Recent Water Damage Posts
Can a Toilet Overflow Cause (or Be Caused By) Sewer Damage?
A toilet overflow can be a nasty mess
Can a Toilet Overflow Cause Sewer Damage?
A toilet overflow can be a nasty mess. Sewage water, also called black water, gets everywhere. Unless the flooded toilet was unused since the last full cleaning, areas where the black water reaches should be considered a biological contamination zone.
Sewer damage or septic problems are a possible cause of toilet flooding. However, in most cases, the issue is with the toilet itself.
The three most common causes of overflow are:
- A blocked drain
- A malfunctioning float
- A blocked vent pipe
What Should You Do First?
If you can access the toilet shutoff valve, turn the water off immediately! Every ounce of water creates a much larger mess.
If there’s no shutoff valve, open the tank lid and carefully lift the float up. Don’t yank it —it could break off, causing a worse disaster. Once the float is high enough, you can prop it up using whatever is handy. However, always use the shutoff valve if one is available.
You can now consider what to do with the water in the bowl, but be careful what you stick in the toilet! It can cause sewer damage. If the sewage company finds things you shoved down the toilet, they may conceivably bill you for damages.
If you have a plunger, carefully use that. Follow good practices for use, because if used incorrectly, a plunger is often useless — or it could even make the mess larger.
If a plunger doesn’t work and you know how to use a snake (and have one available), go ahead and carefully try to snake the toilet. A blocked vent pipe can also often be cleared by a snake, so they’re very handy to keep in your toolkit.
If you’ve avoided sewer damage, you can concentrate on cleaning up the black water. Because of the pathogens, this should be left to a certified sewage cleanup company. Professionals have commercial disinfectants that can make quick work of toilet overflow damage.
When To Update Bathroom Supply Lines
Supply line damage has the potential to cause considerable destruction
Homes in Milton, TN, use lines made of plastic or metal to connect plumbing devices to the main water line. These vital components should be checked frequently for supply line damage. They are installed during these important times:
- Initial construction
- Renovations or additions
- Repair of deteriorated lines
The lines connect bathroom fixtures to the home's plumbing system. Steel braided supply lines can wear out, especially older hoses that weren't made as durably as the hoses are today.
What Causes Supply Line Failure?
Supply line damage results when the steel braided sleeve experiences corrosion caused by a chemical reaction from chlorine in the water. This can occur during a supply line leak where the hose connects to the fixture. The corrosion destroys the stainless steel metal strands until they break. Once broken, they no longer support the interior lining that is made of polymer. The water pressure becomes too much for the polymer sleeve, and it also gives.
Who Is Liable for Supply Line Failures?
Today, supply lines are made with stronger interior linings to prevent breakage if corrosion does take place. Should a supply line fail, the homeowner's insurance should cover any water damage that occurs; however, most homeowners have deductibles they'll need to cover first. For this reason, they can hold the supply line manufacturer liable if the damage happens within the warranted timeframe.
The type of supply line that is used in the home will determine the warranty period. Plastic lines usually have five to eight-year warranties while steel braided lines carry lifetime warranties.
If you experience a bathroom leak, and the culprit appears to be the supply line, call your insurance company to get the incident documented. Contact a remediation company to mitigate the situation until the insurance company can determine the right path forward with pursuing any claims against the supply line manufacturer.
Supply line damage has the potential to cause considerable destruction to a dwelling. Understanding how supply line failures occur can help with preventing foreseeable damage. Homeowners should also be on the lookout for moisture occurring near supply lines.
4 Signs of Water Damage To Watch For
Careful inspection of copper pipes is crucial to extend the life of your plumbing system
4 Signs of Water Damage To Watch For
Leaking pipes are just one of many signs you need to have your building's water system inspected before a pipe break upends your business. Early detection is key to keeping damage and repair costs to a minimum. A thorough inspection of your property’s plumbing system and equipment can identify if that toilet backup is a one-off issue or the beginning of a more serious problem. Professionals can check for signs at these four points:
1. Foundation Damage
The foundation of your property in Rockvale, TN, is literally holding up your company. Plumbing problems can result in foundation cracks and movement, structural problems, and cracked walls and ceilings, in addition to more serious damage to the plumbing system.
2. Water Pipe Damage
Undetected leaking pipes can rupture and lead to extensive damage to the floors, walls and ceilings. This leaves the door open for mildew odors and mold infestation. Visible signs of water stains and bulging ceiling tiles or walls are evidence of a pipe break that may call for professional help.
3. Copper Pipes
Careful inspection of copper pipes is crucial to extend the life of your plumbing system. While durable, in less than two years a copper pipe can develop pinhole leaks caused by substandard water quality. Inspecting and repairing or replacing these parts before they cause damage can extend their life and keep your future repair costs down.
