What to Do When You Find Water Damage:
Three Simple Steps
You walk into your home after shopping for the day and find your home looks like the Mississippi River! Your carpets are soaked and your wood floors are beginning to buckle. Naturally, you begin to panic. What do you do? Here are three simple steps:
- If you don’t know where the water is coming from, the first step is to turn off your main water shut-off valve. This can be located near the street or you can find a shut-off valve connected directly to your home.
- Safety must always come first. Make sure that if there is standing water you leave the affected area immediately and turn off the breaker that goes to that room. If you cannot determine which breaker that is, then shut off the big breaker that turns off power to your whole house. Its always best to play it safe and avoid electric shock. NEVER risk plugging in and using your shop-vac or carpet cleaner to suck up water. Electric current and water DO NOT MIX! Leave it to the professionals.
- Call a reputable, licenced and insured, emergency water dry-out company. They will send out a technician within 45 minutes to assess your situation, begin immediate mitigation of the property to help avoid further damage, and assist with insurance claims support.
Keep in mind that the longer the water sits, the more damage you may incur. In an emergency situation, most insurance policies have a clause that requires the home owner to take the initiative to get the emergency situation taken care of within a certain time frame. In essence, this means that the home owner is being responsible and doing their duty by taking care of their property. The longer you wait to get a drying company out to clean up the water and properly dryout your home, the more likelihood that further, secondary damage can set in, such as mold. You have a specific window of time to get the issue resolved. If you don’t begin the cleanup and drying process soon, there is a likelihood that your carrier may deny the claim and say that you let it go on longer than necessary. Its always good to review your policy long before an emergency happens so you know what is expected of you, the homeowner.
Once you have taken these simple three steps to begin resolution to your problem by turning the water off at the source, eliminating risk of electric shock, and called an emergency restoration company, there is more that you can do before the restoration company arrives at the scene to dry your home. Remember, though that anytime there are wet floors involved, there is also a chance of slipping and falling. NEVER take the chance of slipping and falling. Always proceed with caution. When in doubt, just wait for help to arrive. However, depending on the magnitude of the water loss, in many instances there are steps you can take to help lessen further damage until professional mitigation begins. Only if its safe and you are comfortable with beginning some cleanup on your own, here are some things you can do before help arries:
- Mop or blot wet areas with dry towels, soaking up excess water.
- Open drawers and cabinets to air them out.
- Wipe off personal belongings that are wet.
- Dry off wet furniture and if possible, place legs/feet of chairs and sofas on blocks or wrap the feet with aluminium foil. This will prevent bleeding from wood stain to go into carpet and also prevent more water from wicking up into the wood and ruining your furniture.
- Remove area rugs to prevent colors from bleeding into carpets or floors.
- Do NOT throw away damaged belongings. Wait to meet with your insurance adjuster in the event there is a claim.
Water damage can incur as a result of pipes breaking, roof leaks, storm damage, hot water heater leak, AC leaks and more. Its always best to take preventative measures and be prepared before the emergency event occurs. Take the time periodically to familiarize yourself with your homeowner’s insurance policy. Have the tools needed and know where your emergency shut-off valves for natural gas and water are located. Know where your electric breakers are, and know which breakers affect which rooms. Have an emergency contact list posted on your refrigerator or where you can access it easily. In addition to the local fire department and police/sheriff’s department, be sure to include the phone number to your insurance carrier and a reputable water restoration company.