Hurricanes. Tornadoes. Flooding. Frozen pipes. Storms.
All of these will occur during the course of a year. All will cause major damage to dwellings and buildings. What is one of the major sources of damage- WATER. Water damage is caused by a variety of things including plumbing leaks, burst pipes and broken hoses, moisture ingress within a structure, clogged toilets, foundation cracks and leaking roofs. While the symptoms will be addressed by plumbers, roofers, foundation specialists and other tradesmen and tradeswomen, clean-up and remediation specialists have some of the toughest and potentially dangerous jobs to tackle to ensure a safe and functional dwelling or building. Before a building is considered safe, someone must disinfect affected areas, remove damaged or mold/mildew- contaminated items, properly dispose of the water-damaged items and then review and inspect areas to ensure that they’re safe.
So, what can we recommend to residents and occupants of the buildings that have significant (or even small levels of) water damage?
- Stop the flow of water.
- Turn off the power.
- Assess the conditions. Is it safe to stay in the building?
- Look for electrical hazards and “slip and fall” areas. Stay away from compromised areas.
- Get away if possible, but if you must stay, then only do activities that are absolutely necessary.
- Try not to lift wet materials. Water will add significant weight to any material that absorbs.
What can you recommend an owner do after flooding?
- Gather items from floors and low lying areas.
- Remove any excess water by mopping or blotting up the water with towels or absorbent material.
- Remove wet rugs and carpeting that can easily be removed.
- Remove any wet upholstery, cushions, pillows, blankets and dry them out
- Wipe excess water from furniture, cabinets, accessories
- Turn AC ON for maximum drying during the summer
What should you recommend an owner NOT do after flooding?
- Don’t use household appliances, televisions or any other electronic devices
- Don’t leave wet fabrics in place. Hang luxury items such as leather goods, furs and dresses.
- Do not use a vacuum cleaner (unless it’s a wet-dry vac) to remove moist or water from a room.
- Don’t leave colored items on a wet floor.
- Don’t turn on ceiling fans or lights if the ceiling is wet.
- Stay out of rooms where the ceiling is sagging.
After a homeowner or building occupant has taken the requisite steps to ensure his/her safety, then its time for the professional to come in and do their work. Professionals will use the following steps to assess and restore property following water damage:
- Initial contact and pre-inspection survey
- Inspection and water damage assessment
- Water removal and extraction
- Drying and dehumidification
- Cleaning and sanitizing
A fast response is crucial to prevent long term damage, sick-building syndrome and irreversible damage. While professionals are responsible and knowledgeable, sometimes little things that might be missed become critical to the successful remediation/restoration after water damage or flooding.
- Mold and Mildew are the ENEMIES. Protect yourself and building inhabitants by using the proper protective gear including body suits, gloves and masks or respirators. Contain the mold/mildew before trying to disinfect. Wrap your booties, pants and gloves with tape to ensure a good and proper seal of your body suit.
- Use environmentally-friendly antimicrobial and antibacterial treatments when you can. These will leave less of an impact to the inhabitants once the job is complete.
- Properly dispose of refuse. Bag the molded, damaged and soiled items in a thick plastic bag and twist the opening to form a goose-neck then seal the opening tightly with duct tape to ensure that the contents are secure and will not escape during transport to the landfill, preventing further contamination.
- Seal off the contaminated environment from the area that is not contaminated or is being used by the building inhabitants. Hang poly-sheeting, build airflow containment units and properly seal them off with strong polyethylene or cloth duct tape suitable for use in damp, moist environments. Innovative containment systems with pre-inserted zippers and doors are now available for ease of use.
Customers are now used to fast, reliable and almost instantaneous service. The e-commerce model used to obtain goods is now being applied to service as well. By offering easy “one-stop” access to water damage cleanup; easy contact, assessment, water removal, drying, cleaning, sanitizing and restoration; you will enhance your relationship with your customers and attract them to your business. Remember these tips when communicating potential water leakage and flooding issues with your customers and you will become their one-stop source providing solutions, not suggestions.