Proper water damage mitigation and clean-up are essential to save your home or business after flooding, ice dams, or burst pipes. In each of these cases, the damage can be extensive and can include damaged drywall, insulation, wet hardwood floors, wet ceilings, wet carpets, etc. It is critical to act quickly when water damage situations arise to preserve and protect your property from mold and other secondary damage. In fact, your insurance policy requires you as the property owner to act quickly to mitigate the loss.
Let’s explore some of the most common water damage situations we run into and discuss the differences in procedures:
Water Damage from Burst Pipes
Water damage from burst pipes can wreak havoc on a building. An entire structure can be saturated in hours from a burst pipe on the top floor of a two-story home or from the 4th floor of office space. This is what we refer to as category one, class three water damage which means the water originates from a clean source and has come from above impacting the majority of an area including ceilings. The good news is that in many cases if caught quickly many building materials can be saved if aggressive drying efforts are employed, however, it takes a veteran restoration technician to properly assess and diagnose the job site. The right equipment must be deployed quickly and decisions must be made quickly to prevent major demolition and re-construction. Water can and will travel everywhere with these types of intrusions and tools such as thermal imaging cameras, non-penetrating meters, penetrating meters and hygrometers are essential to identify ALL areas of impact. One room left wet for several days untreated can result in major mold damage.
Water Damage from Ice Dams
Water damage from ice dams can be very misleading to homeowners or undertrained technicians. Major festering water damage that is destroying the wall cavity can appear to be just a little water on the surface. Ice dams can leak suddenly and flood an entire exterior wall of a home and even leak out onto flooring. This type of damage is very easy to recognize. However, often they happen slowly and will saturate a wall cavity multiple times before becoming visible. This means that many times before it is noticed mold may have already taken hold in the wall system. Ice dams are typically category two, class three water damage projects. This means the water is not “clean” water but it is also not heavily contaminated water. It takes a thorough investigation to determine the proper steps with ice dams including, test cuts, the use of a boroscope, thermal imaging, etc. Water can travel down wiring and pipes and end up in another room so checking everywhere is imperative.
Most Common Water Damage in Maine: Water Damage from Ground Water Intrusion
The most common source of water damage in Maine is groundwater intrusion. Groundwater typically enters the home through the perimeter drains, basement walls, or the floor and is usually category two or sometimes category three water. Category three water is considered unsanitary water that can cause severe illness or death to occupants. The water can be from rivers, streams, tidal flow, sewer drains, etc. With most category two water damage and ALL category three water damage situations, materials such as drywall, carpet, base trim, etc. should be removed. With category two projects air movers, dehumidifiers, and heat drying units can be employed as long as mold has not developed and the damage was caught quickly. With category three projects extreme caution must be exercised to contain the area, discard porous materials, thoroughly treat surfaces with biocides, and dry the structure using a passive approach with no air movers to push contaminants around. In Maine disinfectants and biocides must be applied by a licensed spray application firm with a Master applicator leading the project.
In summary, every water damage clean-up project is different in scope. Every project has different needs and requirements. The field is a very technical field with very real implications for property owners if jobs are not handled properly. If you are the victim of water damage in Maine, you owe it to yourself to do the research and hire only the best for your home or business. You should look for an IICRC certified firm with trained, skilled technicians. Be wary of large franchises because many times the technicians are temporary workers and turnover can be quite high. Check with the better business bureau and check companies like Angie’s List for customer reviews. With the right company and fast action by the property owner, even the largest water damage situations can be handled quickly with as little damage as possible.