We install smoke detectors and buy fire extinguishers to prepare for a possible house fire. But what do we do to minimize water damage, which is five times more likely?
Water damage costs insurance companies about $3.5 billion per year, mainly due to broken pipes and overflowing tubs and toilets. A quick reaction is key.
“You want to take action right away, so as soon as you realize it, start removing any items that can be removed and get fans blowing in the area so you can start to dry it out,” Angie’s List founder Angie Hicks says.
“Optimally, we will dry out a structure in three days,” says Jennifer Mauck of Langenwalter Carpet Cleaning. “So we come out, extract the water, place drying equipment and then we check back the following days to make sure it’s drying properly.”
Three days is a best-case scenario. If cabinets or drywall get wet, more gear and labor are required to prevent mold.
“We drill holes in the wall and then force air into the area behind the wall,” Mauck says. “Mold likes to grow in dark, no-air-movement, warm places.”
For significant damage, hire a certified restoration professional, but check credentials carefully. A reputable pro will come any day of the week, even in the middle of the night, and will help document items for your insurance claim.
“We take a lot of pictures. We talk through things with the homeowner as we’re pulling stuff out of a basement and putting it upstairs or in the garage. We go through and catalogue things with the homeowner,” Mauck says.
Angie says to toss flood-damaged carpet and buy new. If you store items in the basement, use plastic tubs instead of cardboard boxes, and opt for area rugs instead of wall-to-wall carpet. If you don’t have a sump pump, get one and check it regularly.