew, and other contaminants to form on and spread along porous materials, as said. After spraying such areas with your bleach solution and allowing time for that cleanser to saturate, and after scrubbing surfaces with appropriate brushes and tools, note if mold or other residues still linger.

If mold, mildew, or any such debris remain on carpet padding, behind walls, or along floorboards and wall studs after cleaning, these materials need replacing. Be sure to cut them away gently so as to avoid allowing mold spores to become airborne, and ensure you bag them in airtight plastic bags before tossing those materials in the rubbish.

mold growing in Atlanta home

9. Replace damaged materials

Once your home is clean and dry, replace damaged insulation, wall studs, drywall, and carpeting. However, you might first note if this is an opportunity to upgrade those materials to something more energy-efficient, cost-effective, watertight, and potentially more comfortable.

For example, you might choose blown foam in place of damaged fiberglass insulation, for added energy efficiency. Replace damaged hardwood floors with a dense, watertight timber species such as teak. If you need to replace your home’s carpet padding, invest in something thick and dense, for more sound insulation and added comfort underfoot!

10. Consider mold remediation services

After flood repair or water damage restoration, consider mold remediation services. Unlike mold cleanup and mold damage repair, remediation services monitor your home for the risk of potential mold growth.

Mold remediation contractors typically note the overall humidity in a home and especially moisture behind walls and in other enclosed spaces. Such contractors will check for signs of developing mold and ensure spores are cleaned before mold spread. These mold remediation services keep mold growth and resultant damage to a minimum, ensuring your home is safe for you and your family.

Related Questions

How long does it take to repair water damage?

A relatively small, contained flood in an average home often takes 2-3 days to repair and clean. For larger homes and more severe floods, and if you’ve allowed the home to be exposed to floodwaters for a long period of time, cleanup might take 5 days on average.

Can you dry out drywall?

Drywall itself can dry out even if left untouched; however, if the material is adjacent to water-soaked insulation behind the wall, the drywall might remain wet. Note, too, that if drywall remains wet for 48 hours or longer, mold often begins to form.

Does mold grow along insulation?

Paper-based cellulose insulation allows for mold growth. Fiberglass insulation does not feed mold, but wet insulation holds dirt that allows for mold growth. Fiberglass insulation also has a paper face that can also encourage mold growth without proper water damage repair.

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