Recent Water Damage Posts
Water damage describes various possible losses caused by water intruding where it will enable attack of a material or system by destructive processes such as rotting of wood, mold growth, bacteria growth, rusting of steel, swelling of composite woods, de-laminating of materials such as plywood, etc.
How Does Water Damage Homes?
Water damage is not always the result of dramatic events like hurricanes and floods. Homes often are ruined by pinhole-sized leaks in pipes, poorly graded soil, blocked gutters, or a sump pump that refuses to turn on. Much water damage results from easily curable flaws that most do-it-yourselfers can fix well in advance of a problem.
Water damage in a house can be truly disastrous. Left unchecked, even a slow leak will rot out drywall and studs, create black mold, and eventually weaken major structural elements like joists and beams. Stopping leaks before that first drop of water starts is the best way to prevent water damage.
Financially, water damage can affect your bank account, as well. Homeowners insurance may cover much of the cost of repairs. Even so, deductibles and coverage limits mean that homeowners will still need to pay out-of-pocket for repairs. A better solution is to address potential problems well in advance.
Water Damaged Ceilings
Blistered or peeling paint or a discolored spot on your ceiling, especially if it's bulging, means water damage. And unfortunately, if you visibly see these telltale signs of damage, there is probably a lot more water somewhere that has caused it, which could lead to structural damage and hazardous ?mold growth.
What do you do if your ceiling has water damage?
Once you spot a leak, damage control is your top priority.
Get something to contain the water. Grab one or more waterproof containers to catch dripping water.
Move or cover your furniture.
Soak up water on the floor.
Make a small hole for drainage.
Call a plumber or roofer.
5 Reasons to Request the Professionals
Water damage can be a minor irritant or a major problem, and even the minor irritants can become major issues if left untreated. Here are five basic reasons why you should dispense with the “do it yourself” approach and call in a professional. We can spot the small stuff. Not all sources of water damage are immediately apparent, and a good water damage mitigation company will be able to look at your home and determine from where the next major problem might come. Taking care of it now will save a lot of money in the long run. We explain the processes we use. A professional water restoration company will be able to explain in detail the procedure that they are going to utilize to remove the water, dry out the property, repair and restore everything that was damaged, and the steps to be taken to ensure that there are no long term issues. Water damage repair and restoration can be an expensive project in virtually any scenario, so you want to be sure of exactly what you are paying for and the results that you should logically expect to see. You get a comprehensive treatment. It is almost never just the area directly affected by water that is the problem. Proper restoration treatment means being able to identify all the problems associated with the water damage and taking the steps to correct them. Some of these problems may be easily overlooked unless the technician is properly trained on what to look for and how to deal with it. A pro will take the measures necessary to prevent future damage. This would include informing you of necessary repairs, bringing in the subcontractors needed for the repairs, or perhaps treating the humidity level in a home to ward off mold growth. You want a company that can take these steps. A professional restoration company will recognize small problems and take care of them before they become major issues. One sunken floorboard can be repaired but left unattended may soon become a whole series of sunken boards. A pro understands the signs around your home that point to future issues.
Preventing Unseen Water Damage
Unseen water causes the most damage to a property, especially when the water contains bacteria and causes mold, rot, and other damage. You should understand where to look and what to look for - what causes this type of damage? For example, the pipes and fittings in your home or businesses walls and floors can develop leaks due to failures in materials, joints, and seals. Leaky pipes inside a structure are hard to find and can cause major damage, since they go unnoticed until the water leaks through to visible areas from your ceilings , walls, and floors. Four places to look for water damage: Pipes: Blocked bathroom drains, failure of waste disposals, and roots in sewer lines. Air Conditions: Ignoring air-conditioners results in costly repairs, poor performance, and moisture issues. Appliances: Water heaters, washers, and dryers often crack, permitting water to trickle inside. These kinds of leaks may expand and create a flood over time, even though the leaking begins gradually. Hoses have a tendency to deteriorate from the inside out, also resulting in leaks. Basements: A wet basement is brought on by moisture accumulations that drip through the foundation. Humidity is increased even though there are no leaks or standing water. High humidity can cause condensation on the cold concrete walls and floors.
Helpful Hints About Toilet Replacement
Toilet Repaired in Northern Virginia
A toilet is expected to be reliable, and they can last for 30 years or more. But sometimes the porcelain material they are cast in can develop a crack or the tank may break. When that occurs and water begins to escape, it is time to replace the leaking toilet. Here are a few tips to help you master the plumbing repair.
After discovering the leak, there are a few steps to take before you can replace the toilet.
• Before beginning the project, purchase a wax ring gasket, water-supply tube, and toilet.
• There are different types of water a broken toilet can leak. If the toilet bowl itself is leaking, consider calling a professional cleanup crew to make sure the water is not contaminated and hasn’t seeped into your walls and flooring.
• Once the water is removed, allow the area to dry thoroughly.
• Remove all standing water from the toilet tank and toilet bowl.
Once the area is dry and disinfected, you are ready to remove the old toilet.
• Disconnect the water supply line from the toilet.
• Remove the bolts securing the toilet to the floor.
• Lift the cracked toilet away.
• Scrape the wax ring and check flange for cracks.
Time to replace that leaking toilet with a new one.
• Center new wax gasket over the flange.
• Connect the water supply to the toilet base.
• Set the toilet in place over the wax gasket and press softly until the toilet meets the floor.
• Tighten bolts or hex nuts at toilet base.
• Connect water supply to wall shut-off valve.
