Water damage can come from the most unexpected of sources. Pipes can burst seemingly out of nowhere, flash floods can cause rising water levels that seep into your home and saturate your floors, and intrepid do-it-yourselfers with the best of intentions can inadvertently cause more harm than good in their plumbing adventures. Whatever the reason, water damage to your house is one of the hardest problems to recover from as a homeowner. When your items get saturated by water, they can be unrecoverable. Clean up is not as simple as opening up a door and letting the water evaporate, and even when the water is finally removed, you have the threat of mold and mildew hanging over you for months.
The problem of water damage is a serious one, and you will definitely need to call a plumber to help you as you analyze the effects. Some of the consequences may be as simple as drying out your items, but others may have more lasting and severe side effects. While you wait for the plumber to help you determine how serious the water damage is, though, there are a few things you can do to mitigate the destruction and begin the recovery process yourself.
Red Alert: Electricity and Water Do Not Mix
As soon as you notice water piling up in an area that has an electrical outlet or any type of wiring, the first thing you need to be concerned about is not the water damage – it’s the live electricity that is about to get hit. It’s dangerous, it’s deadly, and yes, it’s even way more important than the tons of water rushing out of your pipes at what seems like a million miles an hour. You will need to stop the electricity at the source, depending on the water leak. If it is a minor leak that is confined to one room, simply shutting off the circuit breaker for that room should be sufficient. However, extensive water damage causing flooding to more than one room requires more serious measures.
Immediate precautions should be taken to shut down the entire circuit panel, and then you will need to call the utility company that services your electricity and have them take out the electrical meter so that you can begin fixing the water damage issue. Never, ever walk into a room with standing water if you are unsure as to the status of the electricity in that room. When in doubt, call your plumber and an electrician to help you.
Plug the Water at the Source
Once you have addressed the electrical issue completely, then you can concentrate on stopping the source of the water leak. If it is obviously coming from your plumbing, you will need to quickly find the main shut-off valve in your home and turn it off completely. This is one of those things that you want to know about ahead of time, though. When you are already stressing because there is a significant amount of water spewing out of your plumbing, you do not want to be running around trying to find the shut-off valve. Often, this is either in your basement, outside hidden under a grate, or near the water meter. Trying to find it while water is escaping into your home can cost you precious minutes in which the damage can go from minor to major quickly.
After you have shut off the water or stemmed the flow of the leak, you can begin moving your important items out of harm’s way. Take photos as you do, as these may be necessary when you call your homeowner’s insurance to report your damage claim if you have a policy that covers water damage. Knowing the type of water that you have in your home can help you to quickly determine the cause of your flooding. “Clean water,” or water that looks relatively clear, can come from leaky pipes, condensation from a water source, or rain that has entered your home. This type of water is usually easy to clean up once you figure out where it is coming from and plug the leak.
Gray water that looks a little dirty usually comes from your appliances. It may be draining from your dishwasher or your washing machine, or it might even be coming from your toilet. If you have this kind of leak, it is best not to try to remove it unless you have safety gear that can protect you from any chemicals or other contaminants that may be in the water. If your water is dark or black, though, you probably have a major issue somewhere. It could be a sewage pipe that burst or outside flooding. No matter the source, the darker the water, the more you need to stay away from it. This kind of water usually contains multiple types of unhealthy contaminants like waste and bacteria. The more you are exposed to it, the more serious the health problems that you can end up with.
Don’t play around with this dangerous water damage. Let the experts clean it up for you, since they are trained in handling the hazards of this type of water and the residual problems that it leaves behind even after it’s gone.
Get Assistance Quickly
Water damage problems are not something that should be dealt with by someone who does not have the knowledge to handle them. You may be able to remove the water, but there are many opportunities for mistakes or missed steps to be made along that way that can result in significant problems down the line. Instead of trying to fix it all yourself, you should call an expert plumber. If you are in the Long Beach area then you should call us right away. We are ready to help right away in the event of a plumbing emergency.
As you wait for your help to arrive, you can begin the process of drying out the water yourself if you feel comfortable doing so. First, open all of your windows and doors if possible in the areas that have had water damage. This allows the water to evaporate quicker and helps you to avoid quick-growing mold. If possible, use fans to blow the damp air out the window or doors. If you have a wet/dry shop vac, you can use it to begin sucking up some of the water and dumping it outside. In the case of a flood, you may not be able to open your doors or transport the water. Try to limit the damage as much as possible by moving salvageable items out of reach of the problem areas.
Waterlogged or damaged possessions should be removed from the home and sorted into piles – those you want to keep and try to fix, and those that are beyond saving and need to be thrown away. Be sure to take pictures of all of the damaged items to give to your insurance company.
Don’t Stop Being Vigilant
All of these steps need to be done within the first 12 to 24 hours of signs of water damage, but the effects of the water can last much longer. You must stay on the alert for signs of mold and mildew. Mold thrives in warm, moist areas, so with the right conditions it can begin to grow within 24 hours of your leak. If the damage is caused in an area like your attic, the mold could already be growing and spreading. When you have a mold problem, you need to take it very seriously. It can spread into your air vents, causing you to breathe it every day. There are some types of mold that can make you sick, but others are toxic and can even kill you.
Mold can grow in obvious areas, or hidden areas that you can’t see, like inside walls and in attic insulation. That is why you must remain vigilant for months after your home is exposed to water damage. If you find mold in your home after water damage has been done, you need to remove the material that the mold is growing on and throw it away. If the damage is widespread, you should get out of the room or the home quickly and bring in a professional to eliminate the problem.
Recovering From Your Disaster: Help is on the Way
Water damage is every homeowner’s nightmare, but it does not have to be as bad as you think. When you act carefully and quickly, you can prevent the damage from becoming catastrophic. Stop the electricity in the room first, then stop the source of the water if you can. Remove immediate items in the vicinity that can’t be replaced and call your homeowner’s insurance. Don’t forget to take pictures of the damage as you are going through the recovery process.
While you are trying to salvage what you can of your possessions, contact your professional Long Beach plumbers at GM Plumbing Corporation for immediate advice and quick help to fix your plumbing problems.