A Full Guide to Water Damage Restoration

Water Damage Restoration

Water is life—we can’t survive without it, but it can also be ruthlessly destructive. When it makes its way into homes and businesses, it’s all a nightmare. During these times, nothing can be done except rolling your sleeves, dealing with it, and getting into water damage restoration as quickly as possible. Here’s what you need to know for this process.

What Causes Water Damage?

Water damage occurs due to several causes. For example, burst plumbing can leak into a wall or a roof that is leaking and then leak into a home’s upper levels.

The other situation is where a refrigerator, washer, or HVAC system in the home malfunctions and leaks into the carpeting.

The other causes of water damage could be because of a choked drain or gutter, a burst hot water tank flowing into the attic, or a septic tank or sewer backup. It can also be brought about by damaged sprinkler systems, so proper home maintenance is absolutely crucial here.

What are the Signs of Water Damage?

You will, for yourself, save a great deal of stress and money if you can identify the telltale signs of water damage early. Always watch out for the following conspicuous signs:

  • Puddles of water on the floor
  • Swollen or sagging ceiling
  • Warped insulation materials 
  • Water stains on the ceiling or floor
  • Cracks on the ceiling 
  • Musty or damp odors
  • Wall peeling or bubbling paint 
  • Mold or mildew

Why Immediate Action Is Key

Severe water damage can rot a building’s foundation, rendering it inhabitable. Water damages everything from the insulation materials to framing, floors, and even electrical wiring. Such damage can be quite expensive to repair. 

The good news is that you can prevent this through comprehensive water damage restoration. This service involves hiring experts to manage water damage, restore your home, and prevent further damage. 

But what exactly happens during water damage restoration? This comprehensive guide shares all the steps, techniques, and best practices for managing water damage.

Water Removal vs Water Damage Restoration

Water removal vs water damage

Water removal is the party before the actual party. During this process, your home or business prepares for the full-throttle restoration process. Water removal typically involves: 

  • Fixing the source of the unwanted water.
  • Removing everything salvageable from the property. 
  • Cleaning up the damaged area.
  • Tarping off the rest of the property to prevent further water damage from spreading. 
  • Extracting water from the soft surfaces in the property, e.g. the carpeting. 


Water damage restoration, on the other hand, is the actual party. It involves taking the damaged property back to its pre-loss condition. Among other things, the water damage restoration experts will generally:

  • Use dehumidifiers to dry the property out. 
  • Cut out and fix the damaged sections of the drywall, if any. 
  • Replace carpeting and carpet paddings.
  • Apply antimicrobials to curb mold growth. 
  • Reconstruct broken or unsalvagable parts of the property.

Professional Water Damage Restoration

When you search for water damage restoration near me, you’ll find many water damage restoration experts in your area. But before jumping on the first option, it’s crucial to know what a good contractor should do.

First, a good restoration company will help you file claims with your insurance company. Keep in mind that damage could be due to fire or smoke damage; therefore, you need a company that can take care of that on your behalf.

Then, it’s paramount that this company consists of experts in the roofing, interior, and exterior construction fields. Typically, water damage usually results as a symptom of a certain structural problem; hence, you’ll need somebody who can get to the bottom of it.

The Step-by-Step Water Damage Restoration Process

Water damage restoration can begin only after all the standing water is drained from the property. This is done to contain and stop further damage and allows the restoration company to gauge the full extent of the damage. Then, the restoration process can begin.

1. Water Damage Assessment

After the water removal stage, a specialist visits your home to assess the leak. Even after the water has drained out, a specialist can easily identify and stop all loopholes, no matter how many there might be. 

Then, the expert can establish the water contamination category. Generally, there are 3 water contamination categories:

  1. Clean water damage: Clean water may come from leaky faucets, bathtubs, burst pipes, or rainwater from a leaky roof. This water is usually uncontaminated.
  2. Gray water damage: This is water from faulty water-using appliances such as dishwashers and washing machines. This water is contaminated by soaps and other cleaning chemicals. 
  3. Black water damage: This water can be from floods, septic tanks, or sewer backup. It’s often riddled with pathogens, toxins, and other contaminants. You should avoid damaged areas as these contaminants can pose serious health hazards.