4. Sewer Lines
You may miss the visual signs of a problem since these pipes live behind walls and crawl spaces or in basements. Cast-iron lines are meant to last 25 years and beyond, but they do fail. Gas odors, sewage backups and blockages, mold water discoloration, and slow drains are all signs of a damaged cast-iron sewer line. Get a plumbing team to your business immediately to inspect these issues and head off a potentially expensive repair.
SERVPRO is Here to Help
Plumbing problems caused by leaking pipes may eventually be a problem at your commercial property. Early inspection and detection with the help of water restoration professionals can save you headaches and money both.
What To Do Before a Home Adjuster Visits
The home adjuster is going to verify that you need aid
Consider the Following Three Tips To Help Prepare For The Experience
Water damage is no laughing matter. Whether a broken pipe or overflow, your residence in Murfreesboro, TN, is now greatly impacted, interfering with your everyday life. During this stressful time, chances are you may turn to your insurance agency for financial assistance, filing a claim to alleviate rebuilding and cleaning costs. Part of this process means a home adjuster visit. While this may seem intimidating, don't let it ruffle your feathers. Instead, consider the following three tips to help prepare for the experience.
1. Take Picture or Video
Documentation is extremely important when creating your insurance claim. It's the proof that often validates why you need the money and how it's spent. Go through your old videos and photos. Look for images that clearly illustrate the impacted room and your belongings. This shows the good condition before the incident. Then, snap additional images for comparison. The contrast should indicate the severity of the problem as well as the need to replace or repair. Keep these handy for the visit, in case the adjuster has questions.
2. Survey the Property
The home adjuster is going to walk the premises; however, you should also do this prior to the appointment. With a clipboard in hand, make a note of anything you think is suspect. Write out changes or concerns, and be prepared to share it as you walk through the officially scheduled time. Keep an inventory of items destroyed or affected.
3. Get Estimates
Don't hesitate to provide alternate estimates with the insurance claim. The adjuster determines one projection, but this could be quick and without looking at certain areas such as the roof or electric. Arrange to have a water restoration company come out and offer you quotes, providing their opinion about any further complications. Provide these write-ups and assessments so that these may be considered as well.
The home adjuster is going to verify that you need aid. Be ready with evidence and knowledge to back up your claim.
The Importance of Hiring a Certified Water Damage Expert
The IICRC is the acronym for the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification
As a business owner, you have come to expect the unexpected. Sometimes, that can be in the form of a disaster. In Blackman, TN, disasters come in varying degrees and sizes and can involve different elements such as fire, water, and wind. When your disaster involves water clean up, it's important to understand who to go to for help with that cleanup.
Water disasters are a common occurrence. Anything from a toilet overflow to a broken pipe can leave you with a large pool of water in a matter of minutes. What's worse is when you are caught unaware of the situation and it sits for any length of time. In this situation, water clean up becomes a hazard. It's important to utilize a commercial drying specialist certified through the IICRC.
Who is the IICRC?
The IICRC is the acronym for the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification. This non-profit organization is the certifying body for the cleaning and restoration industry. The purpose of the IICRC is to ensure best practices during clean up and to develop industry-centric language and terminology for use among its experts.
Why Should I Hire a Certified Water Damage Expert?
The IICRC has experts who have determined the best and safest solution for performing industry-specific tasks, and this includes ensuring the least damage possible occurs to your property and fixtures. These practices prevent errors and speed up the process to you end up paying less. Hiring a commercial drying specialist certified through the IICRC ensures that specialist is proficient in the understanding of commercial structures.
Just like life, disasters will happen. When they involve hazardous or extensive clean up, it is always best to leave the task to certified specialists knowledgeable in industry best practices. A water clean up can be stressful, but knowing it was done right can bring peace of mind.
4 Tips for Avoiding a Flooded Home While You’re on Vacation
Insulate exposed pipes in your home
Consider These 4 Tips To Avoid Disaster When You Are Away From Home
A warm-weather getaway during the winter months can be just what the doctor ordered. As much as you may enjoy hitting the waves on vacation, however, discovering standing water in your home when you return is a different story. Burst pipes, among other factors, can cause flooding during the winter months when water pipe repair and water damage cleanup can be especially costly. So, consider these four tips to avoid a disaster when you’re away from home for days.
1. Clean Gutters
The combination of heavy rain and clogged gutters can cause everything from a roof leak to lawn drainage issues. Either way, the result can be the same — unwanted water inside the house.
2. Insulate Exposed Pipes
Uninsulated, exposed pipes are very vulnerable to extreme winter temperatures. A broken pipe is a real possibility due to water in the pipe freezing and expanding. This could result not only in a flooded home but also a costly water pipe repair bill.
3. Inspect Sump Pump
A sump pump with a pit that’s full of debris pumps inefficiently; sediment can cause clogs in the intake and discharge pipes. Inspect the pit before you leave to make sure it’s free of debris. Also, keep the basement heated so that these and other pipes don’t freeze.
