The Water Damage Restoration Process
Updated: May 17
Water’s fantastic when it stays where it’s supposed to be, but that quickly changes when it sprays out of a leaking pipe or malfunctioning appliance. This necessity turns into a nuisance when it’s not controlled.
The sequential consequences of water damage can cause wet rot, dry rot, mold, and many other types of damage in your home. It’s a serious matter that should be taken care of with urgency. Whether you call us for help or want to take care of everything yourself, these tips could make all the difference for you.
Call a water damage restoration company right away if you realize the water damage is too much for you to handle.
Shut off the source of the water
Locating and stopping wherever the water is coming from is top priority. If it’s an overflowing sink, turn off the sink. If it’s a leaking appliance, shut off the supply line to the appliance.
If the source is a pipe shooting water out of the wall and you don’t know what part of the plumbing it's in, you may need to switch off the water at the main water shut-off.
Move any furniture and belongings out of the area
Casualties of water damage come from all parts of the house. Even though water can destroy a lot of things, many things can still be saved. Getting all of the contents dry as fast as possible gives you the best chance to salvage these items.
Plastic, metal, and wood items are much easier to save if they haven’t been in the water for more than a couple days. Just wipe off any water on anything that’s plastic or metal and you’re good to go. For wood, dry off any water on the surface and then place it in the area that needs drying without impeding the drying of anything else.
It can be difficult to salvage upholstery and things with a high fabric content. Extracting as much water as possible is crucial. If you’re able to remove most of the water from the item, place it in the area where the drying will take place. However, position it in a way that allows the area to dry as well. Don’t put a damp rug on a water-damaged floor, for example.
If there are items that have been affected for an extended period of time or you’re not able to effectively remove all the water from, they may be unsalvageable. Books, paintings, and antiques can sometimes be restored by a professional with the right resources. Ask your water damage restoration company for more details on that if needed.
Cleanup all the water
Now you’ll need to do something about all the water that’s still in your home. If possible, vacuum up the water with a wet/dry shop vac and wipe up the water with towels. If that’s not feasible, call a restoration company right away if you haven’t already.
For hardwood floors, tile, and polished and unpolished concrete, extract and dry the water until all the standing water is gone.
For carpet, vinyl, and laminate, you will most likely have to remove the flooring to effectively dry the area.
The carpet pad will have to be removed because it usually cannot be dried in place. The carpet can be laid back down once the carpet pad is removed and extracted to the point where it just feels damp.
Vinyl and laminate flooring will need to be removed and replaced if any water has gone under them.
Determine how far the water has gone
Sometimes water travels much further than what’s obvious. To make sure everything is mitigated correctly, you’re going to need to know exactly where all the water is.
You can figure this out by getting a moisture meter and learning how to use it, or by asking a water restoration company to perform an inspection.
Remove damaged materials
Other than vinyl, laminate, and carpet pad, any insulation in the walls, MDF or fiberboard baseboards and wall panels, and cabinet toe kicks must be removed if water has gotten to them.
You may be able to leave affected drywall in place if there’s no insulation in the wall cavity and you’re able to drill 1’ holes into the bottom of the drywall to allow air to flow in and out.
Make sure there’s no mold
Before you begin drying the area with fans and dehumidifiers, be absolutely sure there’s no mold growth anywhere. Mold can spread like wildfire when there’s a lot of air movement even if the mold is just starting to develop.
If there’s a small amount of mold, make sure it’s cleaned up with a mold solution or bleach. If there’s a substantial amount of mold, you can’t properly remediate the area, or protect yourself from the harmful effects it can have on your health, call a mold remediation company as soon as possible.
Get dehumidification and airflow
Getting everything dry is one of the most important steps and you’re going to need the right amount of dehumidification and air movement for that.
A standard home dehumidifier isn’t going to cut it for a typical water damage situation. You can rent dehumidifiers that’ll get the job done at a local home improvement store for smaller mishaps, but you may need help from a water damage specialist if there’s a larger area impacted.
The temperature will need to be kept between 70 and 90 degrees fahrenheit with dehumidifiers sufficient for the affected area. Most water mitigation companies offer free estimates if you’re not sure how to figure out how much dehumidification you need.
Regular fans aren’t usually strong enough to deal with water damage either. Powerful fans, or air movers, can be rented at local home improvement stores though. Generally, you’ll need a fan every 12 to 16 linear feet of wall if the water is only on the floor and less than 18 inches up the walls.
There are exceptions to these things and it can get complicated if the water has affected ceilings and upper walls. Have a restoration specialist do an inspection if there’s any doubt.
Re-check affected areas
Water-damaged areas can be dried within 3-5 days on average, but it’s important to check the area again to be sure. Use the moisture meter from before or call a water restoration company to reinspect for elevated moisture.