Unwelcome water problems create heartache, health problems and often financial hardship. Knowing how to protect yourself and recover from the water event can keep a bad situation from getting worse.
Understanding water damage and recovery can be important to almost everybody. Frozen pipes, burst washing machine hoses and many other common occurrences can result in serious water damage. Flooding can occur almost anywhere.
Weeks, months and possibly years after leaks and flooding occurs, new problems can arise from improper or incomplete restoration. Plaster can fall, wood can rot, and building exteriors collapse all because of uncorrected moisture problems. Allergies, neural and respiratory diseases as well as other serious health threats can result from improperly or untreated water problems.
Nasty bacteria, mold and fungi can be found on every surface of a home. Flowing water drives the organic pollutants into every recess. Floodwaters can also deposit the bacteria from sewage.
Drying only the exposed surfaces of a building does not kill the hidden mold and bacteria any more effectively than cleaning the outside of the nasty smelling locker.
All the excess water must be removed from a building after water problems occur.
Pumping and draining of standing water in a building is the obvious first course of action. However, be careful to not pump out standing water until the outside water has subsided. Many homes and foundations have collapsed when the inside water was removed while the outside water was still pushing against the foundation.
The next course of action is the removal of the water absorbed by exposed materials using vacuum suction. “Extraction” is the industry word for this process.
The final and most often ignored step in the process is “drying” or dehumidification to remove the trapped moisture from a building.
Moisture will deteriorate most building materials.
Wood that is soaked will immediately start to decay. Mother Nature uses the decay process so that dead trees turn into topsoil for new trees. Rotting wood windows are often the first sign of moisture trapped inside of building walls.
Plaster, drywall and other gypsum products absorb moisture like a sponge. The bonds that hold plaster together slowly dissolve in humidity. Trapped moisture weakens plaster more each day. Plaster surfaces also bread mold, mildew and disease.
Cloth and paper will deteriorate from moisture. The surfaces of drywall, wallpaper and other coverings decay from moisture. Wallpaper paste and latex paint is a great food for mold growth. It could take months or years to notice the growth that is making someone sick.
Moisture will also deteriorate metal fasteners that are used to support facades, stone veneer, decorations and artwork. Steel products swell, expand and weaken with water damage. Water trapped behind these products can cause the failure and collapse of entire exterior walls.
Restorative drying is simple but critical chemistry
The way to achieve this is to install vents or cut openings that allow air to ventilate on as many sides of damp materials as possible. The trick is to know the locations where the ventilation is needed.
Killing the organic growth is important. Washing, exposure to ultra-violet light, soap and many approved commercial chemicals can disinfect. The same processes can be used to clean contents and building materials.
Manage the humidity to reduce the time and cost of drying a property.
Heat without dehumidification can increase the extent of property damage just as a hot shower room can make gym cloths smell worse.
Warm moisture inside of a property can warp woodwork and have other nasty and unexpected effects. The drying rate must be managed based upon the materials found in the property including the contents.
No matter what the cause of water damage, quick action can protect your investment and treasures.