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Principles of Water Damage Restoration

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The following is a break down of what is considered when completing a water damage restoration project.

What to be aware of when dealing with water damaged buildings and materials

It is important to be aware of some of the risks associated with water damage to buildings and materials such as carpet and flooring. Risks may relate to the spread of and exposure to microbial contaminants especially with wet carpet, electrical shock and exposure to hazardous materials such as asbestos. It can be easy to think that the biggest problem is drying a water damaged property however it is clear that there are other secondary risks that may be associated with a water loss.

Water Damage Restoration Procedure

For successful remediation (whether it be wet carpet, hard flooring or any other kind of water damage to property) it is important to ensure proper inspections and documentation occurs throughout the entire process. This includes the initial inspection where moisture levels and recordings should be taken to gain a better understanding of what will be required to dry a property successfully. Some of these steps are also useful when making an insurance claim such as establishing the source of the water intrusion, the extent of the water loss and determining what has been affected because of the water damage. By also completing a thorough initial inspection it allows for a more detailed and effective drying environment to be established. Ongoing inspections are also vital as it allows the restorer to ensure that the drying of the water damaged property and contents is being completed in an effective manner. Once the restorer believes a water damage project is complete it is important to complete a final inspection to ensure drying standards are met.

Having now considered the risks of water damage and importance of inspections and documentation, it is now time to consider the goals when dealing with drying of carpets and other water damage to properties.

A goal that should always be kept in mind is to mitigate further damage. This means that steps should be taken to contain the initial damage that occurred from the water loss. A very basic example of this would be to stop the water intrusion if it is still occurring. This step also involves identifying all areas that were affected by the water damage as in many cases water will flow to many areas that are not visible to the naked eye. It is understandable when flooding occurs to think that flooring such as wet carpet is the only issue that needs to be addressed. However, the water damage can extend to the sub-flooring such as concrete slabs, skirting boards, walls, ceilings and other structural materials. As such it is essential to investigate the water damage properly and ensure a thorough drying environment is established.  Another step of mitigating water damage is to ensure that contaminants or microbial bacteria are not spread throughout the process. This involves containing and removing these hazards in a controlled environment.

Cleaning should occur throughout the entire drying process. Cleaning may be required initially, for example wet carpet that is beyond repair may require disposal, water damaged underlay needs to be removed, debris from wet ceilings and walls may also need to be removed. This is important as it can quicken the drying process and assist in avoiding secondary damages. Another important step of cleaning is when the drying process has been completed. It is important to restore a water damaged property to pre-loss conditions. Throughout the drying process many unavoidable messes occur. These may come from dust and debris being spread from the drying process, water damage to painted surfaces such as walls and ceilings, debris from wet plasterboard and so on. It is important to monitor these issues and clean as appropriate.

Now to examine the most important step, drying. A thorough understanding of how wet materials can be dried is essential in successfully restoring flood damage to properties. One of the most important steps in the drying process is the extraction of excess standing water. A thorough initial extraction of water can greatly reduce the time taken to dry a water damaged property. In fact around 90% of water and moisture can be removed from this first step so this should give you an idea of how important it is. It is the remaining 10% of moisture, strangely enough, that takes the most effort and time to remove. This remaining moisture is what can lead to mould and odour and requires specific industrial equipment (don’t be fooled into thinking a wet-vac can solve your problems!). This involves knowledge of principles of evaporation, dehumidification, temperature control and ventilation and a thorough understanding of drying machinery. As discussed earlier thorough inspections and documentation greatly assist in this process.  By continually inspecting the water damaged property, adjustments to the drying process can be made. For example it may be determined that the evaporation rate is too low and as such more machinery may be required and greater temperature control in order to assist in this process. Conversely a project may be drying at a rapid rate and as such equipment may be gradually removed to be cost-effective and minimize disruption.

You may be forgiven for thinking that once drying of a property and contents is complete so is the job. This is often not the case however. When assessing a water loss, it is important to prioritize the drying as this will greatly reduce the chance of significant further or secondary damage. Through the drying process there may be repairs that will be required once the drying stage is complete. A great example of this is when water flows through the flooring and under cabinets and cupboards. In these instances, it may be required to cut or drill out sections to allow for air-flow and evaporation to occur. Once the drying of these sections is complete they will obviously need to be repaired to a pre-loss state. Many building materials such as skirting or other wood sections are also prone to swelling when affected by water. Upon completion of the drying stage these should be examined and either replaced or repaired as needed. Other repairs often needed are plastering of ceilings and walls that have been damaged as water flowed through them.

So in summary completing a water damage restoration project involves significantly more than simply drying out the property and materials. Knowledge of risks that may occur, focus on documentation and inspections to ensure effective drying, high priority of mitigating further damage, being aware of cleaning processes and any repairs that will be required after the drying stage is complete are all vital in a successful project. For these reasons it is important to engage  a professional like Kleen-Tech who have over twenty years of industry experience.