4. Keep the Heat On
Just as you should keep the heat on in the basement, so should you sufficiently heat the upstairs. If extreme winter temperatures are expected during the time that you’re gone, leave kitchen and bathroom sink cabinet doors open to allow warmer air in. Also, put faucets on a slow drip to help avoid the risk of frozen pipes.
If your Smyrna, GA, home sustains water damage due to a burst pipe, hire a plumber for the water pipe repair. In the meantime, you can call on restoration professionals to begin the process of returning your home to its preloss condition.
How Being Proactive Can Prevent Plumbing Problems
Damaged ceiling due to water leak from plumbing system
How Being Proactive Can Prevent Plumbing Problems
Plumbing problems can be costly for businesses in Murfreesboro, TN. You may have to temporarily shut down your company while water damage repair specialists restore the property. That is why you need to be proactive. While emergencies such as a broken pipe can seem to come out of nowhere, there are steps you can take to mitigate the harm they cause:
1. Check Your Water Bill
Your water bill may reveal hidden evidence of plumbing issues. If your bill suddenly increases for no apparent reason, you may have a leak somewhere on the premises. A leak that is left unaddressed could cause major damage. Try to find the source of the problem and fix it before it creates a major flood on the property.
2. Pick a Good Plumber
When a water main leak or other plumbing problems occur, you don’t want to be left scrambling to find a good plumber. Instead, take some time to find a qualified plumber in advance. Try out a few different ones to see who best fits your needs. Ideally, you should pick one who has experience working in commercial buildings that are similar to yours. Online reviews are also a great way to narrow down your options.
3. Perform Regular Maintenance
Once you find a plumber you can trust, don’t wait until an emergency to contact him. Ask the plumber to inspect the property on a regular basis. The plumber will flag potential problem areas and can fix them before they cause major issues.
For instance, if the plumber notices that your building has older plastic pipes, he may replace them with stronger steel ones. While this may sound expensive, it could save you money in the long run.
Staying proactive can prevent or reduce the impact of plumbing problems in your building. If you do sustain a major leak, however, restoration experts can get the property back to normal quickly and efficiently.
SERVPRO Preventing Holiday Water Damage
One of the joys of the holidays is gathering with friends and family. If you’re planning to have guests in your home this season, be prepared! Holiday celebrations can lead to water damage if you’re not careful.
SERVPRO is here to help make sure your holidays stay merry and disaster-free. Here are some of the common causes of water damage during the holidays and easy steps you can take to avoid them.
Many guests want to pitch in and help around the house. Whether they eagerly volunteer to wash dishes or decide to toss in a load of laundry, appliances aren’t all the same. User error can quickly lead to significant water damage!
Prevent mishaps by typing up simple instructions for appliances your guests might use, like washing machines, dishwashers, and ice makers. The most important appliances to consider are ones that use a lot of water. Pay extra attention to machines that have “quirks” or special instructions. Make sure your guests know the limitations of your appliances.
Are you anticipating hosting young children in your home? An overflowing bathtub or sink might seem far-fetched, but if you get enough enthusiastic cousins together, anything is possible. Or perhaps “slightly-absent-minded Uncle Andy” fails to pull the shower curtain all the way closed, letting copious amounts of water spill out of the shower.
There are plenty of opportunities for bathtime blunders when you host lots of people at once. These incidents can cause severe water damage to your walls, floors, and other building material.
Prevent bathtime havoc by making sure everyone knows how to use tricky faucets. Make people aware of any areas prone to leaking or other quirks in your bathrooms. Provide extra towels for people to mop up splashes and spills quickly.
Take a moment each day to check the bathrooms for leaks or water damage. It’s best to catch it early before the damage spreads or mold and mildew have a chance to grow.
People like to open windows… even in winter.
Everyone has their own opinion about the ideal temperature. Some people might be sweating while others pull on another sweater. Some guests might opt to crack open a window in their bedroom for a little extra ventilation. If they forget to close the window, rain, snow, or sleet can cause water damage to the window, wall, and surrounding areas. The cold draft can also cause nearby pipes to freeze.
Check the windows around your home regularly, especially if precipitation is in the forecast. Consider providing fans to help discourage guests from opening windows at all.
More people in your home can put a strain on your plumbing. The additional showers, extra toilet flushes, and other activities around the house can lead to clogged drains or backed-up toilets, messy and unsanitary leaks, overflows, flooding, and water damage.
It’s critical to clean up contaminated water quickly and with the right chemicals to avoid health problems. If any clogs or overflows lead to more than minor spills, call SERVPRO to make sure all the contaminated water is cleaned correctly. Our technicians will also ensure there isn’t any water damage under the surface.
If you’re traveling, prevent water damage while you’re away
Did you know you’re 40% more likely to experience water damage during the cold winter months? Yet, most people don’t turn off the water main in their home before leaving for the holidays.
