Finding water damage has occurred in your home is a call to action. Water can be destructive to the materials we’ve chosen to build our homes out of.  It warps wood, deteriorates your drywall, delaminates your carpet, peels back laminate flooring, and is part of the recipe for mold.  Bottom line – it’s not good for you or your home. Fortunately, you have resources available to you.  You’ve been paying monthly or yearly for homeowners insurance.  Why?  For such an occasion as this.  It will be worth it for you to check with your homeowner’s insurance to see if they’ll cover your flooded kitchen or laundry room.  A word of caution:  your insurance company may have a restoration company they ask you to use.  A restoration company on an insurance payroll may care more about making the insurance company happy than making sure your job is done right.  But, if by chance, you approve of their choice then it may be a good fit.  Just be aware that you do have a choice.  It is your home. Do not let an insurance company bully you into doing what is best for them.  A restoration company of your choosing can work with your insurance provider just as well as the one they have on their payroll.  A good restoration company is going to put the needs of you and your home above what’s good for the insurance company. It’s our recommendation to find the company that will do the job right and then let them go to bat with the insurance company for you.  Let them take on that burden.  You’ll need to get a claim number and your restoration company will take it from there.

Know how to shut off your water in case a water emergency happens to you

Does this little green box look familiar?  It is your water meter box.  You should have something similar in your yard.   Mine was in my backyard, but it could be out by your curb or maybe in a flower bed. You’ll want to look around and locate yours.  If your home is actively flooding, you’ll need to turn off your water.  You don’t want to be trying to find where to shut the water off, during a water emergency.  If you choose to go this route you’ll need to have a shut-off key.  This is an essential tool for turning your home’s water off from the outside water meter.  You can pick this tool up at your local hardware store. Your next option for turning off your water is your home’s water shut-off valve.  A good place to check for the water shut-off valve inside your home would be around the entrance of your home’s crawl space.  In the instance where your home has a basement, it’s likely that is where you will find it located. If this is all beyond you, get a plumber on the line as soon as possible.  They may be able to either talk you through it or they will come to your property to turn off the water for you.  Hopefully, your home is not currently flooding and you can locate your home’s shut-off valve and water meter.  Familiarize yourself with them ahead of time so you are prepared in case of an emergency.

The different types of water a restoration company works with.

You should know that all water is not created equal.   What? Water is water.   Well yes, of course, but we’re referring to the levels of contaminants in the water flooding your home.  There are definite differences to be aware of.  The restoration industry follows trusted guidelines for 3 water types.  They are referred to as category 1, category 2, or category 3.   Cat 1 water damage is essentially clean water.  There is no real danger in coming in contact with this type of water.  However, don’t be fooled.  Just because this water is safe to be in contact with, doesn’t mean it doesn’t need to be properly dealt with.  It is still a part of the recipe for mold and can be destructive if not properly removed and dried.  Here is a real-life example of a cat 1 water damage: Becky went to her upstairs bathroom to start a bath.  Once she began running the water, she got a phone call from her sister.  She couldn’t hear very well over the sound of the running water so she walked out of the room.  She got caught up in the conversation she was having and completely forgot about the water.  It wasn’t until she hung up her phone an hour later that she realized her mistake.  Running up the stairs, the ground was spongy, and the closer she got to the bathroom there became standing water.  Immediately turning off the water, she was mortified at the destruction her bath had caused. There is real destruction in this scenario of a bathtub overflowing and flooding.  Flooring will need to be dried or replaced depending on the materials.  Baseboard and drywall may need to be replaced.  The damage is different in each case but It will likely take several days to dry this home and more to put it back together. Cat 2 water damage is also considered gray water.  So here you can think of your kitchen sink after cleaning the dishes, or the water in a bathtub after you’ve finished bathing.  It’s not clean, but it’s probably not going to harm you by coming in contact with it with your skin.  Here is our real-life example for a cat 2: Paul and Tammy have just tidied up their kitchen for the night and loaded the dishwasher with the last of their dishes for the day.  Paul places the detergent in the dispenser and starts the machine.  It has been a long day and they both head to bed for the night.  Upon rising the next morning they found their dishwasher had broken during the night and flooded their kitchen and into the family room.  They realize they have homeowners insurance for this sort of unfortunate disaster.  They found their restoration company of choice and began the drying out process as quickly as they could. Cat 3 water damage, also referred to as black water, is the most unpleasant of the 3. We’re talking about sewage or chemicals.  And make no mistake cat 3 water is toxic. All water is a breeding ground for mold, however,  due to the higher level of contaminants, when cat 3 water comes in contact with the materials in your home,  it provides the necessary ingredients for mold to grow rapidly.  It is essential when dealing with cat 3 water damage to get the right equipment to dry the problem areas as quickly as possible.  Fortunately, most restoration companies can respond within the hour.   Because the clock is ticking to get the contamination that has entered your home, out.  We do not recommend this level of contamination as a DIY project.  You would be putting your health, and the health of your family at risk.  It’s best to contact a trusted professional for this job.  Let’s take a look at an example of a cat 3 water damage: Nick is at home with his 4 kids.  We all know what a handful that would be.  He’s making lunch when his oldest comes in yelling about poop going everywhere!  He immediately drops his sandwich-making supplies and runs toward the bathroom.  The toilet in the kid’s bathroom is overflowing!  While he was busying himself with making the kids lunch.  His youngest was busy flushing toys down the toilet.  The mess was through the bathroom, into the hall, and entered 2 bedrooms.  What a mess!  Fortunately, Nick understands the severity of this situation and get’s his trusted restoration company to head out to help.   A reputable company keeps the health of you and your loved ones a top priority.  They will place temporary barriers around the contaminated area until it is fully decontaminated and safe for your family to be in the area once again.

