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This information is written by Restorex Disaster Restoration, a local Indianapolis, Water Damage Restoration Contractor. This information is based on our real life experience in the field helping our customers overcome water damage disasters and navigating them through the insurance claims process. .
This damage can cause structural damages or indoor air quality issues if isn’t mitigated properly.
Sometimes it’s easy to see when you have significant water damage, for example if your kitchen ceiling looks like a rain forest because water is dripping through the drywall. But other times it isn’t as clear because you may have a slow leak from a toilet or a dishwasher leaking under a hardwood floor.
When water finds its way into the building structure, most homeowners will notice. The building materials will begin to rot or decay or you will begin smell musty odors coming from the area that has significant water damage.
This includes all the following:
The most common causes of water damage that we see are appliances in kitchens, toilets in bathrooms, sump pump back-ups or failures in basements, drain backups in basements, washing machines located in upstairs laundry rooms, broken drain lines in crawlspaces and frozen water pipes in the winter.
Click here to learn more about the categories of water damage.
Most of the time, water damage starts as Category 1 because it originates from a water supply line and can then become Category 2, when is absorbs into building materials or goes unnoticed for an extended period of time.
Now, if the water damage is from a drain line or discharge line, this water is Category 3 Water.
For each category of water, there is a different set of standards that is followed to ensure your home is properly cleaned and dried. The IICRC is an organization that has written a standard and reference guide for professional water damage restoration companies. Click here to learn more about operating procedures for water damage restoration.
When the structure is not clean or it is wet because of water damage, there are risks for property occupants.
Structural Damage: When excess water is poured into a home or business there is the potential for immediate structural damage.
Since, water is a heavy liquid, when building materials like drywall or gypsum board, absorb excess water they will pull away from their fasteners or crumble because of the extra weight. This happens when drywall ceilings get heavily saturated with water damage.
Then, you have the structural building materials that hold up the roof, floors and walls. These are typically wood based products that can absorb lots of moisture because of their porous nature.
When building products absorb water, they can support certain types of fungal growth that will eat or rot the structural members overtime. If a wood beam, that is carrying a heavy load from a second story, begins to rot, then there could be long term structural damages to the entire property.
Support Fungal Growth: When there is significant water damage, there is a potential for fungal growth otherwise known as mold damage.
For mold to grow it needs a food source and water source. Most residential homes are built using wood-based products, which can be a good food source for mold growth.
Typically, when a home does not have excess wetness, mold lacks a water source and it does not thrive. But when water damage occurs, this provides a necessary ingredient for its growth. Typically, if a wood building material is above 16 percent moisture content it has the ability to support mold growth.
These are reasons why you should take the necessary steps to properly clean up water damage.
There are 3 easy ways to tell if you possibly have Mold in your Home.
Your nose and your eyes are a good way to tell if you have substantial mold growth. You can typically see it on a wall, floor or roof decking when it is actively growing, and it will create a strong earthy or musty odor in the area.
During a water damage inspection, our highly trained technician, will use a variety of moisture meters to evaluate the water content in the building materials. We use a combination of invasive and non-invasive moisture meters to find water damage in the property. Learn more about How Restorex Investigates Water Damage.
Water removal is one the most important steps in the water cleanup process. Our advanced water restoration equipment can remove more standing water in a home than a standard wet vacuum or shop vac. We use a variety of pumps and portable vacuums to help us remove standing water.
The type of water removal equipment we use, depends on the amount of water and the category of water. Learn more about Water Removal.
There are building materials in a home or business that cannot be dried out or are not worth keeping through the restorative drying process.
For instance, paper faced batt insulation, is a building material that is not worth drying because it requires a lot of time and energy. Most of the time, this batt insulation will be removed during the early stages of the water mitigation.
Carpet and pad are materials that will be removed during the drying process because of cleanliness or the amount of time it takes to dry the materials in place. That being said, carpet and carpet pad do dry very well. So depending on the situation, it may be best to remove the carpet and pad.