A single leak or burst pipe can cost well over $1,000 to repair, even if you catch it early. Turn off and drain the water in the outside spigots during winter months when they aren’t in use. Keep your home thermostat above 55 degrees F (some experts recommend keeping the temperature at 65 degrees or warmer).
Open all your inside doors to keep the air circulating, especially while you’re away. You should also open cabinet doors to let warm airflow around the pipes under your sinks and appliances.
Get peace of mind with leak detectors
Whether you’re hosting family for the holidays or traveling for any length of time, consider placing water leak detectors in critical areas around your home. Put sensors in areas that are most prone to water damage: around the washer, under your kitchen sink, near the water heater, and even in the bathroom.
The sensors send an alert as soon as it detects a leak. Some leak detectors can even automatically shut off the water once it senses a leak! These simple little devices might save you thousands of dollars in water damage by catching leaks at the source.
If your home experiences water damage this holiday season, contact SERVPRO as quickly as possible! Our friendly technicians can handle any kind of water damage and restore your house quickly. We can even help you with insurance claims.
Protecting Your Home From Winter Storm Damage
Winter weather can be unpredictable in Tennessee. Ice and snowstorms, freezing temperatures, and other winter weather can come with little warning. Winter storms can cause all sorts of problems, from power outages to frozen pipes and wind damage.
SERVPRO technicians are ready to help you recover from any winter storm damage to your home, but with some preventative work, you can help protect your home from severe damage.
Prepare Your Home for Winter
Fall is an excellent time to prepare your home for cold weather and winter storms.
Check your ice melt and snow removal equipment
Make sure you have the right ice melt or rock salt on hand to keep walkways and driveways clear of dangerous ice. If you have a snowblower, check to make sure it’s running properly, and you have enough fuel.
Check the heating and air conditioning
Your heating and air conditioning systems last between 10 and 15 years, but with excellent routine maintenance, many units can last more than 20 years! Schedule a routine maintenance inspection each fall to ensure your system is prepared for the cold months ahead. Change your air filters and ensure everything is running well.
Having your HVAC system inspected also ensures your furnace and water heater have enough ventilation to prevent high carbon monoxide levels in your home this winter. People tend to keep their home closed more tightly in winter, increasing the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Inspect the outside of your house
Inspect the siding and wood trim around the outside of your home. Most patios and decks are built with pressure-treated wood, but wood trim around exterior doors and windows is usually just pine wood that can rot quickly if not properly treated.
Also, replace missing or damaged siding and roof flashing that can let water and ice into your home.
Inspect the caulk and paint around all your windows and doors. Look for places where the caulk is cracked, or the paint is chipping. Replace any rotting or broken wood trim and protect it by keeping the trim properly caulked and painted.
Check the drainage around your home. Soil settles over time, creating places for water to pool around your foundation. Fill any low spots with soil and make sure the landscaping slopes away from your house.
Make sure your gutters and downspouts are clean. If your gutters get clogged, it allows water to back up, then overflow and run down the side of your home. Over time this can deteriorate your foundation and even let water get into your basement or crawlspace.
Add downspout extenders to make sure water runs at least 3 to 4 feet away from your home. If the soil near your foundation becomes saturated, then freezes and thaws repeatedly, it can lead to cracks in your foundation and other significant issues.
Turn off all the exterior water faucets and disconnect garden hoses. Drain the water pipes to prevent them from bursting. If you have a sprinkler system, have your sprinkler service drain your system to help avoid freezing and leaks.
Clean your chimney
It’s lovely to curl up by the fire on a cold winter night. Have your fireplace inspected before you start building any fires. Not only can this improve heating efficiency, but it will also prevent any dangerous situations.
Trim dangerous branches
Fall isn’t a great time to prune trees and bushes, but you should cut off any branches that are rubbing against your house. Ice is heavy and known to wreak havoc on power lines and private property. Trim your trees, so you don’t have ice-covered branches threatening your roof, siding, or other parts of your house.
Check your attic
When the temperatures drop, critters look for warm places to hide away. Unfortunately, they can cause a lot of damage to your attic space. Trim your trees away from the house to make it more difficult for critters to access your gable vents. Tack a screen up behind the gable vent to keep out furry and feathered freeloaders. Also, check to make sure there are no holes in your soffit and fascia that will allow birds to get in.
Look for cracks and holes where warm air is escaping from your attic. Even small holes put extra stress on your HVAC system. Fill any gaps with professional-grade caulk to improve energy efficiency and prevent unwanted critters from making themselves at home.
While you are in the attic, make sure there is enough insulation. Properly insulating your attic will help lower energy costs and prevent ice dams from forming and causing water damage. If the insulation looks old, torn, damaged, or wet, then it’s time to replace it.
