Water will always find its path. Floods come and overflow as water makes its route. We have seen how powerful water is, but have we looked at our homes?
Water is not only powerful when it is in volume. Water has other ways to damage our homes, sneakily. Every household should be careful about how water gets in or out through water pipes, sewage systems, rainwater or snow.
After all, not many people really check the early signs of water damage. Not until their living condition is already compromised.
Here is a guide to understanding water damage and the ways to prevent it.
Water damage can lead to home structure damage.
Dripping water can make holes to concrete. Roof leaks can deface ceilings and walls. This corrodes metal structures or trusses and damage insulation. In houses that were not properly established with a base foundation, rainwater or snow may seep through the concrete or stone floors. Eventually, discoloration and cracks appear.
To households susceptible to flooding, immediate action should be done to prevent costly damage to personal properties and house structure. Flood water is composed of contaminants, and more often than not, it tarnishes and disfigures properties.
To wooden floors or walls, structures weaken. Wood is prone to molds when water seeps in. Wood may start to rot. Molds or fungi start to grow in forty-eight hours and will start to smell until they become evident.
Water can lead to pipes deterioration.
When pipes corrode, this means more leaks, fouler odor and more costly damage. Leaking pipes are hard to see but it takes time to be discovered. When it is discovered, too much damage has been taken.
Water damage can lead to health problems.
Leaking or stagnant water feed growth to bugs, mild dew, and molds. This means more trouble for allergies, respiratory diseases or worse, food poisoning. This endangers the life of your family.
Now that we get the picture of how water damage can do the next thing to do is how to handle water damage.
Roof leaks are easy to detect. When rain pours, water is traceable. To track the hole or the crack on roofs, use a liter of water-removable dye. When sunshine is back, apply the dyed water on the roof from the outside until it goes down to the inside roof, giving you time to trace the leak. If it is damaged shingles, you can easily replace them. If it looks complex, call up a roof repair professional. Make sure that roof and insulation are properly treated.
Make a photographic document of the damage caused by flood. This will give you flexibility in negotiating with insurance adjusters.
Protect hands, eyes and nose during cleaning. Contaminants and other substances from flood water may cause skin, nasal and eye irritation.
Take off any substance or silt from fixtures at the soonest time possible with clean running water.
Wash down carpets, mantels or covers with shampoo, with Clorox or any antimicrobial agent to remove any toxic substances from floodwater and molds. Dry the materials thoroughly by air. Do not place them under direct sun heat.
Books, documents and other paper materials should be handled with care. Gently turn the pages and the edges carefully to dry. Photographs should be removed from the frame. Paintings should also be taken out from the frame but not from the stretcher. Do not touch the photo or painting surface. Face up but not direct to sunlight. Papers must be dealt sensitively. If there are important documents to restore, refer to your local paper drying company.
If there are broken materials or materials that start to break off, do not attempt to repair them. Place the pieces together in a safe container. Wait until they dry to repair them. If you are unsure of what you are doing, refer you local conservator.
Remove stains and any traces of mud on walls and floors with a damp cloth or map mixed with disinfecting agents or bleach on floors. This is to prevent molds or mildew from staying.
The top priority is drying.
Take the furniture and other objects out of the wet area. Dry furniture and other properties through air breeze. Do not put it under the sun. Sun heat may discolor fixtures or clothing. Air drying objects is the best drying method.
Floodwater could be sucked out of the room using pumps. When floodwater is out, have all windows opened for proper ventilation. Increase airflow with fans and dehumidifiers. Open any shades. The faster the drying process, the less likely for molds and other fungi to grow. Keep ventilating the area until completely dry.
Do not use heaters, air-conditioners or other forced air to promote drying of wood floors. Hasty drying may dry up the exterior but not the interior. Hasty drying too can warp the floorboards. Drying out floorboards may take months. To force the house to dry too quickly will create additional damage to the building elements.
Have your electrical and plumbing systems checked.
Make sure that the electrical wiring and plumbing are working properly to prevent other issues. Bad electrical wires may cause fire. When there are corroded plumbing pipes, replace it ASAP. Pipes may lead to water damage or it may contaminate your water.
When electrical system is declared good by the HVAC professional, keep the lights on. Light exposure also helps in drying or reducing humidity. Leave basement lights on, open any shades. The faster the drying process, the less likely for molds and other fungi to multiply.
Take off any substance or remains from fixtures before it completely dries. Do not put it under the sun. Sun heat may discolor fixtures or clothing.
Wash down carpets, mantels or covers with Clorox or any antimicrobial agent to remove any toxic substances from floodwater and molds.
Protect hands, eyes and nose during cleaning. Remove stains and any traces of mud on walls and floors with a damp cloth or map mixed with disinfecting agents or bleach on floors. This is to prevent molds or mildew from staying.
Since floodwater lead to direct damages to surfaces and composition of materials, considerable expense may happen in a short amount of time.
Rework due to floodwater requires fast restoration before molds or any fungi could produce lots of spores. Wallboards may disintegrate. If you have wooden walls, wood may swell or bulge. You might also consider replacing the wood sheets. Eventually the wood may be infested with toxic molds.
Insulation is also feasible for mold to live. Molds combined with mild dew are a risk to rot and to family health.
If this sounds like a complicated job, hire a conservator and a climate control specialist. Conservator will help in treating the area properly. Climate control professionals will aid in how to do the rework in preventing water damage, which is house insulation and house temperature during summer and winter.
The best water damage treatment is defense.
Most of the complicated and costly water damages are structural issues caused by seepage and undetected or hidden pipe leaks. In most cases, it will take several years before problems are detected and generally it is too late. Houses may crumble or toxic mold infestation will be all over the house.
House construction must be well founded, well-insulated and sealed from seepage. Often, poorly vented crawlspaces develop wood rot as moisture from the soil penetrates the floor joists. Moreover, a vapor barrier on the soil protects any moisture from escaping the soil. Instead, soil will reabsorb the moisture rather than the wood. Asphalt roofing paper or polyethylene sheets provide adequate protection. Water damage experts know how water gets in to the indoor environment.
In your water piping system, know where your water shutoff valves are. Remember to shut water supply off if you will be away from home for several days or more.
Normally, water heater lasts between 7 to 10 years. When you notice puddles around the water heater, it is time for replacement. Have a licensed plumber fix it.
Check water drips from air-conditioners, dishwashers, washing machines and garbage disposals. Examine appliances for leaks and check hoses regularly. When drips are seen on hoses, have it replaced right away.
Place your clothes dryer and kerosene stove outside the house. Install exhaust fans on kitchen and keep the area well-ventilated. Open windows when operating the dishwasher.
Check bath tubs for leaks. Open windows or exhaust fan while showering.
Check roof or attic for leaks. Snow creates ice overhangs. This may cause water to back up and escape to the attic. Provide proper ventilation in the attic to reduce humidity. You can have an HVAC expert check on your house structures on a regular basis.
Clean roof and wall lines, chimney and roof valleys from clogged leaves and other materials.
You can have a do-it-yourself check on regular basis.
Do I have water drip-like discoloration on walls or ceilings?
Do I see cracks with stains or discoloration around it?
Do I smell molds?
Is my family suffering from respiratory allergies or illnesses at home?
If you suspect that these scenarios are present, seek professional assistance.