What To Do When You’re Stuck with Water Damage


When your home incurs water damage, it can be quite a nightmare. Not only are you at risk of getting mold in your home, but your household items that got wet may be ruined. It’s always good to know what to do right away when you’ve discovered water damage, because you never know when it might happen.

Once you’ve stopped the flow of water and contained further spread of water, there are a few steps you can take to have a better chance of saving some of your household items from water damage. Here is what you need to know about what items can be saved, what needs replaced and what to do immediately to make your items salvageable.

First Actions

The first thing you need to do when your home is flooded is to shut off the power and stop the flow of water by shutting off the water line and placing buckets under any leaks. Cover items with plastic sheeting and make sure water on the floor is contained from further spread. Move dry items to an unaffected space and keep the affected space below 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Reduce the humidity to around 40% by turning on the air conditioner, removing water from the floors and circulating air. According to Reuters, 40 to 50 percent is the safe zone to prevent not only mold, but even skin problems.

The faster you can remove an item, like electronics and furniture, from water’s way, the more likely you’ll be able to save them.

Drying Items

If water damage is minimal, you can air dry everyday supplies with fans or by using towels, paper towels and. Don’t aim fans directly at the items though and lay items out on towels over a flat work surface. Contrary to what many people believe, you shouldn’t turn the heat up. Keep the temperatures cool and humidity low.

For books, you have to take some extra measures. Ensure no mold is growing in drying books between the pages and in the gutter of the book. Keep large, heavy, fragile and soft-covered books flat. Don’t air-dry books with coated paper, leather, parchment or rare books; Life Hacker says these should be frozen. Freezing will buy you time if you’re not ready to work on the drying process yet, plus you can use the “frost-free” setting which can dry your items out over months.

If you get to them quick enough, cinder blocks, concrete and plaster walls can all be dried out as long as you wash with clean fresh water and mild soap while afterwards disinfecting with bleach solution. Hardwood floors and linoleum can be salvaged if dried quickly and if you run powerful fans on high. Linens, clothes and drapes can be washed but for any that are dry-clean only, you can air-dry in sunlight and spray with disinfectant.

Which Items Should I Toss?

Rather than try to salvage these items, you are better to toss them due to the higher risk of mold or other hazards. Unsealed food and medicine that the water reached are now probably unsafe. Cutting boards (especially if wooden), baby bottle tops or pacifiers and plastic utensils should all be tossed. On that note, be sure to toss play equipment or toys that were damaged unless you’re able to disinfect them properly.

Rugs that have a foam back can sometimes be saved, but toss out the pads. Ceiling tiles that are soaking wet shouldn’t be saved. Drywall and wallboards hold water so you must remove them to prevent mold and decay. Any furniture that’s not laminated like wafer board or soaked particleboard is safer tossed out.

While I’m Waiting For Help To Arrive, What Should I Do?

When water damage is bad enough to call for help, there are a few things you can do while waiting for help to arrive. SV Restoration Specialists advises homeowners to remove excess water by blotting or mopping, especially from wood furniture after you’ve removed anything that was sitting on the table. Another good recommendation is to remove colored rugs from wet carpeting and any furniture that was on wet carpeting should have aluminum foil placed between the furniture legs and the carpet.

Damage and Insurance Companies

When it’s time to place a claim with your insurance company and they are fighting the claim by requiring you to have additional flood protection, keep in mind that courts tend not to define water damage as a flood. Since policy language is often ambiguous, the term flood is often associated with a natural event or body of water so when the insurance company tries to claim that burst pipes and leaks are excluded, courts will sometimes allow for the coverage. Make sure you discuss with a professional before conceding to the insurance company’s interpretation of flood.

When your home suffers from water damage whether minor or severe, it’s always important to first handle things safely by acting quickly to salvage your items and getting a professional on the way to evaluate things.

Veronica Davis