Water coming into the home from the outdoors

Water can also come into your home from an outside source.  Water coming from outside and entering your home will be counted as category 3 water damage.  We generally don’t think of this type of water damaging our home unless we live in a flood plain.  Maybe you have a river running through your yard or your home sits at the base of a lake. You have probably prepared for this by getting flood insurance.  If however, you do not live on a flood plain and were not required to get flood insurance you likely have never given it a second thought.  After all, you don’t live by a lake or river so what are the odds of receiving water damage from an outside water source?  Well, the odds might be higher than you think.  Sprinkler pipes bursting or breaking is one of the main culprits to this outside water source entering homes.  Whether yours or a neighbor’s.  And odds are your insurance won’t be covering this damage.  Unless you have flood insurance.   We did experience a case where we worked on a home where the home owner’s sprinkling pipe burst and flooded their entire basement.  Their insurance company accepted the claim.  This is definitely the case of an exception and not the rule, however, It’s worth a phone call to find out if yours might be covered as well.  The best practice here would be to check with your insurance agent to see what water damage will be covered under your current policy and look for any improvements in coverage that would make sense for you.

Nobody likes going into a crawl space

When was the last time you’ve been in your home’s crawl space?  If you like most homeowners the answer is likely, never. Your home’s crawl space is another example of where you might have the unfortunate privilege of finding water in your home.  Finding water here is not something to ignore.  It’s not harmless.  This is a great place for mold to grow, undetected.  It’s a good idea to check for water in your crawl space twice a year.  Make it the same two days each year so it will be just an automatic thing that you do on that day.   In the event that you have a flood on the main level of your home, a restoration professional will check your crawl space for you.  When you have an active water leak on this main floor it’s important to check that no water dripped down from the wet floor into the crawl space.  If the restoration company you’ve chosen to dry out your home does not check the crawl space and the flooded area above it, it may be time to call someone new.  You need to make sure the restoration company is going to do what is in your best interest and take care to make sure the job is done right.  If they don’t check here you could be in for problems when you go to sell your home and water damage was discovered and never properly taken care of.

Experience with water damage restoration services

Chances are you probably know someone that has experienced water damage in their home.  Or maybe you, yourself have gone through this.  It comes in various forms.  Hot water heater pipe bursting, dishwasher flooding, refrigerator water line breaking, washing machine flooding, or maybe a leak from a window into the house.  There are so many possibilities.   You may have even heard tales of well-meaning do-it-yourselfers that found the task to be more difficult than they thought.  If you or a family member considers themselves a handyman and has the confidence to rebuild the damaged space, it may make sense to do so.  However, it is incredibly important that the remediation be done right.  And you only get one chance to get it right.   The remediation is when you properly remove any wet materials and find what can be salvaged and what needs to be disposed of.  Then the area that flooded needs to be properly dried.  This step requires the correct equipment and tools to get it right.  The correct fans, dehumidifiers, testers, diagnosis, etc are what will make this job a success.  Without these correct tools, you risk missing moisture that is trapped in materials such as wood, carpet pad, and even valuables.  When a material is not properly dried you are at risk for mold.  Chances are high that if the drying process gets missed, your insurance will not pay for mold removal. This is why you get one chance to get it right.  Once mold has grown the cost to you goes way up.  It is so important to get it right the first time.  It’s no small task to fix these issues.  

