Residential & Commercial Water Damage Restoration
Water damage is one of the principal causes of property loss among home and business owners. In the U.S. alone, approximately $2.5 billion is annually spent by insurance companies on water damage and mold. Furthermore, homes in the U.S. can leak in excess of 1 trillion gallons of water annually. Leakage and flooding, if left unchecked or undealt with, can cause catastrophic damage to home and building foundations, walls and other support structures resulting in health and safety concerns and even structural collapse and severe loss of property.
Using certified professional restoration services is the most effective, efficient and safest method of salvaging and restoring property damage caused by the effects of water. To properly mitigate property loss to water damage, information and knowledge are the most effective tools.
Water Damage Defined
The term water damage describes an extensive number of possible losses caused by water intrusion into a structure leading to the compromise or attack of materials by destructive biological and chemical processes. These destructive processes can include the oxidation (rusting) of steel, rotting of wood, delamination of materials like plywood, in addition to many others. Damage can be indiscernibly slow like water spots and drip leaks or extremely swift as in disaster situations such as floods – regardless of speed it can lead to significant loss.
Categories of Water
Different water types present various health concerns and require diverse restoration strategies. Knowledge of which category water falls under is imperative. There are three categories under which water is typically defined.
- Category 1 – Clean water. Water that remains uncontaminated at its source and poses no health concerns to humans or animals. Examples would include overflowing sinks or bathtubs, broken water supply lines, melting ice or snow and falling rainwater.
- Category 2 – Otherwise called grey water. Water that contains biological or chemical contaminants that could cause illness or discomfort if ingested by or exposed to humans. Leakage from dishwashers or washing machines, toilet water contaminated with urine (no feces) and sump pump failures are examples.
- Category 3 – Water that is wholly unsanitary and could cause serious illness, possibly death if ingested and is otherwise known as blackwater. Sewer backup, flooding from natural water bodies, toilet water contaminated with feces and stagnant water – usually supporting bacteria – are examples of black water.
Classes of Damage
Water destruction is typically categorized into four classes, each describing more damage than the class before.
- Class 1 – Minimal damage, requires less restoration and has a slow evaporation rate. Usually only involves materials with low permeability and only a portion of a particular room is affected.
- Class 2 – With a quick evaporation rate, effects are seen in an entire room. Carpeting is affected and water has permeated the walls at least 12” above the flooring.
- Class 3 – Fastest Evaporation rate. Ceilings, insulation, walls, sub-floors and carpet are saturated with water.
- Class 4 – There is enough water and sufficient time has elapsed to soak materials with low permeability.
The Water Damage Restoration Process
In a situation where water damage restoration is required swift action must be taken to minimize damage and the loss of property. Following the mitigation of immediate danger by evacuating all occupants, the essential steps of water damage restoration are as follows:
- Removal of Excess Water – Initial action must be taken to remove any excess water built up within the affected area. Variable to factors such as depth, severity and water category, different methods may be used – including wet-dry vacuum units or gas-powered pumps. Once all excess water is removed, step two can begin.
- Evaporation, Dehumidification and Temperature Control – Remaining water must be evaporated into a vapor state and exhausted from the structure. This is usually done quickly and efficiently through the use of specialized equipment. Convective drying is the process through with this is achieved. Convective drying is the careful manipulation of air exchange, heat and vapour pressure within the affected environment. Because of its speed, this method minimizes the possibility of fungal growth and can also greatly reduce damage to structural components.
- Inspection – Once optimal temperature and humidity conditions are achieved, all elements of the affected area must be inspected to determine the extent of water migration, damage to the building’s contents and structural elements, and present safety hazards – among others. A thorough inspection can produce enough information to determine the scope of repairs needed. Full inspections must include an individual evaluation of these elements:
- Structural Elements – Structural elements that require drying or replacement can consequently create secondary damage (i.e. collapse of portions or the entirety of the structure) if action is not taken. Inspection of these materials are particularly important if water has been present for longer than 24 hours. Elements such as ceilings, walls, built-in furnishings and fixtures, structural wood and insulation are examples.
- Floor Coverings – It should be determined whether floor covering materials such as carpet, cushion, wood, laminates and vinyl must be replaced. These materials, if left unchecked, can potentially pose health risks due to contaminants and fungal growth.
- Levels of Contamination – Different levels and types of bacterial and chemical contamination require different measures, therefore, this should be thoroughly examined.
- HVAC System – The heating, ventilation and air conditioning system (HVAC) must be evaluated and cleaned if damage or contamination is present. Without decontamination, the HVAC system can perpetuate pollutants throughout the structure.
- Repair and Reconstruction – Following thorough evaluation, the process of repair can begin. This can involve the repair or demolition and replacement of structural elements such as floors, walls and ceilings, in addition to cosmetic elements. In some cases, landscaping may also be involved to provide proper drainage for the property.
Water damage restoration in NJ is a precise, careful process that is important to ensuring protection property and the safeguarding of health. The process deserves respect and should not be taken lightly or considered without care. Although there are many minor scenarios in which only a simple fix is needed, most restoration should be done by certified professionals with the right knowledge and tools in order to ensure the best outcome in any given situation.