Water damage. You hope you never have to deal with it, but if you must, it’s best to be prepared.
Water damage can cause a loss of possessions, structural compromise, and can severely impact your property value. And hopefully, it’s a problem you never have to encounter.
But if you suddenly spot unwelcome water in your home, there’s still time to stop it before the damage becomes permanent.
If you run into the unlucky situation of a large spill, a leaky roof or, yikes, a burst pipe in your home, you can hopefully minimize your damage to keep your place livable and, well, dry. Just start by following these simple steps.
Find Where the Water Is Coming From
If you notice leaking, or water pooling in a room in your home, it’s important to assess your water damage in order to plan your clean up. You’ll want to discover where the water is coming from, and find a way to stop its flow.
Of course, there are a myriad of ways water damage can present itself, and the location of the leak can tell you quite a bit. If you see a leak on the ceiling in the upper areas of your house, you probably have a leak in your roof, while water damage on the ceiling of your basement likely will involve a leak in your plumbing.
This is essential to note since, while no one wants a leaky roof, a basement leak could indicate groundwater infiltration or water leaking through a foundation. These instances can be quite severe, and likely will require the intervention of a waterproofing specialist.
Outdoor conditions can also tell you what sort of leak you’re encountering. If you notice a leak during a heavy downpour, you’re likely dealing with groundwater or foundation infiltration, whereas a leak on a sunny day, the culprit likely has to do with your plumbing.
The key is to stop the water from flowing in before you start trying to minimize the damage. Hopefully, the source will be easy to fix, but if something has burst, or you’re seeing a severe basement leak, you’ll want to call a professional right away to make sure to get the issue attended to as quickly as possible.
Once you’ve dealt with the culprit, it’s time to spring into action.
Move Wet Objects to a Safe and Dry Place
If water has made its way to the floor, or various items of furniture, it’s important to remove any and all wet objects from the area. This step is crucial—it limits the amount of water that saturates the floor, while aiding in the preservation of furniture, rugs, and any other items that might be affected by water damage. If left unattended, a soaked-through rug or a damp piece of clothing on the floor could cause potentially irreparable damage. So clear those objects as quickly as possible.
Now you may run into another logistical issue at this point. Where should you store the wet items? After all, they are, not surprisingly, wet, and your goal is to make everything in the apartment dry. So you’ll want to ensure you store your wet objects in a dry and safe place. This could be a bathtub, a sink, or a shower—anywhere without wood that can warp, carpet that can become damaged, or drywall that can develop mold.
Of course if the leak is coming from above, you won’t need to worry about this particular step. Just ensure you get the water source turned off, and clear any items near the wet spot that might eventually be affected just to be sure.
Dry the Affected Area
Once you’ve removed your wet objects, you’ll need to dry the affected area by any means necessary. If you have a wet-vac, that’ll be great for any waterlogged floors, but you’ll likely be using a mix of towels and rags.
It’s okay if you don’t completely dry everything, as you’ll be doing some drying later on down the line as well. Just remove any standing pools of water, or dab off any excessive accumulation of moisture on the ceilings. The key here is to get the affected area relatively dry. But you’re not done yet.
Clean the Affected Area
Now, you might be a bit confused at this point. Cleaning what you just dried off will, yes, get the floor more wet. It absolutely seems counter-intuitive. But hear us out. See, when dealing with water damage, there could potentially be more than just water seeping into your home.
Your leak, whatever its source, will very likely could bring in mud, sediment, or just general organic materials along with your unwanted moisture. This could lead to more issues and headaches down the road—the materials could set when they dry and cause permanent damage. So in order to get rid of these impurities and prevent permanent damage to your floors or walls, you’ll need to make sure to give the area a good scrubbing.
Clean the area just like you would normally clean your home. (Though if the damage is in your ceiling, you probably aren’t used to cleaning up there. Just use the same cleaning approach as you’d use for the floors, only upside down!) The good news here is, if you haven’t done a deep clean of your apartment in some time, you can combine your efforts to leave your space looking brand new!
Dry the Area One Final Time
After you’ve gone through every step, it’s time, once more, to dry everything as much as possible. Unlike the last time you dried, you’ll want to get as much moisture removed if possible. If you have a dehumidifier, you’ll want to bring it out, but using towels and rags is fine as well.
Set up as many fans as you can spare and keep them running in the affected area. Open your windows to get as much ventilation as possible. The more moving air you can get rushing through your home, the faster the floors will dry, and the less likely you are to face any severe damage to the wood.
By jumping to action, you’ve helped limit damage to your home. Of course, if you want to prevent any future damage, it’s always best to reach out to a local waterproofing specialist in your neighborhood, who can make sure that even if you experience a water incident, your home can stay protected.