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How NOT to Clean Water Damage!

August 6, 2019

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Water damage in the home is often more serious than homeowners realize, as water is absorbed quickly by drywall, floorboards, and wood framing, leading to damage and eventual mold growth. Mildew can also form under carpets and carpet padding within days after a flood, creating bothersome odors!

To clean water damage at home, avoid these common mistakes:

  1. Using household vacuum cleaners
  2. Relying on baking soda to absorb water
  3. Scrubbing stained areas
  4. Using air fresheners to mask odors
  5. Forgetting to get pictures for an insurance claim

Immediate and efficient water removal is vital for protecting your home from long-term damage and for reducing the risk of mold growth. A homeowner might also consider mold remediation services after their house has suffered water damage, to monitor the home for growing mold and ensure it’s removed as quickly as possible.

If you live in an area prone to strong storms and heavy rains and especially if you live in a coastal region where flooding is commonplace, note some information about how to clean water damage in the home. It’s also helpful to consider what to avoid during the cleanup process as well!  You might also benefit from some tips on how to avoid water damage and keep your home protected from flooding, and some signs that it’s best to leave water damage cleanup and repair to the pros.

water removal service

How NOT to Clean Water Damage

Before your home goes through a flood or suffers water damage for any reason, note some vital tips on what to avoid during the cleanup and some mistakes many homeowners make as well. This will ensure you don’t actually make water damage worse or forget any important steps when it comes to residential water repair and restoration.

  • Never use a household vacuum cleaner to remove water after a flood. Water damages a vacuum cleaner’s hoses and belts and creates a soppy mess in the bag or canister! Household vacuum cleaners are also too weak to remove water absorbed by carpeting, carpet padding, and other surface materials in the home.
  • Baking soda might absorb some water on the surface of a home’s carpet or floorboards but is also ineffective at pulling up water absorbed by carpet fibers and padding and water that has seeped into the pits and pores of wood flooring.
  • Scrubbing stained areas of carpet, wood floors, drywall, and other surfaces often pushes water and residues into those materials! It’s also easy to damage carpet fibers, wood flooring and it coatings, wall paint, water damaged plaster, and other materials with a stiff scrub brush.
  • Spraying air fresheners might offer some temporary relief from the smell of mold, mildew, and other contaminants, but that relief will be just temporary! Also, if you notice a musty smell in the home after a flood, this often indicates the growth of unhealthy mold or mildew and those materials should be cleaned properly so that they don’t continue to grow and spread.
  • After a flood your first priority is, of course, your safety and the safety of your family and pets; never walk through floodwaters and especially if they’re near electrical outlets or devices. However, you do want to get whatever pictures of your home are possible before water damage cleanup and restoration, as proof of the extent of damage for a potential claim on your homeowner’s insurance.

Tips on Cleaning Residential Water Damage

Now that you know some things to avoid when it comes to water damage cleanup in the home, note some added tips for ensuring your home is clean and safe after a flood.

  • Do whatever you can to cut off the source of flood even if it seems that floodwaters are receding. Your home’s carpet, drywall, and other materials could just be absorbing that water! For floods caused by plumbing fixtures, shut off the home’s main water valve. Block gaps along doorways with thick towels to stop outside floodwaters.
  • Invest in a good sump pump to remove standing and excess water. Trying to remove water manually is often messy and more physically challenging than you might realize! A sump pump can also run throughout the night, making quicker and easier work of removing large amounts of water.
  • Floodwaters often contain harmful bacteria and especially water from an overflowing toilet or shower drain, broken dishwasher, or overflowing septic tank. Even rainwater can wash harmful residues into your home! Use bleach-based or other cleansers designed to kill germs and bacteria and wear protection gear when performing DIY water damage cleanup.
  • It’s also good to avoid using indoor fans during the cleanup process as they might spread those contaminants around your home! Aim fans at a water-damaged area rather than out a window, to help that area dry quickly without spreading germs.
  • Proper extraction is essential for water damage cleanup. A heavy-duty wet/dry shop vacuum will extract water from underneath carpet fibers, although it’s still advisable to pull up that carpeting and ensure the floorboards under it are dried thoroughly.
  • Carpet padding also needs proper drying and sanitizing, to avoid the growth of mildew. If foam padding has already started to disintegrate, it needs replacing and not just drying.
  • Get pictures of the damage throughout the cleanup and restoration process. Never assume that any detail is unimportant, as added pictures of damaged carpeting and its underlying padding, broken sections of a room’s ceiling, sediment lining the walls and other such damaged areas can help an adjuster understand the extent of damage and costs involved in your cleanup efforts.
commercial water damage

