Water Damage Considerations
Water damage can be a devastating blow for any homeowner. Whether it's caused by a malfunctioning household appliance, a burst pipe or a natural disaster such as storms or flooding, water can cause irreversible damage to possessions, furniture and even the structure of a home.
In order to stand the best chance of salvaging possessions and preventing further damage, the site and everything in it must be dried out as quickly as possible. Waiting to begin the drying process can lead to further damage, much of it unnecessary; more timely intervention can prevent deterioration and secondary effects such as the growth of mold.
It's important to hire trained professionals like 1-800 WATER DAMAGE when undertaking a major water damage restoration operation. While it's tempting to try and take care of things yourself — not least because standard home insurance won't always cover water damage — this is typically a false economy. The cost of delayed or inexpert attempts at restoration are often much higher than if the householder simply employs expert help from the outset.
There are two major bodies that provide standardized certification for training and professional guidance on water damage restoration; these are the IICRC (The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification) and the RIA (The Restoration Industry Association). It's best to find experts who are certified by one of these.
The degree of damage and the complexity of restoration will depend in part on the state of the water involved in creating the damage. According to the IICRC's professional guide, the S500, waterfalls into three broad categories. Category one water is clean water from a sanitary and uncontaminated source. Category two water, known previously as "gray water," has some contaminants but is not dangerously unsanitary. It includes overflow from dishwashers and water that has been used to wash laundry, for example. Category three is the most dangerous category; this water is grossly unsanitary. Category three water includes water that has been contaminated with sewage or other dangerous substances, as well as water from streams and rivers. Note that category two water can become category three water if too much time passes or if the water comes into contact with further contaminants.
When drying and restoring property, it's important to consider the category of water that has caused the damage. Simply drying out materials or objects contaminated with category three water, for example, will not be sufficient to decontaminate or sterilize them. Infection and disease can result from contact with dried contaminated materials; this can occur through touch or by inhaling fine particulate matter containing microbes or viruses. Other contaminants, such as chemical toxins, can also be left behind even after drying is complete.
Given the complexity and expense of drying out and restoring water-damaged structures and possessions, it's worth finding out what kinds of water damage your household insurance policy actually covers.