what you need to know about water damage

I am the first to admit that I am not the best home repair person in the world. When something breaks, it usually takes me a while to figure out how to make the repairs or to break down and hire someone to make the repairs for me. When my dishwasher was leaking, I made the big mistake of not taking action immediately. Instead, I just stopped using it. I thought that not using it solved my problems, but it didn't. About three weeks later, I had to hire a repair contractor to fix all of the damage that the dishwasher had caused. Find out about water damage on my blog.

Tips For Recovering Your Personal Items From A Household Flood

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The ability to save personal items from a flood depends on where the flood water came from and how long the items stay soaked with the flood water. While a water damage cleanup crew is saving your home from structural damage, you'll probably be focused on saving as many personal effects as you can. Here is what you need to know about the two critical factors contributing to salvaging water-damaged items and how to recover as many items as you can.

The Origin of the Flood Water 

Professional water damage restoration companies categorize flood water three ways depending on where the water came from. The source of the flood water has a major impact on whether or not you can save a personal item.

Category 1 - This water has few contaminates in it that could make you sick if you drink the water. This might be water from a burst water supply pipe. Items soaked with this "clean" water are easiest to save because they require no disinfecting to be safe for you and your family.

Category 2 - This water contains microorganisms and other organic material that can make you feel ill if you drink it. Water from an overflowing toilet falls into this category. Items soaked with this "grey" water need to be disinfected before they are safe to use again.

Category 3 - This water has enough organic material and microorganisms in it that you will likely become sick if you consume it. A broken city sewer pipe that backs up into your basement is in this category and professionals call this "black" water. Items soaked with this water require extensive disinfecting which may damage the item beyond repair.

The Duration That an Item Has Been Soaked

Flood water left standing for long periods becomes more contaminated. Category 1 water can become category 2 water if it stands and collects more microorganisms. You'll need to know how long an item as been sitting in the water to determine if it can be safely saved.

Mold and mildew is another problem with items left soaking in flood water. For example, rugs and carpets left in water for longer than 24 hours have a high risk of developing mold and mildew in them. This makes cleaning them more difficult and reduces the chances of recovering those items so they are safe to use again.

Saving Individual Items from a Flood

Your first goal is to get items out of the flood water as quickly as possible and to a place where they can be left to dry out. You'll then be able to focus on how to recover specific items.

  • Non-porous items - Kitchen dishes, pots and pans, glassware and metal objects that don't absorb water can be washed off and dried. If the water was contaminated, a disinfectant rinse containing chlorine bleach may be used to kill any microorganisms and make the items safe to use.
  • Wood items - Wood absorbs water the longer it stays wet. Picture frames, furniture and wooden artwork can swell with the absorbed water. Slowly dry these items with fans and warm air. The swelling will not reverse but may be unnoticeable once the item is thoroughly dry.
  • Carpets and rugs- Get these out of water as soon as possible before they develop mold or mildew. Have a professional water recovery specialist clean and disinfect these items. You will need to pull up wall-to-wall carpet to save it, but throw out any carpet pads underneath it that have become soaked,
  • Upholstered items - Pull the covers off of upholstered items and wash and dry the covers. Replace the closed-foam interiors or have a professional company clean them for you. On pieces where the material can't be removed, have an upholstery company clean and disinfect the pieces.
  • Paper and photos - Place the items between two pieces of absorbent material, such as paper towels. Rest a heavy book on the items to prevent curling as they dry. For important documents, consider photographing them or copying them when they are dry and throwing out the originals.

For further help in cleaning up the water damage, contact a company like Servicemaster of Buncombe County.

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11 February 2016