Water Damage – Prevention & Drying

In Parts I and II of this series, we learned how to safely approach water damage and identify and stop the source. Now we will discuss preventing the spread of water damage and setting up effective drying systems for light water damage.

Step 4: Prevent Further Damage

Furnishings: Immediately relocate furnishings immersed in water or sitting on damp flooring. This is especially important for wood furnishings, or those that have a stain finish prone to bleeding. Nothing ruins carpet quicker than bleeding, wet furniture. Also, furnishings made from wood composite, like MDF, will swell quickly when exposed to water, and are impossible to dry to their original look and strength.

Wall Coverings: Once the furnishings is out of the way, inspect the walls. If water has wicked up the drywall or plaster, immediately remove baseboard and/or wainscoting or wall-coverings. Water gets trapped behind these items and creates a barrier to drying, not to mention a great spot for mold growth. (Speaking of mold, it begins to grow on porous surfaces after 48-72 hours of dampness. If you encounter mold, cease your demolition and hire an expert. This is especially critical if you have children, seniors or those with medical conditions in your home. Do not disturb the mold, as this releases spores into the air. More on this in a future post.) If no mold is encountered, I recommend leaving the drywall in place. It may be salvageable.

Flooring: Once furnishings are removed and wall-finishes are stripped to drywall, it is time to address the flooring. As a general rule, carpet and cushion (pad) damaged with Category I (see Part II of this series) water can be cleaned and salvaged. Carpet cushion damaged by Category II water needs to be disposed, but the carpet can be sanitized and salvaged. Flooring damaged by Category III water needs to be disposed of immediately and the slab or sub floor treated with an anti-microbial chemicals. Leave this to the experts. It takes proper training to safely remove flooring damaged to this extent.

Step 5: Set-up for Successful Drying

Drying a water damaged building is a science. It requires knowledge and tools most homeowners rarely need. I highly recommend contacting a restoration company to assist with moderate to heavy drying.

Should you encounter light water damage, and should you follow steps 1-4 above, here are a few tips for drying:
Place floor fans approximately 12′ along the room(s) perimeter, pointing the air flow in a clockwise direction. This creates a vortex with the air, pushing the air to the outside of the room. If you have access to a dehumidifier, place it on the perimeter of the room to capture this moisture. Be sure to run the condensate line from the dehumidifier to a drain or out of the building. Releasing the condensation into a bucket in the room just creates more moisture in the room and slows drying.

If you had a Category I (see Part II of this series) loss, and the carpet is wet, pull it from the tack strip and attempt to blow air under the carpet if possible.
Light damage should dry overnight using this method.

Be safe as you attempt any from of water damage restoration. If in doubt, call a restoration company to assist with your project. Reputable restoration companies have great equipment and knowledge to assist you in getting your home back in working condition. If you must do-it-yourself, though, the steps above will help minimize the damage and get your home back to normal quickly.

Water Damage

1. Check for Danger
2. Identify the Source
3. Prevention & Drying

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