• Sit on the toilet to compress further and re-tighten bolts.
Once the water is restored to the toilet, flush the unit several times. If water leaks between the toilet and floor, it probably means the wax ring was not properly seated or didn’t seal correctly. To correct the issue, consider installing a new ring to finish the toilet repair.
How to Take Care of The Aftermath Broken or Bursting Pipes
Dealing with water damage is never fun. Bursting pipes can lead to flooding, which can cause a lot of problems in your home. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to fix a broken pipe quickly so that the damage is lessened.
Keep Pipes in Good Condition
The best way to handle flooding is to keep it from ever happening in the first place. While there’s not always a way to prevent bursting pipes, there are measures you can take to help keep pipes in good condition and lower their chances of breaking:
• Keeping pipes from freezing
• Checking pipes regularly
• Turning off water while on vacation
Act Fast When Things Go Wrong
Even though you may take good care of your pipes, things can still occasionally go wrong. If flooding occurs, one of the most important things is to act fast. The more water that floods into your home, the more damage there is to be fixed and cleaned up. A damage restoration company can help you handle bursting pipes and the aftermath of flooding. The faster everything is dried out, the less risks there are of unpleasant aftereffects such as mold and odors.
Identify What’s Happening
There are several things to be identified when flooding occurs. You not only need to figure out where the water is physically coming from but also decide if it is clean water, such as water from a tap, or black water, such as sewage. A restoration company can help you handle all types of water and hopefully get the problem taken care of quickly.
Bursting pipes can cause a lot of problems, but you can get them fixed without too much trouble by keeping pipes in good condition, acting fast, and hiring a professional company to help you. If repairs are done quickly and well, you should be able to avoid other problems, such as mold, later on.
The 5 Step Water Damage Restoration Process
Flood damage is one of the most expensive types of property damage in the United States. Each year, billions of dollars are spent on repairing damage due to pipe breaks, supply line breaks or natural sources of flooding. Thankfully, water damage is almost always containable. But it is absolutely imperative that a professional restoration company be called in to begin mitigation efforts, the second any water in the home or water in the business is seen. Left untreated, flood damage will quickly compromise the structure and its materials, leading to potentially massive property damage and even condemnation of the property.
The good news is that, in the United States, hundreds of years of indoor plumbing, living on rivers and lakes and experiencing some of the most severe weather in the world, have all conspired to create a water damage restoration industry that is the best in the world. Almost every town in America has at least one professional restoration company. It's crucial that if any flood damage occurs to a home or property, the local professional restoration company is called in as soon as possible. With a prompt response, flood damage can almost always be completely reversed. With a delay of more than 24 hours, however, the chance of a successful restoration begins dropping precipitously with every passing hour.
The first step in the water cleanup process is calling in a team of restoration and mitigation specialists to the flooded home or business. A professional mitigation team has access to heavy-duty, specialized equipment that is specifically designed to handle flooded homes or business. They also have the expertise and manpower to attack the situation, head on, completely removing all water from the property, typically within just a few hours of arrival. Remember, the sooner a call to the pros is made, the higher the chances of a successful mitigation of potential damage.
The next phase of the cleanup process begins the second the water cleanup team arrives. They will immediately enter the property, surveying the extent of the water in the home or water in the business. At this stage, they will locate the supply line break, pipe break or other failure. If the pipe break or supply line break is causing active leaking, the water cleanup team will shut off the source of any additional flooding. In some cases, the supply line break or pipe break may need to be welded off using heavy equipment, such as torch cutters and gas welders.
If there is standing water in the business or home, the team will begin its extraction. Using ultra-powerful pumps and special vacuum equipment, the team will be able to remove up to 2,000 gallons of water in the home or water in the business, per hour. Within one hour or less, all standing water in the flooded home or business will be completely evacuated.
Next, the cleanup team will begin the drying process. This will be carried out through the use of heavy-duty drying equipment, such as that seen in car washes, as well as giant and powerful dehumidifiers. The drying process is the longest stage of cleanup, usually taking between a few hours to a full day. Upon completion, the flooded home or business will no longer have any traces of uncontained water. This will mark the point at which the structure is no longer at risk of incurring further water damage.
Finally, the team will thoroughly clean every item and surface affected by the flood water. This is to prevent mildew and mold growth, as well as removing smells that inevitably come with materials being soaked.
Tips To Protect Your Home From Water Damage
Water damage is the second most frequently filed homeowner insurance claim. Coming home after a day at work, or a relaxing vacation, to find water in your home can be devastating. Whether a small unnoticed water leak, or a catastrophic flood, the results may be disastrous. Common causes of leaks that lead to water damage in our homes are:Water heatersToiletsWashing MachinesDishwashersTubs and ShowersLeaky roof
By following these simply guidelines you can protect your home from water damage.Know where and how to shut off you water main. If a pipe were to burst, it is imperative to know how to shut off the main water supply.Check hoses and faucets regularly. It is recommended that hoses that lead to your washing machine, refrigerator, and dishwasher are checked on an annual basis and replaced every five to seven years. Consider switching to a stainless-steel reinforced hose.Check showers and tubs. The caulking around your shower and tub should be watertight. If cracks in the caulk are visible, replace it. This is a simple, inexpensive way to prevent water seepage.Regularly check your roof for missing or damaged shingles.