Determining the Water Damage Class

Once the water contamination category is set, it’s time to determine the class of the water damage. There are four  classes of water damage:

  • Class 1: This class is for materials with a wet porous percentage of less than 5% on the surface. An example of these materials is concrete. Such materials have a negligible moisture absorption rate.
  • Class 2: This class is for materials with a wet porous percentage of between 5-40% on the surface. Examples of these materials are wood and plaster. Such materials have low a moisture absorption rate.
  • Class 3: This class is for materials with a wet porous percentage of over 40% on the surface. Gypsum boards are an example of these materials, as they have a slightly high moisture absorption rate.
  • Class 4: This class is for materials with a wet porous percentage of over 40% on the surface. Examples of these materials are carpets and fiber-fill insulation. Such materials have a significant moisture absorption rate.

2. Second Water Extraction

Some critical-condition items and materials in the home, such as carpets and rugs, may be salvageable. However, such items require extra water extraction. Water removal experts use portable extractors to drain the extra water that remains after the initial extraction.

3. Debris Removal

Some materials may be water-damaged beyond salvation. These have to be removed and discarded. Damaged drywall and carpet padding, on the other hand, may need to be removed to expose the amount of damage underneath. If the experts rule out possible structural damage in the first assessment, this step may not be necessary.

4. Home Dry Out

At this stage, experts dry out the indoor air using air movers and dehumidifiers. This process can take a few days or weeks, depending on the extent of damage. Moisture tests are then done to ensure that the property is 100% dry before proceeding to step five.

5. Antimicrobial Application

Water damage often precipitates fungal and mold growth. Mold starts growing within the first 24 hours of flooding. Applying antimicrobials is advisable during the restoration process, be it out of necessity or caution.

6. Building Back

This is the final step in the water damage restoration process, restoring your property to its pre-damage state. During this stage, the restoration team rebuilds and repairs all demolished or removed areas in the mitigation process.

Rebuilding the Structure

This is where the installation of new drywall takes place in case it becomes necessary to replace the damaged one. It involves taking the measurements of the area, cutting the drywall, and then securing the drywall panels before taping and mudding into the seams to create a smooth surface.

The other area to restore is the damaged flooring, be it hardwood, tile, or carpet. This will sometimes involve the subfloor too, if a good base needs to be secured for the new flooring.

Restoring Systems

Any electrical components that were damaged can be repaired or replaced. This may involve wiring and receptacles or switches. A plumbing system that was faulty will also be repaired. This may involve replacement of the damaged pipes, fittings, and fixtures to prevent future leaks, and any other problems associated with the smooth running of the system.

If necessary, the last aesthetic touches are painting the walls, ceilings, and trim the color of the existing decor. This will ensure an even blend of old and new materials.

7. Future-proofing

Professionals recommend sealing new wooden parts, especially flooring materials, to minimize the losses from possible future water damage. Alternatively, you may choose to replace materials susceptible to water damage with waterproof materials. 

For example, you may replace wood with tile or high-end vinyl. Caulking the toilets, sinks, and windows may also prevent costly leaks in the future, so you should always consider future-proofing your home to ensure safer living conditions for your home

Bonus Water Damage Cleanup Tips You Need to Know

Before an expert comes in to restore your property, these maintenance tips will come in handy:

  • Shut off the valve of your home’s main water supply line. This will stop possible leaks from the pipes, taps, or faucets. 
  • Ensure that your home’s electrical supply is off to prevent electrical hazards. 
  • Keep all electronic devices or appliances off if they’re water-damaged. This will stop possible further damage. 
  • Check for discoloration, dampness, or a musty smell. These could be signs of mold buildup. At this point, calling a professional restoration company is urgent. 
  • Salvage valuables such as electronics, furniture, and appliances are still in good condition.

Wrapping Up

Water damage restoration is important for many reasons. Water damage can cause serious structural damage or expose a serious structural problem. It eats into your property bit by bit until everything falls apart eventually.  So, don’t wait for your home to collapse on you. 

Water damage restoration experts can restore your property to its former glory by following all the steps outlined in this guide. So, protect your loved ones from the long-term health hazards of mold or bacteria buildup, and call in the experts today!

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