Plywood, floor joists, ceiling joists and wall studs will almost always be dried in place. These structural materials are dried in place because they are not easily removed.
This is the process of drying a home back to its original moisture content.
Essentially, it is the process where water restoration equipment is placed into the wet structure to remove the remaining water that was not removed with the water extraction equipment.
Restorative drying takes between 3 to 5 days on a standard water restoration project. If the structure was wet for an extended period or a situation makes the drying process difficult, it could take up to 7 days.
The drying equipment used for restorative drying includes Air Movers, Low Grain Refrigerant Dehumidifiers, Electric Heaters and In-Direct Fired Furnaces.
The main purpose for the water damage equipment is to provide air movement, heat and dry air. Learn more about Restorex’s Water Damage Equipment.
Water Damage Repairs
After the structure has been properly dried, we can start the repairs required to return the property back to its original condition. This will typically involve replacing drywall, insulation, flooring, baseboards and cabinetry.
The water damage repair process can be much longer than the restorative drying process. The initial drying only takes a few days, but the water damage repairs could take as long as a few months.
It’s always good for a homeowner to patient with their water damage contractor during these moments, especially when they are working with an insurance company.
If water damage is significant enough to hire a professional water damage restoration contractor, then the restorative drying will be a minimum $2,000 – $2,500.
If the water damage restoration services are lower than $2,000, then a handy homeowner could probably do the work themselves, in our opinion, and save quite a bit of money. The water damage repairs would be in addition to the $2,000 for the water restoration services.
Therefore, Restorex gives our customers free advice, when their damage is not significant enough to justify an insurance claim or our professional water damage services.
Difficulties writing accurate Water Damage Estimates on the Spot
The cost of the water damage services can be difficult to estimate up front because the restoration contractor does not always know what he is getting into…contractors don’t have X-Ray vision, so we can’t always say with certainty how a home was built or how much is affected by water damage behind walls, above ceilings or below floors.
This is why, insurance companies allow water damage contractors to submit their estimates after the restorative drying is complete.
This is an accepted practice because the contractor will use an estimating software called Xactimate that standardizes prices for water damage restoration services.
Xactimate: Now, most water restoration companies will use an estimating software called Xactimate.
Xactimate has prices that are pre-determined by industry leaders and insurance companies to help settle water damage claims quicker and easier.
This software gives a standard pricing structure for water restoration services. Learn more about Xactimate.
The main pieces of water restoration equipment needed are:
These are the basic pieces of equipment a water damage company will use to dry out homes and businesses.
When a water damage project becomes complicated or has difficult circumstances, other pieces equipment may be needed to help with the mitigation of the water damage.
Restorex uses other pieces of equipment in these circumstances. These pieces of water restoration equipment help us dry out wall cavities, ceiling cavities, provide extra heat for a large project or power distribution.
If we need to power a lot of equipment at one location and the electrical panel does not provide enough power for the required drying equipment, we will call an electrical contractor to provide us with temporary power solutions.
Here is the link again to learn more about Restorex’s Water Damage Equipment.
If the water damage is properly dried out, there will not be long term effects on the structural components of the home. That’s why it is important to properly dried out the property before ending the restorative drying process.
Building Science Information
Standard structural members for a residential home are wood framing such as (2 x 4, 2 x 6, 2 x 10, 2 x 12). These structural members are the back bones of the floors, ceilings, roof and walls of the home.
The floor system is usually built using Oriented Strain Board (OSB) plywood.
Quick Fact: The 2 x 4 walls are typically installed on top of this plywood floor, which is why it’s not easy to remove and replace affected OSB plywood during a water mitigation.
Now because the wood framing is necessary for holding up the entire building envelope, these materials are almost always dried in place and they take priority during a water mitigation or restorative drying process.
It may be necessary to remove extra drywall, insulation, cabinetry or flooring to ensure that the structural members can be dried back to their original moisture content.
An evaluation of the cost of the materials vs the benefit is happening during the removal process. The emphasis is on getting the structural members dry first, even if you sacrifice the finishes of the home (i.e baseboards, drywall, floors and cabinets).
