Commercial Water Damage: Key Steps to Recovery and Prevention

Commercial Water Damage

Commercial water damage can be a devastating event for any business. It not only disrupts operations but also poses significant risks to the building, its contents, and the occupants. The recovery and prevention process involves understanding the potential hazards, mitigating the damage, and implementing plans to prevent future occurrences.

Step 1: Identifying the Risks

Electrical Hazards

The first step in managing commercial water damage is recognizing potential dangers. One of the most critical risks is electrical hazards. These can occur when water comes into contact with power strips, junction boxes, light fixtures, and fire alarm systems. To prevent electrical accidents, power to the affected areas should be immediately shut down at the circuit breaker panel if it is safe to do so. A professional electrician should be contracted to inspect the damage and ensure the area is safe from electrical shocks.

Slip Hazards

Another risk associated with commercial water damage is slip and fall hazards. These are prevalent in water-damaged facilities. To minimize these risks, removing water rapidly, posting appropriate warning signs, and restricting access to damaged areas is crucial.

HVAC System Contamination

The HVAC system is another area of concern during a water damage event. If the HVAC system is affected by moisture, it could result in poor air quality and potential exposure risks. A qualified HVAC professional should evaluate the system after a water damage event, and a certified firm should clean the associated ductwork.

Bacterial Contamination

The type of water involved in the damage also plays a significant role in the potential risks. Category 1 water damage (clean water) presents fewer immediate health risks. However, Category 2 (contaminated water) and Category 3 (severely contaminated water, like sewage) pose serious health risks due to bacteria, viruses, and other harmful pathogens.

Step 2: Mitigating Commercial Water Damage

The second step in managing commercial water damage is mitigation. This involves removing excess water, identifying salvageable and non-salvageable materials, pinpointing areas that pose technical drying challenges, and establishing a restoration plan for demolition and drying. The ultimate goal is to dry the structure with as little demolition as possible and to minimize operational downtime.

Octagon Cleaning & Restoration is the best choice for commercial water damages in Maine & New Hampshire. They are the regional experts to turn to when you need water damage appropriately handled.

Having a Water Damage Cleanup Process in Place

Having a water damage cleanup process in place is essential for successful recovery. Effective communication throughout the process can ensure a smooth recovery. This includes communication with facility management, subcontractors, and water mitigation technicians.

All steps should be thoroughly documented, including photos, notes, and moisture mapping. Most progressive companies have some disaster emergency response plan in place. This plan should detail the building’s mechanical information, electrical layouts and shut-offs, water shutoffs, location of critical documents, staging areas, and contact information for key employees and contractors. This plan should also detail any items the tenant or building owner deems essential. This could include computers, art, electronics, furniture and more.

Step 3: Preventing Future Water Damage

Prevention is always better than cure. Therefore, it’s crucial to prevent future water damage events. Here are some measures that can be taken:

Protect Your Water Pipes

To prevent pipes from freezing and bursting, use a backup generator or woodstove to keep the building warm in case of a power outage. Make sure to seal doors and windows to keep the heat inside and insulate openings in the attic, like vents and plumbing stacks.

Prevent Ice Dams

Ice dams can cause significant damage by preventing melted snow from draining properly, leading to water seepage into walls, ceilings, and insulation. To prevent this, keep gutters and downspouts clean, trim trees around the building’s edges, add insulation above the ceiling to increase roof ventilation and inspect the roof’s drainage regularly.

Check Your Roof’s Load-Bearing Capacity

Most roofs can support 20 pounds per square foot of snow, but this can vary. Steeper roofs tend to accumulate less snow. Flat areas, like over a porch, should be given extra attention. If removing snow yourself, never use a ladder. Instead, use a snow rake and remove snow from the ground for safety.

Be Cautious with Alternative Heat Sources

Alternative heat sources like non-electric heaters can be handy during power outages or to keep heating bills low. However, they should be kept clean, placed away from flammable items, and maintained properly to prevent fires.

Acting Quickly in Case of Water Damage

In case of water damage, it’s crucial to act fast. Quick action can minimize the damage and the costs associated with it. It can also minimize the business downtime. 

Octagon Cleaning & Restoration are the local emergency water restoration experts that insurance professionals, property managers, commercial building owners, and homeowners count on to handle even the most challenging jobs. They are proud members of the Better Business Bureau and are IICRC-certified.

In conclusion, the process of restoring a commercial building after water damage involves identifying the risks, mitigating the damage, and implementing preventative measures. Having a plan and working with qualified experts is crucial to ensure a timely and effective recovery.