Looking to DIY the drying processes

We’ve seen firsthand the damage improperly drying a home can do.  One homeowner had their dishwasher flood their entire kitchen and dining area.  Because this homeowner was a general contractor by trade he thought to remediate the issue himself.  He set out fans, and got it “dry”.  Knowing the water had done enough damage he needed to replace his kitchen cabinets and floor, he set to work demoing the area.  After removing a portion of the floor he began finding mold.  Now, fortunately, upon finding mold he stopped the demo. Because had he continued the mold may have also continued to spread.  He gave us a call and we came out to do a mold inspection.  We found the mold was not just under his flooring but that it had grown enough to cover the entire crawl space of the home in a matter of a few days.  This small dry job just became a huge mold remediation task.   Due to the extent of mold damage, the cost went from thousands of dollars to dry it out properly (which is likely covered by your insurance) to tens of thousands of dollars (mold is likely not covered by your insurance).   We could have saved this homeowner a lot of frustration, time,  and the headache of added cost.  He simply needed to call us as soon as his dishwasher leaked.  This is why the dry out is the most important step in water damage restoration.  As a water restoration company, we will have the correct tools at our disposal, and the knowledge to make sure the materials in your home are properly dried. Mold loves moisture, without it, it can not grow.  Don’t put yourself in a position where this can happen to you.  Drying out your home, while seemingly simple, is not a DIY project in most cases. We highly recommend leaving the remediation, or drying process to the professionals.  They have the correct equipment and experience to make sure the job gets done right the first time.  When choosing a restoration company to provide your home with water damage services, make sure they are IICRC certified.  Certification states to customers that the restoration company values learning and understanding the best industry standards for their customers.  This shows that they care about the work they’ll be performing.  Next, ensure they are licensed to do the work in your state.  Nobody cares about your home more than you do so make sure you choose a trusted licensed and certified source to care for it.

What if I don’t know anything about repairing the damage water did to my home?

Now, don’t worry if you don’t consider yourself to be a handyman or handy-woman.  We’ve got you covered.  Most restoration companies will take care of both the remediation and the rebuild of your home.  From start to finish the goal is to get your home back, like your dishwasher flood, water heater or washing machine flood never happened.  This can be the fun part for a lot of homeowners.  Whatever was damaged beyond repair in your house flood you get to redesign.  Be aware that the insurance company will pay to replace it with similar products.  But that still gives you a lot of fun new textures or patterns to play with.  Of course, if you’d like to pay for an upgrade out of pocket now is a great time to get that bathroom sink you’ve always wanted.  Or maybe it’s a certain flooring you’ve had your eye on for a long time.  The possibilities are endless.  Well, as endless as your pocketbook.

How long does it take to rebuild after a flood?

Now that you’ve made the decision to have your restoration company rebuild your home after your flood, the next logical question you may have is, How long is this going to take?  If you would have asked me this question before COVID it would have been a bit easier to answer.  The correct answer to this question is it depends on what was damaged in your home and what you choose to replace it with.  In most losses that only include some Sheetrock and basic flooring the repairs can go pretty quickly.  Those can be taken care of in about 3 weeks, maybe sooner if your flooring is in stock.  But a good average would be 3-4 weeks.  More complex losses including wood floors or cabinets and counter tops can easily stretch out months.  Another very large variable is your insurance company.  If your insurance company is timely with paying it allows us as your repair specialists to purchase these needed items and get them coming for your rebuild. 

What will it cost me?

We get asked a lot about how much a restoration company charges for water damage services.  Let me be straight with you.  If you are using your insurance to pay for the damages, it doesn’t matter.  Why would I say that?  Well, it is actually quite simple.  Most restoration companies are using a system called Xactimate.  This system has pre-loaded pricing for the work being done.  We simply input what was done at your home, and forward it to the insurance company.  Your insurance company will then review the information and discuss any changes that need to be made with the restoration company.  This is a stress-free system for you.  We handle all the work with your insurance company.  All you need to worry about is paying your insurance deductible.  Your insurance company will then send a check out for the services the water damage company did on your home and you will pay the restoration company directly.  Pretty great for you right?  You don’t have to be involved with bartering or trying to get the best pricing.  It’s all taken care of for you. We hope this information was helpful to you in better understanding what is involved in water damage restoration. 

If there was anything we didn’t cover here.  Give Armor Restoration a call.  We’d be glad to help.