Call it Murphy's Law, call it an act of God or call it just plain bad luck - whatever the term, disasters always seem to strike at the worst possible time. Chances are, whether a flood strikes the day before a big party or a holiday weekend, SERVPRO has been there and restored that. We are available 24/7, so in your hour of need, we are only a phone call away. We have earned the trust of our customers by combining an industry-leading process with a true passion for customer service. Our technicians identify the source and type of water, which determines the proper course of action. We use drying equipment that controls temperature and humidity, minimizing secondary damage. When water damage takes control of your life, we help you take it back.
How to Choosing the Right Water Damage Restoration Company
Broken sewerage systems, plumbing technicalities, and floods can cause serious water damage to a home or a commercial building. As a homeowner or a manager of a commercial building, it's prudent to consider hiring the services of professional water damage remediation services to prevent the damage from escalating and causing even further damages like mold buildup or collapsing of the entire building. Furthermore, such damages can cause problems to your wiring system and affect other expensive appliances like the air conditioning unit. Time is crucial when it comes to responding to flood damage. If the flood damage is not resolved as soon as possible it might lead to other substantial losses that will definitely be too costly to replace or repair. The only ideal step to take is to hire a professional water cleanup service provider to restore the mess. Here are a few tips and guidelines on how to choose the best professionals for the job.
Certifications and accreditation
Although the mitigation process is supposed to commence as soon as possible, it doesn't mean that due diligence shouldn't be followed. Don't just hire anyone who claims to be certified and experienced in offering flood damage restoration services in the neighborhood without verifying the certifications and accreditation. In fact, a credible water cleanup contractor should have specializations in other fields such as plumbing and wiring so as to disconnect and connect broken pipes to restore the water damage satisfactorily. The contractor should have accreditation documents from relevant bodies like the Better Business Bureau.
Years of experience in the mitigation
Hire experienced professionals who have handled water damage mitigation situations that are even worse than the current flood damage problem. Experienced professionals have a good reputation. A good start is to ask friends and close family members for referrals of some of the reputable water damage restoration professionals in the neighborhood who can handle comprehensive drying.
Remember, proximity is an issue here, therefore don't hire contractors who will take several days to get to your home when it has started developing mold. Mold and fungus can start developing on the site after two days. If the home or commercial building gets a mold manifestation, it may require that the building owner hires a mold removal company on top of the water damage restoration expenses. Some valuable possessions and furniture can get damaged if not salvaged in good time. Therefore, hiring professional contractors from the locality is a good idea.
To avoid unnecessary lawsuits in case of any unexpected eventualities during the water in a home or water in a business drying process, it's advisable to hire insured and bonded water in home or water in business removal companies. The water mitigation company should be bonded and licensed and comply with all policies regarding professional operation of a mitigation company.
Tools and equipment
The tools and modern equipment used by the water cleanup companies in removing the water in home or water in business are designed to be more effective than equipment sold for home use. Most businesses or homes can't afford to buy the expensive drying equipment necessary for the drying of the water for personal use. It's necessary to inquire about the type of equipment that the water in home or water in business Restoration Company will use in the water cleanup before signing any contract papers. Sometimes usage of certain equipment is prohibited in some residential estates.
The water removal company professionals should also wear protective gear such as gloves and masks when handling contaminated water from broken sewerage systems so as to avoid cross contamination. Ask the residential or commercial water Restoration Company to recommend any necessary repairs that should be conducted on the building after the restoration project.
How to Remove Water From Your Business
Our Professionals Can Get Your Doors Back Open Quickly with Effective Extraction, Drying, and Repair Approaches
Water losses might vary in their cause and origin, but their effect on your hair salon can be universal with almost any other business. Disasters threaten your ability to serve your customers and cause damage to your building that exceeds your cleaning or restoration abilities. Our SERVPRO professionals have helped many businesses to get their doors back open again after a water loss incident, and we can help yours too.
From the pressing content damage to a need for water removal in your Northern Virginia business, cleaning up the mess is a vital step in the right direction. Our technicians have a wide variety of powerful tools and technologies that can work towards managing the loss as quickly as possible. The faster that our team can mitigate the damage, the sooner we can get the salon cleaned up and ready for your loyal clients to return.
Is Professional Extraction Faster?
It is a common misconception that DIY restoration approaches are as effective as professional ones. Especially when you consider efforts like extraction and drying, the equipment available to even a knowledgeable property owner pales in comparison to the industry-leading tools in our inventory. When you consider hard flooring materials like the ceramic tile and laminated wood throughout your main open floorplan, we have multiple available tools already stocked in our READY trailers and production vehicles to help like:
• Submersible Pumps
• Wet Vacuums
• Squeegee Wands
Extraction is one of the most vital efforts in our mitigation process, as removing standing water can remove much of the pressing threat for the exposed materials and contents in the central area of your shop. Powerful extraction equipment like our submersible pumps can keep water from getting high enough to damage your mounted swiveling chairs and wooden shelving and stations for individual stylists working for your salon.
Is the Floor Damaged Beneath the Surface?
One of the things that you cannot tell with a visual inspection of the damage is how widespread water loss effects have become. The migration of water can be one of the most significant hazards of these disasters, as threats can continue out of sight to facilitate mold and mildew growth, or spread and allow the deterioration of structural supports and subflooring beneath otherwise stable looking surface materials. Identifying moisture pockets and the path of migrating water involves sophisticated tools and intricate drying equipment when these damp points get discovered.
Moisture Detection Tools
We have multiple moisture detection tools that can help our SERVPRO technicians to identify moisture pockets beneath the surface material like tile. Probing meters are the most effective for this approach, though surface meters and thermal imagery also have their place in moisture identification.