Prepare the Inside of Your Home
Fall and winter are the most common times of the year for house fires (December and January are the peak months). People are also running furnaces, building fires, and keeping their homes closed tightly, making it easier for carbon monoxide to build up. Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and replace the backup batteries
Make sure your pipes are appropriately insulated to prevent them from freezing and bursting. Insulate the pipes in your basement and crawl space by putting foam sleeves around them. Another way to prevent your pipes from freezing is to keep your interior doors and cabinets open so the heat can flow through your home.
Preventing Water Damage
Water damage from ice dams and frozen pipes is one of the common ways winter storms wreak havoc on your home.
Pipes are more susceptible to freezing when the temperature falls below 20 degrees F. The outdoor pipes that are most susceptible to freezing are outdoor faucets, swimming pool supply lines, and water sprinkler pipes. Indoors, pipes in the basement, crawl spaces and garages are also at risk of freezing.
Open your kitchen and bathroom cabinets to allow warm air to circulate around the pipes. Let water faucets drip if the pipes run through unheated or uninsulated places.
Make sure you know where the main water valve is located. If a pipe does freeze and burst, you will need to be able to turn off the water quickly to prevent further damage.
Ice dams can cause melting snow and ice to back up into your roof and the walls of your home, causing water damage. When warm air escapes from your attic, it causes ice and snow to melt and create icicles or ice dams. If you notice a lot of icicles forming around your home, pay extra attention to the condition of your attic.
If a winter storm does cause damage to your home, call SERVPRO immediately. Our experts will assess the extent of the damage and create a plan to restore your home fully. Especially when dealing with water damage, it is critical to act quickly to prevent other issues like mold and mildew.
SERVPRO professionals are specialists in water damage restoration and structural drying. Our Disaster Recovery Team can respond quickly with all the right resources to help you recover from all types of winter storms.
How to Prevent Frozen Pipes This Winter
Winter storms can bring freezing temperatures, power outages, and other serious issues that can damage your home and property. Frozen water pipes are a common problem during the winter months, especially if the power goes out or a winter storm brings dangerously low temperatures.
If your pipes freeze, the lack of running water is inconvenient at best and can cause extensive water damage! It prevents you from showering, flushing toilets, doing laundry, and other essential tasks.
SERVPRO water damage restoration experts are standing by 24/7 to help you recover from frozen or burst water pipes. Here’s what you need to know about preventing water damage from frozen water pipes.
What Pipes Are Vulnerable to Freezing
Studies show that pipes are most susceptible to freezing when the temperature drops to around 20 degrees F, especially if your pipes are poorly insulated.
The pipes that are most at-risk for freezing are in unheated areas like basements, attics, and garages. Even pipes in your exterior walls and under cabinets can freeze.
In the southeast, we rarely experience bitterly cold temperatures, so most homes have less insulation around the pipes. Fortunately, there are easy, cost-effective ways to keep your pipes safe.
How To Avoid Frozen Pipes
Some of the best ways to keep your pipes from freezing might not help you conserve water or energy. Still, it’s better to have a slightly higher water bill than to deal with significant water damage.
Let your faucets drip
Allow your faucets to drip, especially if the faucet is served by exposed pipes. Running even a trickle of water helps prevent the pipes from freezing.
It’s not necessary to let all the faucets in your house drip. If possible, identify the faucet furthest away from where the water comes into your house. Turning on this faucet keeps the water traveling through most of the pipe system.
Insulate your pipes
Check all around your home to identify all the water pipes that are in unheated areas like attics, crawl spaces, garages, and exterior walls. It might not be possible to access all the pipes, but it is helpful to add insulation wherever you can.
Both hot and cold water pipes should have at least a little insulation. Foam rubber or fiberglass pipe insulation sleeves can cost as little as 50 cents per foot, and it is relatively easy to install. Even a newspaper can provide a little insulation in a pinch.
Insulating the hot water pipes will also help lower your water-heating costs. It helps heat from escaping as the hot water travels through your pipes, and you might even be able to lower the temperature on your water heater.
Adding insulation to the cold water pipes can help prevent the pipes from sweating. When cold pipes run through the warm, humid air, condensation can form on the pipes and can cause puddles on the floor and higher humidity levels. Higher humidity and puddles can cause minor water damage.
Open and close the right doors
Opening the kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors allows warm air to circulate around your pipes. This is especially helpful if your sinks are on an exterior wall.
While you’re opening the cabinet doors, keep the garage door closed. This helps regulate the temperature, especially if you have water pipes running through the garage (don’t forget about pipes that might run behind the drywall).
Set your thermostat
When the weather turns cold, it’s tempting to turn the thermostat down at night to save a little on your heating bill. Keeping your home at the same temperature all the time will help prevent your pipes from freezing.
If you are planning to escape to warmer climates, leave the heat on to protect your home from frozen and burst pipes. Fifty-five degrees F is an ideal temperature when you’re away. It won’t run up your heating bill too much and will prevent your pipes from freezing.
