Coming home from a long trip can be a relief in many ways -- after the fun of vacation, you may be excited to spend the night in your own bed, surrounded by familiar sights and sounds. Unfortunately, if one or more of your home's plumbing components has chosen your absence as the perfect time to begin leaking, you could find yourself returning to soggy carpet, warped linoleum, or a damaged subfloor. What should you do after arriving home to find a plumbing leak has already caused damage to your home? Read on to learn more about how damage contractors will evaluate and repair any issues caused by these leaks, as well as what you can do to prevent further damage once you've discovered the problem.
What should you do to minimize damage before the contractors can arrive?
If you're returning home after business hours and don't have an emergency plumber in your area, you'll need to take a few steps to prevent this leak from causing further damage to your home and belongings.
The first step is to identify the source of the leak and, if possible, cut off the water supply. This will stop the flow of water and make it easier for contractors to begin repair quickly. You'll also want to remove any upholstered or soft-surfaced items from the water-logged area, with particular attention to items placed on carpet. Although you may assume that carpet will contain most of the water from a relatively slow leak, because of its efficient wicking action, carpet can allow this moisture to spread throughout a room quickly, ruining the legs of your furniture and causing upholstered items to develop a distinctive mildewed smell.
After you've stopped the flow of running water and removed all the items you can, you'll want to focus on ventilation to help remove excess moisture from the air. During temperate seasons, you should be able to accomplish this by opening windows and directing fans toward the moist areas. During winter, you may want to invest in a dehumidifier to literally draw out moisture from the air.
How will contractors work to clean up the water damage to your home?
Upon arrival at your home, water damage contractors will work quickly to assess the damage and determine next steps. The first task is to identify the source of water to determine whether it is "clear" or "clean" Category 1 water that should pose no health hazards (like a leaking water heater) or if it is Category 2 or 3 water that could be harmful or even deadly to those in close contact (like raw sewage or pesticide runoff from a backed-up drain). This will determine the preventive measures these crews must take to avoid illness and ensure your home is made safe for you and your family.
Category 1 water is usually relatively simple to clean up -- although soaked carpets or subfloors may need to be ripped up and replaced, once this moisture has dried, you and your family shouldn't suffer any long-term consequences of exposure. However, if parts of your home have been in contact with Category 2 or Category 3 water, these contractors will need to take extra steps to ensure that all surfaces that have been in contact with water are adequately disinfected and any toxic residue is removed.
After determining the source of the water and its potential level of contamination, your contractors will then need to assess the extent of damage to your home to know how to repair it. While some spills remain contained to their immediate area and can be remediated in just a few hours, leaks that have caused water to spread throughout a home (or have resulted in leakage from an upper floor to a lower one) may require heavy-duty fans or ventilation systems to quickly and fully dry the areas.
Finally, these contractors will need to take measures to minimize any long-term effects of this water exposure -- especially as it relates to mold and mildew growth. These organisms can multiply from a single spore and thrive in warm, moist conditions. You may want to consider repainting any affected rooms with an antimicrobial paint or even treating your carpet or wood floors with cleaners designed to limit mold growth. By doing this, as well as by continuing to run your dehumidifier to keep excess moisture out of the air, you should be able to keep your home mold-free even after a major water leak. Contact a company like RTC Restoration for more information.