Floor Mat System
If moisture pockets get recognized underneath the hard flooring materials in your salon, it is vital to get the water removed as soon as possible. Floor drying mats can be a useful tool for this task, as they provide a steady draw of moisture that can get readily monitored to prevent over-drying the affected areas.
How Long Does Drying Usually Take?
Because no two drying or restoration projects are exactly alike, it is impossible to say with certainty how long drying takes, as many variables could impact these results. We continually modify our drying approaches, equipment, and layout of these machines to maximize drying production.
High-Velocity Air Movers
At the center of all drying efforts by our technicians are the air movers. These tools continually manipulate airflow to increase evaporation. Evaporative drying is the centerpiece of every water recovery project we undertake.
By monitoring the progress of our drying tasks, we can identify what elements need to get manipulated more to increase our output. For example, this monitoring might indicate that centrifugal air movers should get moved to new locations or that there are not enough dehumidifiers to meet the rising moisture content.
Our experienced professionals have a working knowledge of practical drying sciences and how these factors can speed up or slow the drying process. Airflow, humidity, and temperature all must blend harmoniously to meet an efficient moisture removal result.
Does SERVPRO Clean After Drying My Shop?
Cleaning after a loss incident is one of the final ways that we can work to make loss incidents “Like it never even happened.”® We can wipe down surfaces and clean flooring with products like thymol oil to improve their sheen and appearance before you reopen your doors to your patrons.
5 Sewage Backup Tips
Sewage is one of the most dangerous substances to enter your South Arlington homes or buildings.
Sewage can contain fungi, bacteria, and viruses; many of which are disease-causing. Unfortunately, many people fail to appreciate the hazards that sewage presents, particularly for the very young, the elderly, for those with compromised immune systems, or those with respiratory problems.
The IICRC (Institute of Inspection, Cleaning, and Restoration Certification) has compiled guidelines for professional sewage clean-up called the Standard for Water Damage Restoration (S500). Our SERVPRO® Technicians are certified in multiple specializations through the IICRC.
Here are the key principles homeowners should know about sewage back-ups:Sewage contains a variety of pathogenic – disease causing – fungi, bacteria, viruses and parasites. Anyone who works on sewage losses must have updated vaccinations, including one for Hepatitis B.Sewage exposure is particularly dangerous for people with weakened immune systems, including anyone under two or over 60, those who are pregnant, ill, recovering from surgery, on prescription drugs or chemotherapy, or are AIDS victims.It is not safe to stay in a building that’s flooded with sewage unless the contaminated area can be completely sealed off and placed under controlled air flow so that there will be no cross contamination of unaffected areas.Highly absorbent sewage-saturated materials, such as carpet, pad, upholstery, bedding, wicker, paper or even fabrics that can’t be washed in hot water (130°F/54°C) for at least 10 minutes, must be contained and disposed of properly. This goes for sewage-saturated drywall, insulation and several other structural materials too. There’s simply too great a health risk involved if any of these materials are dried in place and cleaned only.Only the most highly trained professionals should attempt sewage remediation work. Then, a “third party” Indoor Environmental Professional (IEP) can provide post-remediation verification or “clearance testing” to ensure that the home or building is safe to re-occupy.
Safe Flood Clean-up Tips
Before entering a building where flood damage may have occurred, make sure it’s safe.
Check for electrical hazards and structural damage, and use proper protective gear like boots, gloves, and respirators. Before you start any construction or repairs, check for common hazardous materials like lead paint and asbestos, which may require help from professional and State-licensed contractors.
Then, follow these tips:Act quickly
The severity of damage escalates the longer water dwells and building components and contents stay wet, so time is of the essence in the aftermath of a flood. In fact, mold will grow within 48-72 hours, so aim to start removing water and drying the environment within 48 hours. Have a list of professionals on hand to call, and understand your insurance policy, as some only cover mold damage up to a certain amount, while others don’t provide any reimbursement for mold.Ventilate affected areas to prevent mold growth
Mold loves moisture and organic materials such as paper or particleboard. In order to mitigate or slow damage, open windows if weather permits and place fans inside of them to keep air moving and maintain moderate temperatures. Work toward the fan as you clean to minimize cross contamination.Assess damage to items and materials
Assess the type of water absorbed by items, such as rainwater, water from broken pipes, contaminated river water or bacteria-filled sewage. There are ways to salvage specialty items but the decision on whether to save or dispose of an item will vary depending on the dollar and sentimental value to the owner. It may not be worthwhile to salvage drywall, carpets and pads, mattresses, pillows, box springs and particleboard. On the other hand, it might be worthwhile to restore costly Persian rugs, leather couches, and antiques or heirlooms. Wet clothing and many household fabrics may be salvageable through machine washing, and a 10-minute soak in detergent and hot water, to remove contamination and stains. The IICRC strongly recommends that in water damages where there are contaminants present (e.g., bacteria, sewage, mold) or where small children or immune-compromised individuals are present that an inspection be conducted by an appropriately trained restorer and remediator.Expose pockets of saturation
Hidden and concealed pockets of saturation need to be opened for cleaning and drying. Layers between building materials hold water that must be discovered and removed or dried. On walls, find the water line and inspect at least a foot beyond it to make sure all damage, wet materials and mold are discovered. Remove and discard the damaged drywall and wet wall insulation. Wet carpets can usually be dried by professionals with the right equipment, but carpet padding, which is like a big sponge, should be discarded. Wood base trim and hardwood can also be saved with the right equipment if they can be accessed and completely dried on both sides. Remember to investigate concealed cavities such as behind walls, in mechanical spaces, under cabinets and furniture, and in crawl spaces.Conduct a thorough cleaning
Durable, non-porous or semi-porous materials, such as studs and joists, hardwood flooring and vinyl products, can be cleaned with common cleaning products or specialized products with detergents. During cleaning, take care to protect areas that are unaffected by the water or mold. After a thorough cleaning of salvageable materials, a disinfectant solution may need to be applied in case of harmful bacteria from sewage, river water debris or even standing water that has gone bad. Professionals like SERVPRO® professionals and indoor environmental professionals can help you decide what is best for your situation. Once you’ve cleaned the wet materials, conduct another round of cleaning. If you choose to vacuum, use a HEPA-filter vacuum to remove allergens, fine dust and spores.Confirm drying before reconstruction
In order to prevent dry rot and structural damage, it’s important not to reconstruct or cover wood and other wet materials until the moisture content has been adequately reduced. SERVPRO® professionals can confirm proper drying before reconstruction.
