Flood damage and the reason for water extraction

What you might not know about flood damage

Flood damage to your home can be caused by all three of waters different phases (solid, liquid, or gas) and the longer any of these three phases of water remain unmitigated, the likelihood for more damage is increased. That is why it is important to remove all water, not just the visible water, as quickly as possible. In this article we hope to explain some of the ways that flood damage will affect your home if it has not been completely removed, and explain how quickly the water can enable microbial growth.

Whether it is from flood waters, bathtub or toilet overflows, water heaters, faulty pipes, or anything else, water spreading through your home poses a substantial risk to your property and your health. If you have ever experienced a water loss, big or small, you may have been told by your insurance company that you need to have “water mitigation” performed as quickly as possible. This immediate action recommended by your insurance company may seem hasty, but it is not recommended without good reason. Leaving any excess moisture anywhere in your home for any prolonged period of time increases the chance of structural damage, and greatly encourages microbial growth.

water not being removed

Water damage due to water not being removed in a timely manner.

Water damage restoration, water removal and water extraction is more of a science than you may have previously considered. There are standards that all legitimate water mitigation companies follow that are set by “the scientific community, the international, national and regional trade associations serving the professional disaster restoration industry, chemical formulators and equipment manufacturers, cleaning and restoration training schools, restoration service companies, the insurance industry, allied trades persons and others with specialized experience”. The point being that a lot of thought has gone into water damage restoration, and the importance of immediate water removal and water extraction, from a lot of very smart groups and people.

When a home has been flooded and water removal or water extraction is needed, one of the first steps is to identify the source of the water and to have it “fixed” as well as determining the Category of the water that the structure is exposed to. These categories are meant to help identify the range of contamination in the water and determine the extent of flood damage. We use 3 different categories to identify this:

  1. Category 1: This is water that comes from a sanitary water source and does not pose substantial risk to health.  Examples of this category include broken water supply lines, tub or sink overflows (with no contaminants), appliance malfunctions involving water supply lines, falling rainwater or melting ice and snow, broken toilet tanks or bowls that don’t contain contaminants or additives, and more.  While the water from these sources can originally be considered “clean”, that status is subject to change when the water comes into contact with other surfaces and/or materials.
  2. Category 2: Category 2 water contains contaminants and can potentially cause discomfort and sickness if contacted or consumed by people.  It can contain unsafe levels of microorganisms and other organic or inorganic chemical or biological matter.  Examples of Category 2 water include dishwasher or washing machine discharge and overflows, toilet overflows (without human waste), broken aquariums, and more.
  3. Category 3: This water is considered grossly contaminated. This type would include sewage, toilet overflows (any overflow that originates from beyond the toilet trap will be considered category 3), rising ground water, and others.  This water can contain toxic organic substances, organic matter, pesticides and other harmful materials.

Determining the Category of water that has intruded into the home is one of the first steps in the water removal process. It will help determine the course of action going forward. It is also important to know that the initial category determination can deteriorate to another category over time and depending on other factors such as what it has come into contact with.

The amount of water that has affected the home will also be determining factor on what the necessary water removal steps will be. It will provide a reference for the amount, type and size of equipment used on the flood damage restoration process. Certain situations can change the amount and type of equipment used at any time during the water extraction process.

The excess moisture caused by water damage in a home not only increases the danger of microbial growth overtime, but it also has adverse affects on the materials, structural and otherwise, in a house. Different materials can absorb moisture in different ways, and should be looked at and measured to evaluate the amount of moisture absorbed. In many cases it removal of certain materials is needed in order to get the moisture levels in the home back to equilibrium. This can include drywall, insulation, wood flooring, carpet and carpet pad, ceiling drywall, baseboards, sub-floor, and cabinetry. In each case the return of the moisture level in the home to normal levels, and the category of water the materials were exposed to will be the primary determining factor to whether or not the materials need to be removed.

Drywall needed to be removed

Drywall needed to be removed to access the insulation behind.

There are many factors that determine the processes a company will utilize to address flood damage in a home. Some of them can be disruptive to your life and home, such as the removal of flooring or drywall. It is important to understand that the reason these things are done are to protect the value of your home and the health of it’s inhabitants. Water can hide in it’s various forms, and if left unchecked and not dried can cause damage to your homes structural materials as well as allow microbial growth that can be hazardous to your health. Proper restoration after any type of flood damage should be a very important consideration.


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