Water Damage Tips and Advice
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Water Damage Advice and Tips

Water Removal

From a pipe burst to a backed up toilet... water damage stinks.

Here's a Few Guidlines and Frequently Asked Questions in Regards to Water Damage

Furniture, clothes, electronics, important documents, keepsakes, appliances, medical equipment – we know your personal property means a lot to you. After all, it’s what turns a house into a home. That’s why Clarke Contractors specializes in restoring contents damaged by fire, water, mold and smoke. And because we approach every job with a “restore” versus “replace” mindset, we keep costs down while saving your precious keepsakes.

  1. Find the Source - Water damage can come from many places. Roofs, walls, floors, attics and foundations are some common areas. Appliance malfunctions such as a broken water heater, washing machine or refridgerator can also be the source of water damage. Sometimes you may not be able to find the source of the water. Regardless, see next step...
  2. Do what you can until help arrives - Take any necessary actions to help prevent water accumilation / saturation and damage. Soak up standing water as you are able with towels or even blankets. If the water damge is coming from a plumbing issue, you may need to shut off your home's water supply.
  3. Find a great water restoration company - Find a reliable water restoration company in your area. When looking for a water damage / restoration company, here are some factors to consider... How long have they been in business? Do they have good online reviews for their service? Do they have a BBB rating? Do they offer emergency service? Do they offer clean-up and repair? Do they offer a warranty?

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Water Damage FAQs

Does Insurance Cover Water Damage?

Most homeowners insurance policies will help cover water damage. There are exceptions. For example if your damage is caused by an ongoing mainteance issue or if the damage is the result of a water backup from an outside sewer or drain. Separate flood insurance is required to make a claim for floods from water surges originating from rivers, ponds, lakes or oceans.

It's always best to confirm with your agent what is and what isn't covered before a water event happens. Asking questions like "Is my basement covered for water damage if my sump pump fails?" will help clarify if additional insurance is necessary or if covered through traditional homeowners.

Water insurance claim

What is Black Water, Water Damage?

One of the most dangerous losses that can occur at your home is a raw sewage back-up. Unlike small fires, wind damage or clean water floods, most of the damage can be cleaned or repaired on these types of losses. With raw sewage or what the standards call category 3 water loss, nothing can be saved.

Raw sewage is mainly gray or black water. It usually contains the organic waste and wastewater produced by household and industrial sources. Sewage typically contains everything from soap to solid waste, human excrement and debris. It is discharged by drains and sewer lines.

The IICRC S500 (Standard) defines category 3 loss as follows...

Category 3 water is referred to as “Black Water”. Black water contains pathogenic agents and is grossly unsanitary. Black water includes sewage and other contaminated water sources entering or affecting the indoor environment.

There are millions of different types of bacteria in sewage that include, but not limited to E coli, gastroenteritis and cryptosporidiosis. Most of those affected suffer stomach cramps and diarrhea, but untreated sewage can also spread horrible diseases such as cholera and hepatitis. Studies have indicated that one million people a year become ill as a direct result of sewer related problems.

Black water loss

Pipe Burst? Here's what to do...

A pipe bursts or leaky hose can be tricky because they can happen in an unseen areas like behind a wall or in a cabinet or ceiling. When you do notice the damage you will need to act fast to prevent extensive damage to your property. A fast response to a burst pipe can save additional costs to restore your home or business back to its original condition.

Here are steps to take for a pipe burst:

  1. Turn off electricity, or call an electrician to turn off electric if needed
  2. Turn off the water source
  3. Salvage property contents if possible and move to dry area
  4. Call a damage restoration company to remove any standing water and dryout and sanitize effected area before mold or mildew grows
  5. Document all structual and content damage for insurance reference
  6. Repair and Restore any damaged structures
Pipe Burst

Basement Flood? Here's what to do...

Heavy rain, a pipe burst or faulty appliance can quickly turn your basement into wet mess. It is important to act quickly to find the source of the water and if possible, stop the flooding. Try to clean and dry what you can to protect structures and content from water damage and potential mold growth.

Top 3 Must-Dos for a Flooded Basement

  1. Contact a Water Damage Specialist - Some water removal and restoration companies (like Clarke Contractors) will not only remove the water, clean, dry and sanitize the area but can likely also repair what caused the flood or leak. Find a restoration business with a good reputation and fast response time.
  2. Call Your Insurance - Review your responsibilities under your policy for preventing additional damage.
  3. Document / Take Pictures - It's a good idea to take pictures and document the damage for insurance purposes.
  4. Wait for Help - When the restoration company arrives they will evaluate and determine equipment needed to begin the restoration process. The equipment may include water extractors, air movers and dehumidifiers. The process typically involves water removal, dry-out, cleaning and disinfecting, then repair and restoring to before damaged condition.
Basement Flooded

Mold After Water Damage - What to Look For

In the restoration business, one of the most common concerns encountered after water damage is the growth of mold. There are many different causes and warning signs that may help you identify without giving out the slightest of clues to their presence until they are well established. The more times they get to develop and grow, the bigger the problem becomes to both your personal heath and your property.