5 Money Saving Tips for Your Water Bill
What is wastewater averaging?
Wastewater averaging is the practice of estimating the amount of wastewater discharged from your home into the city’s sanitary sewer system. It is essentially a cap on the volume of wastewater you will be billed for each month for the next year. This practice goes by a variety of names including average winter consumption, wastewater winter averaging, winter averaging, winter quarterly average, or winter period average.
Check with your local utility company to see how they handle your wastewater charges. Some utilities don’t want to mess with all these calculations, so they charge a flat, monthly wastewater fee.
Your water utility uses a wastewater average because they can’t measure the actual amount of wastewater discharged from your home. The best way to measure the wastewater discharge is to use your water meter to measure your monthly water use and then estimate the amount of wastewater that could be returning to the city sewers.
Shouldn’t water flow IN be equal to water flow OUT?
Well, in the winter time, it generally does, but during the rest of the year, it doesn’t since you could be using water outdoors. The water you sprinkle on your lawn doesn’t go to the city sewers. Therefore, the wastewater averaging period typically happens during the winter months when there should be little to no outdoor water use.
Typically, a multiple month average during the late fall and winter months is used rather than picking one month during the year. This averaging is more fair just in case you have a higher water use during a single month. If you use more water than your wastewater average, then it is assumed that this additional water has been used outdoors and will not be returned back to the city’s sewers for processing and treatment. Therefore, you are not charged for this water usage on your wastewater bill. Conversely, if you use less water during a month than your wastewater average, then your wastewater charge should equal only the actual amount of water used that month.
Why is this so important?
Generally, the cost of wastewater is higher than the cost of potable water. Due to the nature of wastewater, you can imagine it would be more expensive to treat before being released back into environment. In order to achieve these savings throughout the year though, you have to reduce your water use during your wastewater averaging period.
Conserving water in the winter = Saving money all year long
Using less water during the wastewater averaging period will result in a corresponding lower wastewater bill throughout the entire year. Here are ways to reduce your winter time water use and consequently your monthly wastewater bill:Fix all leaky fixtures – This one is a mundane tip but leaks are a major culprit of unintentional water use in our homes.Shower at your gym – Not only will this conserve water at your home but it could also get your New Year’s resolution to lose weight started early.Don’t wash your car at home – This one is easy.Turn off your irrigation system – Your landscaping probably won’t need water during the winter months since the plants will be dormant.Insulate hot water pipes – Since the cold weather is coming, this is a perfect time to insulate any exposed hot water pipes for more immediate hot water at the faucet. You’ll save some energy as well.
Know where your home’s main water supply shut-off is located, and how to use it.
SHUT OFF THE WATER TO YOUR HOUSE AND DRAIN THE PIPES
This may sound drastic, but it will keep your house from flooding. Take away the water and there’s no pressure on weak points in your system. And even if something does break there’s no water to flood through. Removing the water from your pipes also keeps them from freezing, another big cause of flood damage.
Just before you lock the door for your vacation, turn off the water at your home’s main water supply shut-off. Then flush the toilets and turn on a faucet in the lowest part of the house. Let the water run dry before you leave.
IF YOU NEED WATER RUNNING IN THE HOUSE, FOR PETS OR PLANTS, TURN OFF THE VALVES TO THE TOILETS, FAUCETS, WASHING MACHINE, AND REFRIGERATOR.
Maybe you never noticed, but all of these things have their own little shut-off valves. And while you’ll still have water in the big pipes in your house, these are much less likely to fail than a faucet or refrigerator line. Only leave the water on for the one faucet that will be used for your plants or pets. Click here to find out how to locate and turn off these valves.
CHECK FOR LEAKS
A few weeks before your trip scrutinize areas under sinks and around the water heater to make sure you don’t already have a leak somewhere. According to the American Water Works Association, a leak of 30 drips per minute totals up to nearly five gallons in a day. Imagine if you took five milk jugs right now and poured them out on your hardwood floor, then left that liquid for a week. Then someone came along tomorrow and added five more jugs to the pool. Trust me, this could be your reality. If you find a leak, get it fixed right away.
HAVE SOMEONE CHECK ON YOUR HOUSE
The monstrous damage our house sustained suggests the leak went unchecked for days. If someone had discovered the deluge sooner, we would’ve saved thousands of dollars in damage and blunted the heartbreak of blindly returning home to a disaster.
Whether you turn the water off or not, have a friend or neighbor go into your house every couple of days. Make sure they know where your main water shut off is located. And give them a local emergency contact in case something does go wrong.
