Water damage is a very common problem, especially today when we often leave our appliances on and go to work. Even the smallest water leaks can cause major problems and issues if you don’t start repairing the damage immediately. Water is going to penetrate your walls and floors very quickly but it can take weeks and even months for floors and walls to dry out. In one of our articles, How to spot hidden water damage in your home, we explained how to spot water damage that isn’t obvious and in this article we’ll cover the steps you need to take after big water leaks or floods in your home.
We don’t even need to say that you need to act immediately because waiting just creates more damage.
Shut the power off and close the water valve
When you notice a big leak or flood in your home, the first thing you need to do is to shut the power off for the entire house. Water is a great conductor of electricity and it’s very dangerous to even enter the house if there is a huge amount of water in it without shutting the power off. You can turn the power off on the main service panel which is usually located outside of the house or near the main entrance in the house. To turn off power to the entire house, flip off the main breaker, usually a double-width switch located at the top of the service panel. When you’ve done that, you can start to deal with the leak.
Your next step is to stop the leakage. If it is a leak from your washer or dishwasher, shutting the power off fixed the leakage. If you have broken water pipes or leakage from your heating system then the only way to stop the leakage is to close the water valve. If you have a smaller leakage and you know it’s exact location then you can simply shut off the water valve located before the leak. If you have a big leakage and you can’t identify where is the leak, you need to shut off the main water valve for the entire house. Your main water valve can be located in your basement or in front of the house. When you find your main water valve spin it clockwise with a wrench or pliers as far as it goes. When the power and water are shut off you can start draining the water.
Drain the water and assess the damage
The next step is vital, you need to remove all the water from the house as soon as possible. If you had a huge flood then you’ll probably need to use big gas powered pumps for removing the water from the house. Don’t go into the store and buy an electric pump because you don’t have any power in your house. After you drained the water it’s time for manual cleaning and assessing the damage.
The next thing you need to do is to completely empty the affected area of furniture and other things that might hinder and prevent you from reaching hard to reach spots. It’s also advisable to put all your clothing in waterproof bags to prevent further damage. By doing so also allows you to inspect the furniture and appliances and assess if they are still usable or are completely destroyed, therefore saving you a lot of money in the process. Let your appliances to completely dry for at least couple of days before you test if they are still operable. If you try to use them while they’re still wet, you’ll just burn and destroy them, not to mention that is also very dangerous.
Clean thoroughly and dry
After completing the first two steps, it’s now time to dry the affected area. Windows, dehumidifiers and electric fans are your best partners for this process. If you had a huge flood in your house then you’ll need a professional dehumidifier. After drying the area, start the cleaning by inspecting the walls and floor tiles for actual damage. This way, you will be able to prepare the necessary materials for renovations in case they are severely damaged.
After doing the visual inspection, you can now start cleaning the affected area. The best companions for this process are a wet cloth, brush, floor mop, and a cleaning agent. After water penetration, your walls and tiles will definitely be discolored. However, if you clean them using a wet cloth with a cleaning agent, it should be fairly easy to restore the old color. If the wiping won’t work, then you can use the brush to forcefully remove the discoloration. In most cases, as long as the water penetration is cleaned within a few days, the stain should be very easy to remove. For your floors, you can use the mop and the cleaning agent to do the trick.
Disinfect and Dispose
It’s also very important that you disinfect the area. Water penetration causes molds and grime to develop in the affected area. That is why it’s very important that you use a disinfectant to protect yourself and your house. Also, start disposing of the furniture that have been severely damaged as they may cause trouble if you keep them around. If you had a severe water damage thorough the entire house, then calling Water Damage Restoration Experts is probably the best thing to do!
But sometimes when you have done everything on the list, the residue water damage may force you to purchase a new floor, or to replace the damaged plank(s). And as everyone who’s done that knows, that could be a rather unpleasant experience.