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Thursday, July 27, 2017

Water Damage FAQ

General

1. How can I safely inspect my house after water damage?
2. What are the best ways to secure my property after water related damage?
3. How can I estimate the extent of the damage?
4. What are the electricity related safety rules after water damage?

Water Damage Prevention

1. How can I know if I have water damage in the kitchen?
2. Where do I need to look for water damage in the bathroom while inspecting?
3. Can the attic vents be a water damage "threat"?
4. I can see drips in the washing machine while it is not in use. Is that normal or is it a sign for water damage?
5. I checked my attic insulation and it seems wet. How can I dry it and make sure it is still in good condition.
6. I can see discoloration on the wall near my utility sink and the wall is getting softer. Does that mean a problem?
7. What are the recommended tests for a sump pump?
8. What are the warning signs for water damage in the refrigerator?
9. Do I have to install an exhaust fan in my bathroom?

Recovering from Water Damage

1. Do I need to throw away all my kitchenware after a flood?
2. What is air drying?
3. My books where soaked in water. How can I salvage them?
4. What can I do if I need to salvage my photos but I can't get to it immediately?

General

Q: How can I safely inspect my house after water damage?
A: Dangers are not over when the water goes down. Do not endanger yourself or your family after a water event. Keep children and pets away. Try to protect yourself and your family from stress, fatigue, and water-related health hazards.

Follow these basic safety rules:

  1. Determine Structural Stability
  2. Cut off power supply
  3. Turn off water supply
  4. Turn off gas supply
  5. Beware of animals
  6. Use protective gear

Related Guide: Step 1: Safety First!

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Q: What are the best ways to secure my property after water related damage?
A: Lock and secure your property when not occupied to prevent looting. Keep in mind that alarms may malfunction if the electricity or telephone service has been interrupted.

Related Guide: Step 2: Secure Your Property

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Q: How can I estimate the extent of the damage?
A: Start with a closer inspection of the property to assess the damage to the exterior. Only if determined safe, walk around the building and lot to observe and gather information. Mark the water levels on the walls for reference. Now enter the structure. Taking extreme precautions, start from the top and document the damage.

Related Guide: Step 3: Damage Assessment

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Q: What are the electricity related safety rules after water damage?
A: There 3 basic safety rules:

  1. Turn off the power to your home or business by disabling the main circuit breaker panel. Even if the neighborhood power grid is down assume all power lines are active and functioning.
  2. Do not use regular household vacuums to remove excess water.
  3. Do not use electrical appliances while standing on a wet floor.

Related Guide: Step 1: Safety First!

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Water Damage Prevention

Q: How can I know if I have water damage in the kitchen?
A: The following are typical signs of water damage in the kitchen:

Leaks under the sink, slow draining pipes, cracked tile or missing grout, soft or stained walls and floors, leaks under and around the base of the dishwasher, and moisture behind the refrigerator.

Related Guides: Prevent Water Damage in the Kitchen - part 1
Prevent Water Damage in the Kitchen - part 2

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Q: Where do I need to look for water damage in the bathroom while inspecting?
A: Start with the toilet; check the water lines, the floor around the toilet, the tank and the toilet rim. Make sure no leaks are visible. Then inspect the Shower and Bathtub. Inspect the tiles, the grout, drain and visible plumbing. Confirm that all seals are tighten and dry. Be attentive to discolorations or soft areas around the bathtub walls.

Related Guides: Prevent Water Damage in the Bathroom

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Q: Can the attic vents be a water damage "threat"?
A: Yes, but do not uninstall them. Vents are vital for proper attic ventilation and help circulating air and keep low humidity in the attic. However, vents must be inspected regularly.

Related Guides: Prevent Water Damage in the Attic

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Q: I can see drips in the washing machine while it is not in use. Is that normal or is it a sign for water damage?
A: You probably need to replace the shut off valve. Consider installing a single-handled valve that makes it easier to turn off the water supply to the washing machine.