HIRE A HOUSESITTER
If you want true piece of mind, find someone to stay in your house while you’re away. Not only will this defend against pressure build-up in your pipes, but if something breaks or leaks you will have a helpful person right there to respond. Ask friends and family for a recommendation or see if someone you know would be willing to housesit.
INVEST IN A WATER SENSOR SYSTEM
Increasingly, there are technological solutions to help prevent devastating water damage to your home. From water sensors that send an alarm when they get wet, to automatic shut-off systems that stop water flow; many options exist. In the next few months we will be investigating this topic – look for a future post with more in-depth analysis and advice.
KEEP YOUR STUFF IN PLASTIC STORAGE BINS
Even if everything goes wrong and your house fills up with water, you can still protect your possessions with plastic storage bins. We lost a lot of belongings in our flood, but my grandmother’s photos survived untouched. Even though they were directly under the breach, effectively at the bottom of a waterfall, inside their plastic storage bin was perfectly dry.
What was not in a plastic bin was my laptop and several other valuable electronics, and only my laptop survived (thanks to a heroic rescue from our local computer shop). If it’s small and can easily be stashed when you leave, put your laptop, tablets, and other sensitive gear in a safe or at least in plastic. This makes it harder for burglars to find too.
GET A SAFE
A safe is good policy even if you don’t have a flood. It can protect sensitive documents and electronics from water, fire, and theft. If you invest in a safe, get one big enough to hold your laptops and tablets. And don’t forget to stash everything in there before you go on vacation.
DOUBLE-CHECK YOUR INSURANCE COVERAGE
If it’s been awhile since you’ve reviewed your homeowner’s coverage limits, be sure you aren’t underinsured. With reconstruction costs often topping those from fire, water can damage everything from your furnace to wood floors to walls to the actual structure of your house. Make sure your policy will cover the full cost if you have a disaster.
Water Damage Remediation Explained
Here’s What To Expect During a Water Damage Remediation & Restoration Project
If you’ve had a burst pipe or flooding in your home or business location, a water damage remediation & restoration project may be necessary. Here’s what to expect from the process.
From the moment you discover water damage, speed is key to resolving the issue without lasting damage to your property. Your first step should be to prevent further leakage by shutting down your main water supply. Next, call your trusted water damage restoration experts. The sooner you hand over the situation to the pros, the sooner the cleanup process can begin.
Who to Call After Water Damage Is Found In Your Home or Business
SERVPRO® will work directly with all homeowner’s insurance companies to resolve your issues. We ask that you call us first because oftentimes we can help resolve issues faster that could potentially prolong the process by calling your insurance company first.
Water Damage Inspection
Our water damage restoration expert will inspect the property to determine the work required. Not all water damage restoration projects were created equal. The work required will depend on factors such as how long the water has been leaking, how much water has escaped, and the extent and severity of the damage. Specialized moisture detection instruments are used to assess the damage and determine the next steps. Your water damage mitigation expert will outline the process in detail and keep you in the loop at every stage.
The Water Damage Remediation Work Begins
Getting the process completed quickly could require a team moving in immediately, so you may need to make accommodation arrangements. While the work takes place, SERVPRO®; your water damage restoration experts will stay in touch with you every step of the way until the work is complete.
Water Damage Extraction, Evaporation & Dehumidification
Getting rid of any stagnant water is a crucial stage in a water damage restoration project. This job is performed using high-powered vacuums, dehumidifiers and evaporation techniques. Your damage restoration company will make sure that while the property is drying out, the water is contained in the affected area and does not cause damage to the rest of your house.
The Water Damage Drying
Once all stagnant water has been removed, the area will be dried out using a variety of methods and equipment designed to circulate air through your home. Among the equipment used are dehumidifiers, heaters, high-velocity air movers and air filters. Not surprisingly, the drying process can be quite noisy, and can also make the environment uncomfortably hot. If power is lost at any point, don’t hesitate to call your damage restoration company and notify them immediately.
During the drying phase of the project, your restoration crew will periodically assess how the drying process is progressing and adjust the equipment if necessary.
Keeping You In The Loop
The water remediation & restoration drying process could take three to five days to complete. However, it drastically depends on the depth and severity of the water damage. Some drying times can last longer. During this time, you will hear from our team who are handling different aspects of the project. You can expect to be kept well informed at every step via communication channels that suit you, whether it’s via email, in-person visits or phone calls.
After The Water Damage Drying Process
When all the water has been removed and the affected area is dry, the water damage remediation project can then move into fixing any areas of your home or business that were destroyed due to the water damage. This is the process we call water damage restoration.
Water Damage Restoration
Any damage that was caused due to water and now needs to be fixed is called Water Damage Restoration. This is where our team will get your home or business looking back to normal. This includes but isn’t limited to fixing:
- Drywall Ceilings
- Kitchen Islands
- Bathroom Vanities
- Bathroom Showers & Bathtubs
- Interior and Exterior Doors & Doorframes
- Personal Content
- Broken Plumbing
- Destroyed Electrical
Our mitigation expert will talk you through the work step-by-step and walk you through the whole process. Our quality control experts will verify & check that you are completely satisfied with your water damage restoration result.
Once you and our team have finalized all the details and your home or business looks better than it did before, our equipment will be removed, and your life can go on as normal.
Water Back Up: Prevention and Protection
There are a number of preventative measures you can take to avoid water back up damage and minimize the amount of damage should it occur. But a significant amount of water back up incidents may not be preventable. For example, Colorado Springs Utilities estimates that water back up damages amount to $1,000,000 annually and that 80% of these losses are unpreventable. Worse, 80% of homeowners do not have insurance protection against water back up.
