Water damage hazards can be caused by natural forces like flood and rain or by poor structural construction such as leaking plumbing system and faulty landscape grading. The damages caused by water damage can be classified into three levels:
1) Health related problems
2) Structural damages
3) Damages to the household possessions
Here, let us examine how to protect the structural parts of your building and your household properties from further damages after an incident of water damage hazard.
Secure the Structural Parts of Your Building from Damages
If your building has been exposed to an incident of water damage hazard, the first concern should be the structural integrity of the building. If your building has been exposed to water for a long time or to a large volume of water due to flood or leaking plumbing system, you should inspect the building for structural stability. Structural instability may occur in different forms like:
- Disintegration of concrete due to the water trapped inside the structure
- Rotting or swelling of wood due to the water absorbed by it
- Bulging or collapsing of roofs or ceilings due to the water trapped inside it
- Disintegration of the wall due to its exposition to water
- Malfunctioning of electrical systems due to its exposition to water
Water damage from natural disasters cannot be averted in most cases. What can be done in such case is only inspection of the damages, assessment of the damages and then filing a claim to the insurance company. But water damage from faulty or leaking plumbing system can be prevented. Regular inspection of the building and proper maintenance can help you prevent water damage from leaking plumbing system. The places that should be regularly inspected for water damages are:
- Windows and Doors
- Gutter and Drain
- Electrical Appliances like Air- conditioners, water heaters, dryers etc
- Plumbing systems like pipes and drainage systems
Generally, faulty or leaking plumbing system shows off signs of the coming disaster at a very early stage. These signs can be considered as warning signals and if properly taken care of at the right time will help you to prevent water damage hazards. Some of the common signs by which you can identify water leakage are:
· Water Stains
Water stains around the windows or doors is a strong indication of water penetrating the structure from outside. Water stains in the ceiling usually indicate roof leaks. Water stains on the floor of cabinets in the kitchen usually indicate leakage from the drain system.
· Signs on the flooring
If you have wooden floorings, then expanding of the floor is a sign of water leakage. If you have carpets on the floor, then wet or damp carpet can also be a sign of water leakage on the floorings. The kitchen and bathroom floorings are places which indicate water leakage from pipes or drain systems. The wet floorings near refrigerators, water coolers, washing machines and dishwashers also indicate water leakage from the appliances or from the inlet or outlet pipes connected to the appliances.
· Softening or discoloring of drywall
Drywall sometimes becomes soft and breakdowns it is it exposed to water for a long time. Again discoloring of drywall is also an indication of water leakage.
If you understand the signs of water leakage and take care of it at the right time, you can save money, time and effort that is needed to repair the building once the damage has been done.
Measures to be taken to safeguard the structural parts of your building from further damages after an event of water damage
You should enter the building only after determining the structural stability of the building. If the ceiling of the building looks like sagging or the wall look like collapsing, then do not tamper with those parts. It may lead to further damages to those parts. Also inspect the doors and windows. If they have been damaged by water, then there is a chance for burglary of your personal belongings and household properties. In that case it is better to move the properties to a safe place.
Check whether there is still standing water in the rooms. This can cause further damages to the structure of the building and also to the household properties. Make the possible alternate arrangements to safeguard your properties. Also make an assessment of the expenses incurred in the process so that it can be filed to the insurance company.
You should cut off the main power supply to your building before entering into the building after an event of water damage. Do not use electrical appliances to dry out the building or its possessions. As the building has been exposed to excessive flow of water, there can be electrical short circuits if you try to use electrical appliances just after the water subsides. The electrical short circuits may cause further damages to your properties. So, as a measure to safeguard the structural parts of your building from further damages, you must completely cut off the power supply to the building.
You should turn off the main water supply pipes as soon as you detect water leakage. If the main water supply pipes are left on, there is a chance for internal or external leaks. There are chances for certain structural parts which seems alright at the moment to collapse in the near future. In that case, if the main water supply pipes are left open, it can lead to further disasters. So, turn it on only after the problem has been corrected.
Clean and disinfect the building before using or living in the building that has been exposed to water damage hazards.
Secure Your Household Possessions
In an event of water damage hazard, household possessions and interiors can be damaged in many ways. Some of the common damages caused are:
· Household possessions and valuables may get dirty due to mud or silt
· Floor tiles may become sullied
· Wall coverings or paint may peel off
· Panels may become wrapped
· Carpets may rot or get stained
· Furnishings like furniture, appliances etc may get stained, discolored or malfunction
· Books, personal documents, paintings and decorative items may become fragile or corrupted
It is important to completely dry out the building after water damage. For this purpose you have to ventilate the building or leave it open. But it is also necessary to secure your possessions from possible theft. Secure your valuables by moving it to a safe place if the building is left open to dry out. If only a part of the building has been exposed to water, then move all the possession in the affected area to a dry area in the building. Dry out the wet possessions and valuables. Do not use electrical appliance to dry out the possession while you are standing on a wet surface like wet carpet or flooring.
The most common possessions to be inspected for damages after water damage are:
Do not switch on any electrical appliance that has been wet or had been in the room or building that was affected by water damage hazard. Move them to a dry area and let them dry in natural conditions. When you are sure that the appliances have dried out fully, you may switch it on to check whether it is in working condition or not.
Inspect every piece of furniture. Check for discoloring, stains or any other corruptions in the furniture. Dry the wet furniture, disinfect it and only then start using it.
Inspect digital media like computer, TV, DVD, music system etc. Dry out all digital media using the appropriate method. Follow the instructions on the user manual of each digital media to dry out and reinstall them. If it is found malfunctioning, you can add it to your list to be filed to the insurance company.
Carpets and upholstery usually absorb water very easily. So it may get rotten or ruined. It also accommodates insects and bacteria that may cause health problems. Therefore, a thorough inspection of the carpets and upholstery and a complete dry out and even dry cleaning is necessary before using these things after it has been exposed to water damage.
Drying and cleaning up is very important after water damage, such as those caused by flood or water leakage. Also you need to prepare an exact report of the damages done to your properties due to water overflow. This will help you to file claims to the insurance company. It will also help you in the restoration process of the building.
There are many things that you can do on your own to protect your properties from and after water damage. If you feel the situation is out of your control, then you can consult or make use of the services of professionals who are expert in dealing with water damage hazards to get back to normal way of living.