It is important to be able to identify and remove molds as soon as possible. Here are some warning signs you should know and be alert for.

Mold Triggers and Indicators:

  1. Humidity - Humidity is the prime factor for mold growth. It is recommended to keep humidity within the 30% to 50% range. Humidity above 60% creates the right conditions for molds to settle down and grow.
  2. Water Leaks - Leaks pertaining to roofs, pipes, rainwater pipes, plumbing systems, or small cracks on walls, windows or doors that let water penetrate in are dangerous. Mold needs moisture in order to grow and thrive. Many mold problems originate as a result of some kind of water intrusion, especially those that are not resolved quickly. If such leaks exist in your home, molds and mildews have probably already entered. Therefore as soon as you detect a leak, have it repaired.
  3. Damp Carpet - If your carpets, small or wall to wall, get wet somehow, you will need to take immediate action to get them dried. Spills, leaks, or pets can make your carpet wet. If you generally leave carpets to dry naturally, chances are good that mold has grown on the other side of the carpet. There are professional cleaning products that can clean carpets and prevent mold contamination.
  4. Stains - If you are noticing ugly spots around the kitchen sink, bathroom walls, bathtub and other areas in your house, chances are high that you have mold. Yellowish stains on walls and ceilings are a sign of excessive moisture. Molds are microscopic, but when mold forms colonies, they appear as ugly spots on the surface and may have a greenish, brownish or blackish discoloration to them. Prominent specks on the walls mean molds are in evidence and you may need to get a professional to inspect to find out other places in your house of contamination.
  5. Flooding - Mold infestation is very common after a flood. If the ground floor and basement of any building remains under water for a long period of time, it will take a long time for that area to dry out entirely, even when the water is drained or removed from the area. You need to be careful and start having the damaged area treated, even when there is no sign of mold infestation.
  6. Musty Odor - A musty odor is the most concrete proof of mold contamination. Molds produce VOC, Volatile Organic Compounds, which are responsible for the smell. When molds infect items, the objectionable smell alerts you about mold infestation. Musty odor is often the first indication of mold growth that you will actually observe. Mold removal and mitigation should help get rid of the offending odor.
  7. While mold growth can cause damage to your property and health, it is a problem that can be recognized and corrected. Depending on the extent of the mold growth and locations of infiltration, fixing the problem can be as simple as a mild treatment to the areas or the removal and replacement of the affected areas. Clarke Contractors is a certified mold mitigation company.

Mold after water damage

What is Ice Damming?

In colder months, ice damming is a common cause of cause water damage to walls, ceilings and insulation. Ice dams are formed when the heat from the inside of a home escapes into the attic and warms the roof decking in the winter. This heat, along with the heat from the sun, can melt the snow on the roof. This melting snow then runs down to the eaves, where there is no attic heat, and refreezes. The continual thaw and refreeze process creates ice dams at the edges of the roof and into the gutters. The result is water backing up under the roof shingles or behind the fascia boards where it soaks through the roof decking or wall sheathing causing water damage to attics, ceilings and walls.

Ice Dam Example

How to Prevent Ice Damming

There are three ways to defend against ice dams: insulation, ventilation and water proofing shingle underlayment. Each of the above will work together to keep ice damming and the damage it creates in check.

  1. Insulation keeps heat from escaping from your homes living space into your attic. Insulation levels are recommended by the geographic zone you may live in and are measured in R-values. R-value is the resistance to heat flow of a material. The higher the R-value, the greater the insulating power. If your home was built before 1980, chances are it needs more insulation or R-value to meet today’s standards.
  2. Ventilation removes the heat from your attic and helps keep the roof deck evenly cool to help prevent snow from melting on the roof. It is important to have ventilation in the attic so any heat lost from the interior of the home is drawn up and out of the attic. A properly designed ventilation system will have both intake vents in the soffits or eaves at the lower portion of the attic, as well as exhaust ventilation, such as ridge vents or turtle vents, at the high portions of the attic.
  3. Waterproofing shingle underlayment, or ice shield, is laid across the roof before roof shingles are installed. This ice shield will prevent leaks from dams that do form on the roof. With existing roofs, waterproofing shingle underlayment is only an option if you are removing the existing shingles and installing new ones.
Ice Damming

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