Water back up most often occurs in the basement and can damage heating systems, water tanks. Basements that are used as laundry areas, for seasonal storage or are finished and used as additional living space put even more property at risk from this cause of loss.
Most homeowner policies do not provide coverage for water back up loss, but the protection can be added usually for as little as $25 to $50 a year.
Sump pumps and back flow valves installed in the sanitary sewer and drain lines are good measures against water backing up from those sources. Maintaining the sewer and drain lines is also an important loss mitigation measure. Homeowners are generally responsible for the sewer and drain lines running from the house to the street, so it is a good idea to have these checked periodically for blockage due to tree root intrusion or an accumulation of dirt, hair, grease or paper products.
Seepage through a building foundation is another common entry point for water back up. This can be avoided by making sure your basement is sealed and rainwater drains away from your home or office. Extremely heavy rains will saturate the ground and result in basement seepage even in homes that have had no problems in the past.
According to the Insurance Information Institute the results of water back up can range from minor financial set back to a potentially devastating consequence. A sewer backup can lead to disease, destruction of your valuables, damage to your house or business, and can even result in electrical malfunctions. Prompt cleanup of the affected property can help minimize the inconvenience and prevent mold and further damage. In the event of sewer backup, immediately arrange for the cleanup of your property. This should include:
- Wet-vacuuming or removing spillage
- Mopping floors and wiping walls with soap and disinfectant
- Flushing out and disinfecting plumbing fixtures
- Steam cleaning or removing wet carpets or drapes
- Repairing or removing damaged wallboard or wall covering
- Cleanup of ductwork
Why Pipe Freezing is a Problem
Water has a unique property in that it expands as it freezes. This expansion puts tremendous pressure on whatever is containing it, including metal or plastic pipes. No matter the strength of a container, expanding water can cause pipes to break.
Pipes that freeze most frequently are:Pipes that are exposed to severe cold, like outdoor hose bibs, swimming pool supply lines, and water sprinkler lines.Water supply pipes in unheated interior areas like basements and crawl spaces, attics, garages, or kitchen cabinets.Pipes that run against exterior walls that have little or no insulation.
How to Protect Pipes From Freezing
Before the onset of cold weather, protect your pipes from freezing by following these recommendations:Drain water from swimming pool and water sprinkler supply lines following manufacturer's or installer's directions. Do not put antifreeze in these lines unless directed. Antifreeze is environmentally harmful, and is dangerous to humans, pets, wildlife, and landscaping.Remove, drain, and store hoses used outdoors. Close inside valves supplying outdoor hose bibs. Open the outside hose bibs to allow water to drain. Keep the outside valve open so that any water remaining in the pipe can expand without causing the pipe to break.Add insulation to attics, basements and crawl spaces. Insulation will maintain higher temperatures in these areas.Check around the home for other areas where water supply lines are located in unheated areas. Look in the garage, and under kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Both hot and cold water pipes in these areas should be insulated.Consider installing specific products made to insulate water pipes like a "pipe sleeve" or installing UL-listed "heat tape," "heat cable," or similar materials on exposed water pipes. Newspaper can provide some degree of insulation and protection to exposed pipes – even ¼” of newspaper can provide significant protection in areas that usually do not have frequent or prolonged temperatures below freezing.Consider relocating exposed pipes to provide increased protection from freezing.
How to Prevent Frozen PipesKeep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage.Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals up out of the reach of children.When the weather is very cold outside, let the cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe - even at a trickle - helps prevent pipes from freezing.Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night. By temporarily suspending the use of lower nighttime temperatures, you may incur a higher heating bill, but you can prevent a much more costly repair job if pipes freeze and burst.If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55° F.
How to Thaw Frozen PipesIf you turn on a faucet and only a trickle comes out, suspect a frozen pipe. Likely places for frozen pipes include against exterior walls or where your water service enters your home through the foundation.Keep the faucet open. As you treat the frozen pipe and the frozen area begins to melt, water will begin to flow through the frozen area. Running water through the pipe will help melt ice in the pipe.Apply heat to the section of pipe using an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, an electric hair dryer, a portable space heater (kept away from flammable materials), or by wrapping pipes with towels soaked in hot water. Do not use a blowtorch, kerosene or propane heater, charcoal stove, or other open flame device.Apply heat until full water pressure is restored. If you are unable to locate the frozen area, if the frozen area is not accessible, or if you cannot thaw the pipe, call a licensed plumber.Check all other faucets in your home to find out if you have additional frozen pipes. If one pipe freezes, others may freeze, too.
Indoor Flooding Focus
Flooding can be associated with water intrusion from and ocean, reservoir, river or canal. However, in Northern Virginia flooding is frequently caused by intense rainstorms or melting snow with which drainage systems cannot cope. The risk of the premises being affected by floodwater needs to be assessed and appropriate precautions taken. Some buildings constructed using modern methods of construction can be particularly susceptible to damage from flooding. In some cases additional flood protection measures over and above country specific Building Regulations’ requirements may be necessary to adequately protect the premises against permanent floodwater damage.
The following general points should be considered in relation to flooding:
- Check whether there has been a history of flooding in the area.
- Check the current local flood risk with the responsible Government agency.
- Have recent developments in the area made flooding more likely?
- Local Government agencies and local water companies/authorities should be able to advise on specific areas which are liable to flood, and on recent modifications to drainage routes.
- Have the authorities installed new flood prevention measure?
- Where applicable, check you understand how the local flood warning system operates and have an emergency plan prepared for such an event.
