If you’re dealing with anything other than a large incursion, you understandably may be considering handling the cleanup and drying yourself to save money or time. The problem is that cleaning up and recovering from water damage isn’t always as straightforward as it seems. This post highlights 3 key things you need to be aware of when addressing water damage from a minor clean water (or Category 1) incursion.

Dealing with disasters such as flooding, fire, sewage, and more can be stressful. Often, these situations occur unexpectedly – do you know who to call if it happens to you? 1-800 WATER DAMAGE is the trusted name in restoration services. We have over a decade of industry-leading experience and are backed by BELFOR, the world’s largest property restoration company. Our highly-trained professionals have the tools and knowledge necessary to get your property looking like new again.
Black water contains pathogenic agents and is grossly unsanitary. Anyone with a compromised immune system, respiratory problems, or allergies, as well as young children and the elderly must remain off the job site until the building is judged safe for occupancy. Black water includes sewage and other contaminated water sources entering or affecting the indoor environment, such as: toilet backflows, flooding from seawater, ground surface water, and rising river water. Category 3 water can contain contaminants such as pesticides, heavy metals, or toxic substances.
Hurricanes and river flooding are common natural causes, as are high water tables and improperly graded ground. Installing a sump pump and water alarm are sensible preventions in areas with high water tables. The sump pump will pump water from under the foundation to drain it away from the home and averages about $1,200 to install. The sump pump itself will cost between $50 to $400. Also, ground that slopes towards the basement of the home can lead to leakage in the basement and increased stress on sewage systems.
Mold can develop within 24 to 48 hours of a flood, says Ashley Small of FEMA, so remove wet contents, including carpeting and bedding, as soon as possible. If an item has been wet for less than 48 hours, it may be salvageable. However, you’ll need to decide whether it holds enough monetary or sentimental value to try to do so. And notify your insurance company before removing items to ensure that you’re not affecting coverage. Always photograph the flood-soaked items.

All severely warped wood (particularly flooring), rotting wood and wood that has developed mold/mildew problems will need to be replaced. Pry apart damaged boards and thoroughly clean beneath them before replacing them. And if the wood is a structural component of your house, you must be very careful when replacing it so that the structure has the right support during and after the water damage repair project.


Despite what you might think, a flooded home can be saved rather than razed to the ground, but removing the moisture quickly is key. "The biggest thing is getting in there and getting it cleaned up quickly," says Robyn Kent, claims administrator at Dalworth Restoration, based in Euless, TX. "Closer to the three- to five-day mark is when it becomes questionable, since by then, all the materials have become fragile."

Remove all of the drywall from the wall if the wrong type of drywall was initially installed. On rare occasions, mold damage results from using the wrong type of drywall for a particular application. The two most common causes of mold damage, not created by water leaks, are drywall installed behind tile, or regular drywall installed in a bathroom instead of mold resistant drywall.


This category contains contaminants that will cause serious health issues and possibly death. Only professionals should handle most large-scale black water accidents such as flooding. Some cleanup, like a backed-up toilet, can be handled by competent homeowners. This type of cleanup and repair is usually the most expensive, often requiring specialized equipment used by qualified mold and chemical remediation crews. It will often require replacement (not just cleaning) of the affected home materials.
Appliance hoses. Broken hoses are among the most common causes of water damage. Regularly inspect hoses and hose fittings on washing machines, icemakers, and dishwashers for kinks, cracks, bulges, or deterioration. Replace standard rubber washing machine hoses every two to five years or more often if they are showing signs of wear. Consider using steel-reinforced hoses for longer life.
In the United States, those individuals who are affected by widescale flooding may have the ability to apply for government and FEMA grants through the Individual Assistance program.[1] On a larger level, businesses, cities, and communities can apply to the FEMA Public Assistance program for funds to assist after a large flood. For example, the city of Fond du Lac Wisconsin received $1.2 million FEMA grant after flooding in June 2008. The program allows the city to purchase the water damaged properties, demolish the structures, and turn the properties into public green space.[2]
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