Related Guides: Prevent Water Damage in the Laundry Room

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Q: I checked my attic insulation and it seems wet. How can I dry it and make sure it is still in good condition.
A: After being wet, most insulation is ineffective. However, it is hard to dry out insulation and therefore it will hold moisture for a while, creating high moisture conditions. It is strongly recommended to find and fix the leak source and replace all wet insulation.

Related Guides: Prevent Water Damage in the Attic

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Q: I can see discoloration on the wall near my utility sink and the wall is getting softer. Does that mean a problem?
A: Stained or discolored walls around the utility sink probably means there is an internal leak in the pipes behind the stained wall. Fixing these pipes usually requires professional help. To verify the problem, consider hiring a professional for an infrared inspection.

Related Guides: Prevent Water Damage in the Laundry Room

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Q: What are the recommended tests for a sump pump?
A: There are 3 steps to a sump pump test:

  1. Check the outlet pipe to make sure it is not clogged or frozen. Follow the pipe and confirm that water are directed away from the property.
  2. Check that the pump is clean. Plug in the pump and remove the lid (if there is one). Use a flashlight and look into the pump and see that the inlet pipe is clean and free flowing.
  3. Test the pump by pouring at least 5 gallons of water and pumping it out. Be sure to pour the water in a way that will simulate the average flow into the pump. Force the pump to turn on and off 2-3 times and watch the action of the on/off switch while listening to the pump.

Related Guides: Prevent Water Damage in the Basement

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Q: What are the warning signs for water damage in the refrigerator?
A: Generally, there 3 important red flags for water damage, originating in the refrigerator:

  1. Moisture behind or under the refrigerator including on the coils in the back of the refrigerator.
  2. Leaks from hose connection and seals. (commonly found in the icemaker's water supply line)
  3. Growth of mold is a major sign because it indicates an ongoing problem that must be treated immediately. This problem is usually detected in the drain pan if your refrigerator has one.

Related Guides: Prevent Water Damage in the Kitchen - part 2

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Q: Do I have to install an exhaust fan in my bathroom?
A: Installing an exhaust fan in the bathroom is much recommended. When running, the fan ventilates the bathroom by circulating air and therefore preventing damp air overloads. It helps to maintain low humidity levels, promoting good indoor air quality and reducing the chance for mold growth. It is important to turn it on while using the bathroom and for 5-10 minutes afterwards.

Related Guides: Prevent Water Damage in the Bathroom

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Recovering from Water Damage

Q: Do I need to throw away all my kitchenware after a flood?
A: Not necessarily. Dishes, cooking utensils and food preparation areas can be sanitized, disinfected and then reused. Throw away wooden cutting boards, plastic utensils, baby bottle nipples and pacifiers, since it's nearly impossible to safely clean them.

Related Guides: What to Keep and What to Discard? Indoors.

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Q: What is air drying?
A: Air drying is the most common technique for dry out. Airflow will speed up evaporation by moving moisture-saturated air, allowing dry air to absorb moisture. This method is inexpensive drying since no special equipment is required. However, it is relatively slow.

Related Guides: Dry Out Techniques - part 1

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Q: My books where soaked in water. How can I salvage them?
A: Assuming your books were soaked in clean water for less than 24 hours and mold is not present, you will have to start by prioritizing salvage order: collection books and valuable books must be dried before all other books. The best method for paper drying is freezing. Insert the books into plastic bags and place in the freezer. To prevent pages from adhering to each other, place a baking sheet every 20-30 pages.

Related Guides: Clean, Dry, Repair and Disinfect Paper

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What can I do if I need to salvage my photos but I can't get to it immediately?
A: If you cannot dry out your photos immediately, you can delay further damage from happening by freezing your photos. Start with rinsing them gently, then place your clean photos in a plastic bag (zip bags are recommended), place them in a container and put in the freezer. Be sure to consult a professional conservator before freezing any photos.

Related Guides: Clean, Dry, Repair and Disinfect Photos

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