- If flooding is known to be a possibility, preventive measures to stop floodwater include: – installation of intervening walls or banks, provision of flood boards and sills to doorways or gateways in walls, – blocking up unnecessary openings in the building, – provision of sandbags for emergency use.
- Check for any signs of site drains overflowing. If this has occurred, was it due to a blockage or were the drains inadequately sized? – Next time the flood could be more serious.
- Check that basement areas are provided with adequate drainage. Where necessary, sump pumps should be provided.
Preventing Unseen Water Damage
Unseen water causes the most damage to a property, especially when the water contains bacteria and causes mold, rot, and other damage. You should understand where to look and what to look for - what causes this type of damage?
For example, the pipes and fittings in your home or businesses walls and floors can develop leaks due to failures in materials, joints, and seals. Leaky pipes inside a structure are hard to find and can cause major damage, since they go unnoticed until the water leaks through to visible areas from your ceilings , walls, and floors.
Four places to look for water damage:
Pipes: Blocked bathroom drains, failure of waste disposals, and roots in sewer lines.
Air Conditions: Ignoring air-conditioners results in costly repairs, poor performance, and moisture issues.
Appliances: Water heaters, washers, and dryers often crack, permitting water to trickle inside. These kinds of leaks may expand and create a flood over time, even though the leaking begins gradually. Hoses have a tendency to deteriorate from the inside out, also resulting in leaks.
Basements: A wet basement is brought on by moisture accumulations that drip through the foundation. Humidity is increased even though there are no leaks or standing water. High humidity can cause condensation on the cold concrete walls and floors.
If you live in a floodplain, elevate and reinforce your home to make damage less likely during a flood.
Check with a professional to:Raise your furnace, water heater, and electric panel to floors that are less likely to be flooded. An undamaged water heater may be your best source of fresh water after a flood.Install check valves in plumbing to prevent floodwater from backing up into the drains of your home. (As a last resort, when floods threaten, use large corks or stoppers to plug showers, tubs, or basins.)Construct barriers such as levees, berms, and flood walls to stop floodwater from entering the building (if permitted by local building codes).Seal walls in basements with waterproofing compounds to avoid seepage through cracks.
Use sand bags when flooding is expected:It takes two people about one hour to fill and place 100 sandbags, creating a wall one foot high and 20 feet long.Make sure you have enough sand, burlap or plastic bags, shovels, strong helpers, and time to place them properly.If a flood is expected, some communities will offer free sandbags to residents. Be sure to watch or listen to the news so you can access these resources.
Remember: Standard homeowners insurance doesn’t cover flooding but flood insurance does. Get information at www.FloodSmart.gov.
5 Water conserving Tips for Summer Gardening
To keep your grass or your garden alive during the summer heat wave without driving your water bill to new heights, follow these tips.
1. A standard garden hose and nozzle is the least efficient means of applying water to plants because so much water is lost as mist, runoff and evaporation. Use a soaker hose or a sprinkler wand.
2. For most Americans, a good rule of thumb is that a lawn needs 1 inch of water a week and perennial plants and shrubs will need from 1 inch to 2 inches a week. There's no neat rule for watering annuals, so your best guide is always the plant tag (the small spear-shaped plastic tag that came with the plant when you bought it). It will tell you the sun, soil, pH and water requirements.
3. When in doubt, keep the plant's soil lightly moist and see how it responds. If conditions are especially hot and windy where you are, keep a careful eye out for wilting. If you see the signs, add water to the soil, but don't overcompensate by drowning the plant. Over-watering is just as bad as under-watering; it leads to root rot and soil compaction that robs the roots of air.
4. Don't soak the plant's foliage; it does little good. And don't apply water outside a shrub's or a perennial's root zone. A shrub's root zone is roughly 1 to 3 times the diameter of its canopy, and keeping the water inside this radius will allow it to soak down to where the plant's roots can reach it. If you see water puddling or running off, stop; let the water soak in before resuming. Likewise, water that runs off your lawn or off the top of a flower bed onto paved surfaces does no good. The same applies to running lawn sprinklers: Water your lawn, not the side of your house or the driveway.
5. Mulch is great for holding in moisture and keeping the base of plants cool. However, a thick layer of mulch can also form a crust that prevents water from soaking in. Break up crusted mulch with a rake to allow water in.
You can buy a tool to gauge your soil's moisture level at a nursery or through a horticultural supply catalog. But if you don't have one, a large straight blade screwdriver is a good standby. Poke it into the soil; the drier the soil, the more resistance you'll meet.
What to do After Flooding
After any water damage situation, your primary focus should be safety:Is it safe to stay in the house?Electrical and "slip and fall" hazards are some of the most prevalent concerns.Only do activities that are safe for you to perform.Wet materials can be VERY heavy. Be careful!
What To Do After Flooding:Remove excess water by mopping and blotting.Wipe excess water from wood furniture after removal of lamps and tabletop items.Remove and prop wet upholstery and cushions.Place aluminum foil or wood blocks between furniture legs and wet carpeting.Turn air conditioning on for maximum drying in summer.Remove colored rugs from wet carpeting.Remove art objects to a safe, dry place.Gather loose items from floors.
What NOT To Do After Flooding:Don't leave wet fabrics in place. Hang furs and leather goods.Don't leave books, magazines or other colored items on wet carpet or floors.Don't use your household vacuum to remove water.Don't use television or other household appliances.Don't turn on ceiling fixtures if ceiling is wet, and keep out of rooms where ceilings are sagging.