Accidental and All of Sudden
When an insurance company is considering covering a water damage claim, they are always looking for situations that were accidents.
These include burst pipes in the middle of the night, toilet supply line fittings that break lose or the toilet malfunctions, an appliance fails in the middle of a cycle, or a homeowner accidentally clogs a sink drain and runs the water, causing the sink to overflow.
Negligence or Maintenance Issues
What an insurance company does not want to cover, is if a property owner has ignored an obvious water leak overtime, which has led to a major water disaster with lots of secondary damage (i.e. mold growth or structural damages).
If the water damage seems like an obvious maintenance issue, they may deny coverage for the claim.
This is dependent on the insurance company’s policy and the individual insurance adjuster assigned to the claim.
Flood Damage (Water Enters through a Window, Wall or Door)
Now, if water enters the home through a window, wall, or door an insurance company will typically not cover those damages. The United States Federal Government is the only organization that offers flood damage coverage and they provide it through FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program NFIP.
Typically, your insurance company can work with FEMA to have Flood Coverage added to your policy if you live near an area that is prone to flooding.
You can visit https://www.floodsmart.gov/ to learn more about how to get covered for flood damage.
Additional Insurance Writers or Coverages (Sump Pump or Drain Backup Coverage)
If a homeowner has a finished basement, then most likely they have a sump pump installed to protect the foundation walls from water pressure.
Some insurance companies do not automatically provide sump pump back up or drain back up coverage in their policies. It requires the insurance agent or the homeowner to recommend or ask for the coverage to be added to the policy.
We always recommend that homeowners to sit down with their Insurance Agent to verify their coverages before a water disaster strikes.
Things to ask your Insurance Agent:
To Learn more about water damage insurance coverage read Will My Insurance Company Cover My Water Damage Claim?
This is the point where a property owner has decided to place an insurance claim and they have hired a water damage restoration company is help them through the process. If you want to read a short article How Long Does a Water Damage Claim Last?
Typically, a standard water mitigation will last 3 – 5 days after the initial work begins.
Quick Fact: The insurance company may ask for an estimate upfront for the water mitigation services; most of the time they want to make sure the damage for cleanup and repairs would cost more than the insurance deductible. The insurance company will receive a contractor’s estimate after the water mitigation services have been completed with the proper documentation.
After the water mitigation is complete, the insurance adjuster will visit the property to determine what is needed to repair the home to its pre-loss condition.
This will most likely be the only time the adjuster visits your home. Sometimes this will happen quickly, or it may be delayed depending on the insurance adjuster’s schedule.
Once the insurance adjuster gets a chance to see the damage at the property, he or she can now settle the claim for the water damage repairs.
Depending on the insurance company’s policy, the adjuster will write the original repair estimate.
Restorex prefers to write the original repair estimate because it saves a lot of time. It avoids sending supplement estimates to an adjuster and the process of haggling out the differences in scope.
Most of the time if an adjuster writes the original estimate, a supplement estimate is required to include all items and services needed to properly repair the property.
When an adjuster’s estimate is completed, the contractor who will be completing your repairs will want to review it.
If the adjuster missed a line item or didn’t include a certain service or there are unforeseen items when the adjuster was present, the contractor will write a supplement estimate to the original repair estimate.
This is a tedious process and takes longer than most expect. We always try to coach our customers to be patient during this process.
Now that the haggling is over with and the initial money is sent to the homeowner the initial repairs can begin. The contractor should get a signed a contract for the amount that is agreed upon by the customer and contractor before the work begins. Then the homeowner will give the contractor a down payment to get the process started.
The insurance company will always hold a small amount of the repairs in Recoverable Depreciation. This amount will be paid to the homeowner when the restoration contractor finishes the water damage repairs to their property.
Most of the time a contractor will need to submit a few pictures and a final invoice for the insurance adjuster to release the final funds to the homeowner.
Once the homeowner receives the recoverable depreciation, the restoration contractor can collect on the final payment for the water damage repairs.
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