Water Damage Cleanup – All You Need to Know

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Water damage cleanup is the service that is provided when water is removed and the damaged materials are removed or repaired. Most of the time the damage is caused by the following:

  • Flooding
  • Roof leak
  • Storm
  • Overflowing toilet
  • Overflowing washer or other appliance
  • Busted pipe
  • Water leaks

Left unattended the damage caused by water can be very expensive and potentially toxic to your health. Water damage is the number one cause for mold growth. In case of a water damage event, time is in the essence. The faster the reaction the better. The first thing to do is to call a water damage restoration company. Only water damage specialists like Servpro or other local emergency water damage restoration companies have the right equipment and training to assist you and help you during this very stressful time. Make sure that the company you hire is insured and bonded.

Is water damage cleanup covered by homeowner insurance?

Yes and no. If the water damage was caused by neglect or lack of maintenance in most cases the insurance will not cover it. Now if the water damage happened suddenly such as a busted pipe or an internal leak in a wall, in most cases the insurance will cover it.

Here are examples of when you’ll likely be covered by your insurance:

Here are examples of when your insurance won’t cover your damage:

Also read our article on: Sewage Cleanup

What is the water damage clean up process?

The first step in any water damage event is to look for any safety issues. Electricity is always a concern. Submerged wiring or appliances can be very dangerous so  be sure the electricity to the building is shut off before entering if there is any doubt whatsoever. Water damage can also weaken your ceilings, walls or other structural support so be sure you do not enter if you see sagging ceiling, or ceilings with bubbles in them, or other signs of structural issues. Be careful of slippery floors and surfaces, and finally, mold can form as quickly as 24-48 hours so be sure to protect yourself with a surgical mask and gloves to protect you from mold spores. 

Water damage cleanup begins with removing any standing water. If it is safe for you to start water damage DIY yourself, here are some steps.

  • Remove any standing water so you can neutralize the damage. Water spreads very quickly and the damage can get worse with time. If you are sure it is safe, you can soak up small amounts of water with towels and a wet-vac can be used for larger amounts. If you are looking at close to a foot or more of standing water, call a water damage cleanup and restoration company and don’t do any clean up yourself. 
  • Remove any area rugs and put them out to dry. Do not try to remove heavy wet carpeting yourself. Raise your furniture on blocks and remove anything metal to avoid rust stains in your carpeting or on your floors. Raise any drapes to avoid the water on the floor. Wash any wet curtains, pillows, or fabrics. 
  • Start the air circulating with ceiling fans, any other fans you have, or open windows. When it is dry, turn on a dehumidifier if you have one. (Be sure to check the tank and continue to empty it. 


Collect any wet papers, documents and photos. Place them flat to dry. Wet photos can be places in the freezer for scanning or restoration by a professional later. 

  • Use a pail of warm water and all-purpose cleaner to mop hard floors, and wipe all hard surfaces. 
  • Remember, water damage can be costly and dangerous, and a water damage restoration company will have the state-of-the-art and skills needed to quickly and safely remove the source of the water, remove wet and damaged materials, bring the humidity level in your home down and dry out your possessions and home. They are available 24/7 and except in the case of small leaks, are probably your best bet. 

What is the water damage restoration process?

The water restoration process can be quite long. It all starts with a thorough inspection and an assessment of the damage such as flooring, walls, ceilings, and even appliances.

First Step: Inspection

There are 4 classes and categories of water damage. Water damage specialists who have been through the proper water damage training will assess all damage that has occurred in the home and define a category and a class that will help and outlines the best plan of action to restore the property.

Water Damage Restoration Classes

  • Class One: This is the least severe level of damage. It is damage that involves a part of a room only and has absorbed little moisture.
  • Class Two: An entire room is affected and moisture has been absorbed by walls and carpeting.
  • Class Three: This is considered the most severe type of water damage. Water has entered through the ceiling and most areas are affected
  • Class Four: Damage is done to concrete, hardwood flooring and requires a special type of drying equipment and drying process.

Water Damage Restoration Categories

Category One: Flood damage caused by a clean water source like broken pipe or leakage.

Category Two: Damage caused by what we call “grey water” like toilet overflows or a dishwasher.

Category Three: This is considered the most severe case. Areas are affected by water that can cause health hazards such as sewage, sewage backup, large scale flooding, or standing water containing bacteria.

Second Step: Water Removal Process

This is a crucial step. Immediate response is needed to prevent the growth of mold and mildew. Specialized equipment such as large pumps and powerful vacuums are used to remove water from the affected property. More advanced equipment might be necessary depending on the scale of the damage.

Third Step: The Dehumidification and Sanitizing Process

Not every water disaster is equal. Depending on the severity, powerful dehumidifiers will be needed to accelerate drying any remaining moisture. The water removal and drying process can last between 1 week to up to 3 weeks to ensure that zero hidden moisture is left within the walls or ceilings. Advanced drying equipment might be needed.

Fourth Step: The Cleaning Process

Air scrubbers might be utilized for large size water restoration services. They can remove moisture and particles from the air based on several scientific drying principles. All personal items need to be sanitized and clean. This is a very important step to prevent the growth of black mold and avoid secondary damage to the property. Carpeting and other similar items like clothing are given antimicrobial treatments.

Fifth Step: The Restoration Process

This is without a doubt the most important step of the overall water restoration process. It could be a very simple process such as removing damaged carpeting. But in many cases it requires replacing drywall or even ceilings. The overall process can take even longer if the water damage team is exposed to toxic materials such as asbestos or lead for older houses.

Water Damage Restoration Process Tips

  • Safety First!  Do not enter if the damage is significant or you are not 100% sure it is safe to enter.
  • Hire only certified and insured water mitigation companies or special disaster recovery teams in case of major flooding
  • Make sure that the running water is safe to drink
  • Depending on the size of the disaster, try to look for gas leaks
  • Check for structural damage
  • Throw away any food even non-affected by flood
  • Check your home for potential further damage
  • Use your smartphone to take pictures and videos of all damages
  • Do not walk on affected flooring
  • Hire a professional deodorization company to remove any remaining odor
  • Contact your insurance agent. 

Water Damage Cleanup Cost

The average cost of a water damage general process in the US is $3,000 but can go as high as $8,000 or more for the most severe disasters and for larger homes. Another factor that can impact cost is the geographical region where the property is located or prolonged exposure.

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