Signs Your Pipes Are Frozen
There are a few signs to look for that will indicate if you have frozen pipes somewhere in your house. If the temperature falls below 32 degrees F, begin to keep an eye on your pipes, especially in southern climates where the pipes tend to be less insulated.
Frost on your pipes: If an exposed pipe freezes, you will probably be able to see frost on the outside of the pipe.
No water: If you turn on the faucet, and no water comes out, or there is less water than usual, your pipes might be frozen. If you turn on your sink and only a trickle of water comes out, the pipe leading to that faucet may be frozen.
Unusual smells: When a pipe or drain is blocked (like when it’s frozen), the only way odors can escape the pipes is back in the direction of your home. So, one sign that your pipes may be frozen is if you notice odd smells coming from your faucets or drains.
What To Do If Your Pipes Freeze
It’s essential to act quickly when your pipes freeze to avoid further damage. It’s critical to thaw the pipe as soon as possible before it bursts and causes water damage.
The first thing to do is to locate the frozen pipe. This can get very complicated because you cannot see most of the pipes in your home. Look for pipes with frost on them. Frozen pipes might also have a slight bulge.
When you find the frozen section, turn on the faucet that the pipe feeds. Turn on the hot and cold handles to help relieve the pressure and give the water a place to go when it begins to thaw.
If the frozen pipe is exposed, you can use a hairdryer, portable space heaters, and hot towels to thaw the pipe.
If the frozen pipe is behind a wall or in an area you cannot easily access, turn up the heat in your home to help thaw the pipes. If you know where in the wall the frozen pipe is running, you can place an infrared lamp or portable space heater close to the wall. This may be enough to thaw the pipes.
Never try to thaw pipes with an open flame or any method that could cause a fire. Contact a licensed plumber if you cannot quickly identify the frozen pipe.
If Your Pipe Bursts
If a pipe bursts, turn off the main water line as quickly as possible. After you turn off the water, contact SERVPRO. Burst pipes can cause extensive water damage. It’s essential to clean and dry everything correctly to prevent mold and mildew from growing and avoid structural problems.
Our technicians are experts at cleaning and drying water damage. We use pumps, vacuums, and other water removal tools to clean all the water. Our experts use specialized equipment to make sure all the water and moisture is removed before we begin the restoration process.
SERVPRO has all the resources to respond to any size winter storm disaster. We are standing by 24/7 to help you restore your home quickly. Contact us today to learn more about our water damage restoration process.
Water Damage Checklist
Water damage is a year-round concern for homeowners and commercial property owners alike. If left untreated, water damage will lead to larger, more severe problems, including structural damage and mold.
Here are some simple steps you can take to prevent water damage around your house, especially if you plan to leave for an extended vacation. If something does go awry, SERVPRO is available 24/7 to respond to any water damage disaster, large or small.
Annual To-Do List
Mark your calendar to check these things at least once a year to prevent undetected leaks and water damage.
Check your sump pump
If you have a sump pump, test it annually to make sure it is in good working order. Fill the sump pit with enough water to trigger the pump. Listen to make sure the engine is not making any unusual noises and it is pumping efficiently.
If you don’t already have one, consider installing a battery back up so your sump pump will keep working even if the power goes out.
Look for supply line leaks
Washing machines, refrigerator ice makers, and dishwashers use hoses to connect to the water source. Often these appliances use cheap, plastic supply line hoses that can crack or kink easily, causing water leaks.
Check the hoses annually to make sure they aren’t leaking or becoming worn. An easy and cost-effective upgrade is to replace the standard plastic supply lines with stainless steel hoses. You can make the upgrade for just $20 to $30.
Pipe and water heater leaks
Every building has hundreds of feet of plumbing running through the walls and ceilings. While it’s impossible to inspect all the pipes, you should check the exposed pipes around your house regularly. Also inspect ceilings and walls where you know the pipes run to look for any discoloration or dark spots.
Dark spots are one indication there is a water leak in the area. Dank odors, dampness, or water stains are other signs of a leak. To thoroughly inspect the area, wipe each pipe connection with a dry tissue to look for wet spots.
Also, check your water heater for cracks or rust on the outside. These can indicate a small leak or weakness in the tank and should be taken very seriously. Water heater leaks often start small then burst suddenly, spilling hundreds of gallons of water into your home and causing significant water damage.
Gutters and drainpipes
Clogged gutters and drainpipes allow water to pool under the roof or gather around the foundation, causing water damage over time. Clean the leaves and debris out of your gutters at least twice a year to prevent clogs.
Signs that your gutters or drainpipes are clogged include water spilling over the edge of the gutter or dripping out of a seam or joint. Also, if water isn’t flowing from the bottom of the drainpipes, there is likely a blockage somewhere.
