Recently, national news has been inundated with stories about storms that create massive flooding; causing major damage or destroying houses in the path of the powerful water.
Most of these incidences happen near coastal communities, but the reality is: even if you live near any body of water, there is always the possibility of flooding. Most likely though, water damage to your home will come from a broken water pipe.
Some things to consider when you are faced with a water disaster:
Electrical currents can be lethal when conducted through water. It’s best to turn off the electricity at the circuit breakers that service the power near the leak. If water is affecting the entire house, contact your utility company to have it turned off and possibly remove the meter before you enter your home to inspect the damage.
If the water damage is not from area-wide flooding then find the shut-off valve to the source of the water leak, or find the main shut-off valve for water to your home and turn it off. If you do not know where that is, the next time you have a plumber in for a service call, ask them to show you. Most handymen should be able to locate it for you as well.
In any event, you want to stop or slow the water from a leaking pipe or water line to minimize as much damage as possible. Water damage is something that can affect you for a long time. The water may have been removed from the house, but once it seeps into wood or drywall, mold and mildew start growing almost immediately.
Next, call your insurance company to get them on board with what the damage is or could be. This is when having a record of your valuables (photos and lists) can be your best friend. Also take pictures of the damage you see. This will help move your claim along. Most insurance companies do cover damage from leaking pipes or lines but not from a natural flood. There is flood insurance available and recommended if you do live near water.
If you have a water pump or shop wet/dry vac, you may want to try to remove any standing water as best you can. Remove any furniture, rugs, etc. and survey the damage to those items; are they salvageable or not?
Open all windows to help the drying out process. If you determine that there is water in the walls, punch out a hole to let that water out. Water-damaged drywall will have to be replaced anyway.
If you are unable to remove any water yourself, or after you have gotten the water out, a restoration company should be called. They have the equipment and knowledge to remediate the damage. They usually have an army of contractors who can restore your home back to a livable space. They will immediately send out an estimator to survey the damage and give you a ball-park figure for restoration.
Recovering from a water damaged home or business can take a long time, so be prepared to (temporarily) live in another place until the damage of mold and mildew is gone.
Of course an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, said Ben Franklin. If you have older plumbing, and it has a nuisance small leak, don’t wait to get it fixed. That leak will grow and possibly blow into a full-fledged water line break and flood your home. Water is powerful; its force is much greater than most people realize.