Water Damage: 5 Important Facts
Water Damage; sometimes it can be hard to see the forest for the trees.
Likewise, when you have water damage to your home from a backed up drain, burst pipe or some other kind of flood, it can be very hard to see past the mess.
You will have a ton of questions running through you mind, not the least of which being ‘What do I do now?’
Probably the most important question that needs to be answered sooner rather than later is:
‘Will my homeowner’s or renter’s insurance cover the damage?’
It is stressful to be in these types of situations when your possessions are cover in water and your floors and carpets and walls are soaked.
However, the more you know about these kinds of problems, the better off you will be and the easier it will be for you to address the issues at hand.
Here are five things that every homeowner should know when it comes to dealing with water damage.
1. As far as your insurance goes, flood damage is much different that water damage.
To the average person, water is water. It doesn’t really matter where it originated from, it still damaged your home and it still has to be cleaned up.
However, to an insurance company, a burst pipe and water damage from a flood are two different things and are handled in two different ways.
Flood damage is NOT covered under your normal homeowner’s insurance. In fact, if you live in an area that is likely to experience flooding or is a high flood risk, you will probably have a separate insurance policy through the National Flood Insurance Policy or NFIP.
When you first report water damage to your insurance company, make sure you specify if it is water damage or a flood so that they can adjust your claim properly.
It doesn’t do you any good to have your insurance company starting a claim for water damage only to find out later that it was actually a flood.
This will just delay your claim and confuse the issue. Be specific from the get go, and things will go much more smoothly.
2. Flooding aside, not all water damage will be covered by your insurance.
Sometimes you will find things that have been excluded within your insurance policy and it is a good idea to have looked it over in advance to find out anything that you are not covered for.
Most policies will cover sudden, more catastrophic damage such as an overflowing washing machine or a bad rainstorm.
However, they may not cover things that happened over time due to a lack of maintenance.
Gradual leaks can not only cause damage over time, but they can also cause a major problem all at once if they have been left unaddressed for a period of time. In other words, if you didn’t fix your roof that has been leaking for years on end, and all of a sudden the ceiling caves in due to water damage, you may not be covered.
Lack of maintenance is not an excuse that your insurance adjuster is likely to accept.
If you have some type of gradual leak, take care of it before it is too late.
3. Once water damage has occurred, the longer you wait to address it, the worse it becomes.
Once you have water damage, the clock is ticking.
You just can’t wait around before starting the cleanup. Mold and mildew will start growing in as little as 24-48 hours.
Mold spores are everywhere and all they need is moisture and a source of nutrients to grow. Wet carpet and wet drywall (sheetrock) is the perfect source for that.
As a rule of thumb, you’ve got 24-48 hours to address water damage or otherwise the mold will start to grow rapidly.
Once it becomes widespread, you will most likely need the service of a professional mold remediation service to treat and remove the mold.
So basically, you have got to get the area completely dried out within that 48-hour window or you are going to have problems that can damage the health of you and you loved ones.
You can get drying equipment and many water removal companies even have a 24-hour emergency hotline so that you can start recovering your property right away.
4. Call your insurance company immediately. Your insurance company needs to know right away.
Call them ASAP when you discover water damage to your home.
Not only will they start the claims process right away, but they can help guide you through what needs to be done and the steps that need to be taken to keep your property from being damaged even further.
Your insurance company will also have a list of water damage restoration companies and can help direct you to the best one available in your area.
Chances are, they have worked with various companies in the past, and will know which is the best one to deal with and which will take care of your issues in the most expedient manner.
5. Watch out for polluted water.
The level of pollution in the damage is very important.
If you have water damage that contains contaminated water there can be severe health risks.
If you have water damage from a clean source like a broken pipe or water line, it probably won’t present a huge danger to your health.
However, if you have something like sewage backup or water from an overflowing toilet, this type of water can and will be highly contaminated and you should leave the clean up to a professional company.
The restoration team will have to use more aggressive methods the more contaminated the water is and it may mean some of your furnishing, particularly the soft ones like carpet, may have to be thrown away for safety reasons.
You don’t want to dry out carpet that was submerged in highly contaminated water and then experience health problems later on because of it.