Make sure the drainpipes direct water at least 5 feet away from your house or building to prevent water damage to the foundation. If necessary, purchase drainpipe extensions to guide the rainwater further away from the foundation or hire a contractor to install additional drainage in problem areas.
Inspect the roof
While you are cleaning the gutters, inspect your roof for missing or loose shingles and damaged flashing. Call a roofer to make any necessary repairs as quickly as possible.
Loose or damaged shingles can allow rainwater to seep into your house and wreak havoc if unnoticed. Leaks can lead to mold, mildew, and even termites!
Before Going On Vacation
In addition to the annual checklist, here are a few things you should do before leaving for summer vacation to prevent water damage and keep your home safe while you are away.
Turn off the water main
If you don’t plan to have someone check on your house regularly while you are gone, consider turning off the water main. After you turn off the water main, turn on all the faucets inside and outside to let the water drain out. This prevents water pressure from building up in the pipes and causing leaks.
When water pressure builds up in the pipes, it puts pressure on weak or damaged areas. It would be unfortunate if the compromised pipe finally started leaking while you are away.
Turn off the water heater
Turning off the water heater while you are away for an extended time saves energy and prevents any potential water leaks. While leaks are uncommon in well-maintained water heaters, this is an easy action that will give you peace of mind while you are gone.
If you have an electric water heater, turn off the breaker in the circuit panel to shut off the water heater. Modern gas water heaters often have a “vacation” setting on the thermostat. Either turn it to the vacation setting or turn the thermostat up.
Have someone check your home
If your travels will take you away for more than 5 to 7 days, ask a trusted friend or neighbor to check on your house and water your plants every few days. If anything does begin to leak or go awry, it will only be a few days before someone catches it.
Make sure the person who will be checking on your house knows where the water main and the electrical panel box are located in case something goes awry and they need to turn the water or electricity on or off.
Don’t forget to leave your contact information, the information for your insurance agency, and SERVPRO’s information for the person who will check on your home. If something does happen, they will know whom to contact to resolve the matter quickly.
Hurricane Season Water Damage
People might not think hurricanes have much impact in Tennessee, but those who live in the Volunteer State know that hurricane season is flood season. Hurricanes and tropical storms are capable of marching hundreds of miles inland, bringing strong winds, heavy rains, and flooding.
SERVPRO is here to help you get so you’ll be able to combat or respond to water damage from heavy rains and flooding brought on by a hurricane or strong summer storm.
Before A Storm Or Flood
Have an emergency supply kit.
Create an emergency supply kit that will allow you to survive for at least 72 hours on your own. The kit should include water, non-perishable food, and a few essential emergency supplies in an easy-to-carry container (like a plastic bin or duffle bag).
A few of the most important items in an emergency supply kit are a battery powered or hand crank radio, a flashlight, first aid kit, extra batteries, dust mask, garbage bags, manual can opener, and a local map.
Many companies and commercial buildings also maintain an emergency supply kit in the event everyone must shelter in place for at least 24 hours. Be sure you know if your building has an emergency kit, where it is located, and how to access it in the event of an emergency.
Make a plan.
Before a hurricane or disaster strikes, make a plan for how you and your family will respond. Create a plan for communicating with each other. People often don’t have phone numbers memorized so be sure and write down the phone numbers of family members, friends, and important contacts.
Decide on an evacuation route. Some areas may have pre-arranged evacuation routes everyone is required to take. If you live in an area that does not have a designated evacuation route, create several options and identify where you will gather together if you must evacuate separately.
As you create your plan, consider the specific needs of your family. What will you do with pets? Do any members of your family have mobility difficulties that will impact your plans?
Consider flood insurance.
If you live in an area that is particularly prone to flooding, consider purchasing flood insurance. Most standard insurance policies do not cover flood damage but you can purchase “riders” or additional insurance, particularly if your property is in an area that floods easily. The National flood Insurance Program has flood maps that show the risks for flooding as well as flood insurance options.
Take photos for the insurance agent
Having “before” photos for the insurance agent will be very helpful in filing insurance claims and throughout the recovery process after a major storm.
Preventing Flood Damage
Floods can occur anywhere with little or no warning. Taking a few precautionary steps can go a long way to prevent or minimize serious damage from floodwaters.
Before a flood
Move outdoor furniture indoors and anchor heavier objects to prevent them from being blown over or floating away. If you live in an area that is particularly flood-prone, install floodgates, sandbags, tarps, and other “dry flood protection” materials. Focus on low-lying areas around your home or building to prevent water from getting in.
If a flood is eminent or you must leave your property during the storm, roll up area rugs and other items and get them off the floor. Consider putting all your belongings in a basement or garage on wooden pallets and shelves to keep them off the ground.
Turn off the power to your house or building if you must leave or floodwaters are approaching your home. This will make it safer to re-enter your home later. Make sure all electronics are unplugged and stored high enough to not get wet.