When to Call a Local Water Damage Cleanup Service

It’s vital that you rely on professional water damage cleanup services when needed, to ensure your home is safe for occupation and to reduce the risk of damage to surface materials. You need to call a water damage restoration and repair company for floods caused by burst plumbing pipes, backed up shower drains and overflowing toilets, and other plumbing fixtures, to ensure proper cleanup of sewage, food debris, and other harmful waste.

If it’s obvious that drywall, the home’s subflooring, and other materials that are difficult to access and clean have absorbed water, call a water damage cleanup company. Their technicians will have the tools and equipment needed to remove that water and keep your home safe structurally. A trained water damage cleanup restoration contractor will also know when materials are damaged beyond repair and need replacing instead.

If you’ve attempted DIY water damage cleanup and notice a musty smell in the home or if interior spaces seem overly humid and clammy, your house probably needs water cleanup services. Your DIY efforts might have been ineffective at removing all standing water and for preventing mold and mildew growth, and a professional water damage restoration company will be able to finish the job properly.

It’s also vital that you never risk your safety and leave water damage cleanup to professionals if water is near an electrical outlet, if there are electrical appliances in the water, if an outside storm causing the flood has downed power lines as well, or if you notice any sewage and other such strong odors. Trying to manage water cleanup and repairs in those conditions can be hazardous if not downright deadly! If you have any doubts or questions regarding your safety, call a water cleanup company rather than attempting DIY cleanup.

How to Avoid Water Damage in the Home

A homeowner can take many steps to protect their home from plumbing emergencies and outside floodwaters, reducing the risk of water damage and needed repairs. Note a few tips you might consider when it comes to avoiding water damage in the first place, or at least minimizing that damage as much as possible.

  • If you live in an area prone to strong storms and heavy rainfall, be alert to flood warnings. You can even download a weather alert app to your phone, or make it a point to check online weather forecasts every day. If you’re alerted to a potential flood, you’ll have more time to protect your home from damage!
  • If there is the risk of flooding in the area, roll up thick towels and push them up against doorframes, to seal off that gap and block floodwater.
  • Invest in a good sump pump and have it at the ready during flood seasons. Test it a few other times throughout the year, to ensure it’s in good working order and ready to remove floodwaters.
  • Keep your home’s plumbing in good condition, to avoid the risk of a burst pipe, backup, overflowing toilet, and so on. Have a plumber clean out the pipes every year or as often as recommended.
  • During wintertime, keep a faucet dripping at all times, to avoid the risk of a frozen and then burst pipe.
  • When you do note plumbing issues in the home, have those problems addressed quickly; a small water leak can result in major water damage if left unchecked, as well as resultant mold growth!
water cleanup

Related Questions

Should carpet be replaced after water damage?

Only a water damage cleanup expert can note if your home’s carpet needs replacing after a flood. In many cases, a professional cleaning restores carpet efficiently, while layers of waste and sediment and other damage might indicate the need for new carpeting. Discussing your concerns with a water damage expert or a water mitigation company maybe be advisable.

How long does it take for mold to grow after water damage?

In dark and damp places, mold might require no more than 24-48 to develop and then spread. If you suspect mold growth after water damage in your home, call a mold cleanup and restoration expert immediately.

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