EMERGENCY WATER REMOVAL AND CLEANUP SERVICES
If it happens to you – and statistically, that is likely – knowing who to call and in what order can be extremely stressful. This is particularly true if the situation is getting worse or provides an immediate danger.
The best course of action is to plan in advance. Since you’re unlikely to want to call around various companies to get quotes while your home is filling up with water, a proper plan will save vital time when the worst happens.
This guide is designed to help in that process. Think of it as a ‘plan for the worst; hope for the best’ guide. It’ll go through the most important questions you need to ask and the key preparation you can do in advance of any emergency, such as a flooded basement. That way, when the worst does happen, you can react quickly, efficiently, and safely.
CHOOSING AN EMERGENCY FLOOD SERVICE & RESTORATION COMPANY
By far the most important step you can take in advance of any water emergency is to plan which emergency flood and restoration company to use. If the emergency is localized (i.e. caused by a burst pipe or a fault with one of your appliances), knowing which company to call can save you valuable time. If the emergency is not localized (such as with a flood) then you’ll be able to get help faster by knowing in advance what company to call.
Below is a checklist of what you should look for when assessing flood service and restoration companies. There are a lot of companies out there that offer these services, so make sure you find the one that’s absolutely right for you.
Check their credentials
All good restoration companies invest in training their staff or their franchisees. Be sure to ask what training they receive and what accreditation or credentials they receive. Ideally, these credentials should be issued by a third party (i.e. not from the company itself). The business itself should also be certified by a national body or part of a reputable trade organization.
The key certification that anyone should have is an IICRC certification. This is issued by the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration and acts as the nationwide accreditation body for professionals in this area. Not only will this guarantee that the individual or company knows the proper use of all equipment, but it also shows that they have invested the time and effort into improving their craft.
Works with insurance
Ideally, whatever home emergency you have, it will be covered by your home insurance (if you don’t have insurance, your first priority is to buy it. Choosing a restoration service that will work with your insurance is crucial to not only reduce your out-of-pocket expenses but also your stress. Check in advance that your insurance will work with a given provider (and vice versa) or you could be left with a nasty surprise! A good place to start is to speak to your insurer about a list of local providers.
Although it’s unlikely that an insurance-recommended provider with up-to-date certification is not a good service, you need to be sure. Companies get bought out, or over-extend, and so it’s always worth checking recent references. The best way to do this is to look at a company’s online reviews. Be sure to only check reviews of the local branch (i.e. not the whole nationwide company) and also factor in that there are always some people who don’t like a service: don’t expect perfect reviews, just very good ones!
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN I HAVE A WATER DAMAGE EMERGENCY?
Once you’ve got your company lined up, and you know who you’ll call when disaster strikes, you also need to be ready for what will likely happen. There are three main short-term steps to the process:
The company will send a representative round to inspect the nature and scope of the damage. The first priority will be to make the space safe. If the flooding has come into contact with electrical wiring, there may be additional steps to make it safe, but the professional will be best-placed to handle the situation (so don’t try and ‘get things ready’ for their arrival – if you’ve hired a professional, let them take care of it). They may turn the power off to your home.
Once the space is safe, they will conduct a full inspection of the affected area. They may use moisture sensors and meter to ascertain how far the water has permeated into walls, ceilings, carpets and so on. This whole process will allow them to determine how extensive the damage is, and the best next steps.
REMOVING STANDING WATER
The priority after the inspection is to remove any of the standing water. Until this is totally complete, no further work can take place. This may also be an important diagnostic step, as it will allow the professional to determine the origins of the leak or flood. If the leak is from an appliance, a drain, or a pipe, the professional will be able to either fix the leak, or otherwise. work out how to stem the flow of water.
The professional will have access to industrial-level equipment, such as heavy-duty water pumps for removing large amounts of standing water. In other cases, water vacuums, brooms, or buckets may suffice.
PREVENT FURTHER DAMAGE
Once the standing water is gone, the professional will get the area to a stage where no further damage is taking place. If not, the extent of the cleanup (i.e. the times and costs involved) will grow. Removing the standing water is only the first stage of this.
The water removal expert will advise on the use of dehumidifiers, ventilation, as well as which furniture to remove from the area. In some cases, the professional may hang plastic sheeting with heaters underneath to aid in the evaporation of the water.
In very extreme cases, you may need to remove baseboards or drill holes in your wall or floor to allow it to dry properly. You will almost certainly need to raise part of the carpet (maybe placing a fan underneath). These steps are all crucial in terms of preventing lasting water damage and inhibiting the spread of mold in your home.
The goal of a water removal expert is to leave your home in a state that no further damage can occur. Then the real cleanup process begins over the next few days.
WHAT ARE THE LONG-TERM FLOOD CLEANUP STEPS?
Once the immediate damage is over, the cleanup company will begin with the long-term steps to eliminate all evidence that there was ever a problem. Although this, naturally, depends on what type of damage you experienced,
THE GENERAL STEPS ARE AS FOLLOWS:
Depending on the severity of the water damage, the cleanup company will take readings to determine how well the drying process is taking place. They will use their meters to objectively analyze the amount of water in walls and other surfaces. They will also monitor the potential for mold growth.
Many types of water damage contain biohazards, which means that you need extensive sanitization of the area. This will also inhibit mold growth. Although not technically part of the sanitization process, deodorizing usually comes at the same time, removing odors from the space.
Repairs and reconstruction
If you have damage to your ceilings, walls, or floors, the affected sections may need to be removed. The restoration company will be able to fill in the removed areas (as well as any holes that they drilled to aid in the drying process). Some restoration companies will handle this themselves, whereas others may subcontract out the work.
In the case of more advanced issues, such as furniture that was damaged, this will be outside of the remit of a restoration company; they will most likely be able to refer you to a professional who can help.
Assuming you did your research in the earlier stages of this process, you are working with a company that can liaise directly with your insurance company. Some restoration companies send their invoices directly to the insurance company, so you never need to see a bill.
Otherwise, you’ll need to make the payment yourself and get reimbursement through insurance. If you’re working with a reputable company, this should not be a problem, other than the insurance company often taking a while to process the payment. At this point, your home should be as good as it was pre-water damage.
More than 98% of homes in basements will experience some level of water damage throughout their lifetime.
The extent and severity of this damage naturally varies from minor leakage to a full flood. In either scenario, being prepared is crucial. A fundamental part of that preparation is the ability to call in a team of professionals to do the job correctly. In case of emergency, you want to be reassured that you’ve got the right team on the job.