Take Fast Action when Water Damage Occurs

By Frank Zubricki

Water from flooding or plumbing complications can prove to be a very destructive force in your home. Planning for every possible emergency situation is essential, so that you may act swiftly, should water damage essentially arise. Preparation requisites are as follows:

Be organized:
• Verify that your Chicago water damage is covered by your homeowner’s insurance policy.

• Have the insurance company’s 24-hour emergency number accessible on your phones; however, just in case phone access is lost, always carry a business card in your wallet.

• Maintain a current list of your major assets and their estimated value.

• A charged emergency light and camera should be easily accessible.

• Have safety gear (rubber gloves, boots, and a face mask) available.

• Ensure all adult household members are aware of the main switches for electricity and water.

• Teach children to alert a grownup immediately, if they observe water in any unusual locations in the home.

Water from flooding or plumbing complications can prove to be a very destructive force in your home.
Water from flooding or plumbing complications can prove to be a very destructive force in your home.

Set up a secure safety net:
• Select the home of a neighbor, relative, or close friend to bring your kids to in an urgent situation.

• Preserve copies of important documents, such as your house deed, on your computer and in a waterproof container. Valuable properties, such as jewelry or coin collections should be stored in a safe deposit box.

First response:
• Ensure the safety and accountability of everyone in your party.

• Contact your insurance company to determine the best course of action.

• Wear non-conductive footgear, such as rubber boots and avoid standing in water.

• If possible, turn off your main power switch safely; otherwise, contact a professional electrician.

• Identify the source of the water, e.g. a roof leak due to heavy rainfall. In an arid area, such as Nevada, the source is more likely to be a blocked pipe or an overflowing appliance.

• Record damage with notes, photographs, and/or video.

• Unless it is raining, open all windows for aeration.

Salvage your possessions:
• Remove all small items of value.

• If possible, safely unplug all electrical appliances and move small, hazardous electronics out of harm’s way. Before reusing, everything should be thoroughly dried.

• Pull up the carpet (major liquid absorbent) and move it to a dry location. The padding underneath the carpet acts as a sponge and may have to be discarded.

• Thoroughly soaked items, such as upholstered or wooden furniture should be taken outside. Otherwise, transfer them to the shower or bathtub.

• Ensure essential documents have been photocopied and/or backed up.

Remove standing water and clean up:
• Distinguish between white water (clean liquid, as from a broken pipe), gray water (contains traces of detergent or food, as from a dishwasher), and black water (contaminated sewage). Hire a professional to manage toxic, black water.

• Mops, old towels, bedding, and rags may soak up a small amount of water.

• Clear greater amounts using buckets. Empty the water down the drain, unless your pipes are blocked; otherwise pour the contents onto your lawn.

• A wet/dry vacuum can be useful.

• Rent a sump pump for a great deal of flooding. Position it at the lowermost point on the flooded floor.

• Shovel out any mud.

• Wipe any moisture off the walls and ceiling. Then, disinfect them to avert the development of mildew and mold.

Other important tips:
• Take precautions when attempting to clean a flooded area.

• Be advised that moisture can cause severe damage to drywall.

• Contact an expert, should you have any doubts regarding the safety of the structure.

• Retain all receipts from expenses related to the water damage, such as rental equipment or temporary lodging arrangements, for your insurance claim.