Prevent basement flooding
Repeated flooding weakens the foundation over time. There are ways to prevent basement flooding.
The most common cause of basement flooding is cracks in the foundation. The cracks allow water to seep in during a storm. Have your basement inspected by a professional and repair any cracks. Some cracks can be repaired easily with caulk or similar products. Other issues may need more work to ensure your basement is waterproof.
Check any windows in your basement. The wood frame around windows can rot or deteriorate over time, allowing water to leak in. Aluminum or vinyl windows tend to last longer and stand up to water better.
Check the drainage system around your house. Clean out the gutters and downspouts regularly. Blocked gutters or leaking downspouts allow water to pool around the foundation, causing flooding in the basement.
French drains help address drainage problems in your yard and conduct water further away from the building. A French drain is a ditch filled with gravel or rock and perforated pipes that allow water to drain more naturally.
If basement flooding is a common occurrence, consider installing a sump pump in the lowest part of the basement or crawlspace. Their job is to pump water away from the building.
Protect your business
Businesses are not immune to the impacts of hurricanes and floods. Create an emergency business response and continuity plan. This will help your business get back up and running more quickly after the storm has passed.
Keep the contact information of your employees, suppliers, and venders up to date. It’s best to gather as much contact information as possible and make sure you have a paper copy on hand.
Cleaning Up After A Flood Or Hurricane
Shut off electricity, gas, and other utilities.
Make sure the electricity and gas are turned off in your house. Even if the power is out in your area you don’t want to risk electrical shock during the cleanup process.
Contact your insurance agent and document damages.
The first thing to do after a hurricane or flood is contact your insurance agent. The agent will put you in contact with an adjuster. Make a detailed list of the damages and take photos or video as you go through the cleanup process. This will make the insurance claims, application for disaster relief, and income tax deductions much easier.
Remove any valuables and salvageable belongings.
Wipe down furniture and carry as much furniture as possible out of the affected area. Take wet upholstery and cushions to an area where they can begin to dry.
Put aluminum foil or wood blocks under the furniture legs to get them off the wet carpet. Remove any rugs and gather all the loose items off the floor.
Floodwaters from any source are potentially dangerous and often contain bacteria. SERVPRO technicians are trained to lead the cleanup process safely to avoid sickness and make sure everything is disinfected properly.
SERVPRO has storm and water damage specialists who are trained to respond quickly to any storm. A quick response is necessary to minimize or avoid secondary damages after the flood or storm.
SERVPRO will lead you through the inspection and assessment process to determine the extent of the damage. Then they will remove the water and make sure everything is completely dry and dehumidified. It’s important to properly clean and sanitize everything to avoid mold and other secondary issues.
Water Damage Explained
Whether it’s a broken pipe, overflowing washing machine, flood, or storm water, dealing with water damage can be costly, time consuming, and frustrating. Even little issues like a leaky ice machine can escalate quickly if left untreated. But with the right information, help, and tools, the cleanup process can be much less stressful and more effective.
We hope you never have to call us to restore water-damaged property; but if you do, this guide will help you understand the different classes and types of water damage and first steps to take.
Why is water damage dangerous?
Any time a home or business suffers water damage the impact is both visible and invisible. Some of the most common reported water damage incidents involve burst pipes, backed up sewage lines, and storm or floodwater damage. These sources can contain dangerous contaminants like bacteria, viruses, and sewage.
Mold loves to grow in damp, dark areas. Water that is left for just 48 hours can allow mold and mildew to grow quickly, if left untreated.
Water damage can also lead to structural damage, especially if the damage comes from flooding or storm water. Water weighs a lot and large amounts of water can put significant pressure on the walls and floors of a building. Sometimes the structural damage isn’t immediately evident until the cleanup process is well underway.
An often-overlooked secondary risk of water damage is electrical shock. Many people become focused on cleanup process and forget about the potential damage to their electrical wires and cables. Never enter a room with standing water that covers electrical outlets or devices until you are sure the power is turned off.
It is also dangerous to run power cords or use electricity in or around standing water. Turn off the electricity to any area affected by water damage until professionals assess the situation.
Categories of water
There are three “categories” of water that frequently cause damage to homes or businesses.
Category 1 Water does not pose a serious threat to people or animals. It comes from “clean water” supplies like broken water pipes or overflowing sinks.
Category 2 Water contains large amounts of chemical, biological, or physical contamination. Also known as “grey water”, exposure to this kind of water can cause a variety of illness and infection as it usually contains microorganisms, bacteria, and viruses. “Grey water” usually comes from toilet bowls, broken sump pumps, water leaking from dishwashers or washing machines, and similar sources. Category 2 Water does not contain any sewage or seawater so it’s not the most dangerous category, but it can pose serious threats.
Category 3 Water is called “Black water” and is the most unsanitary form of water. It contains harmful bacteria, sewage, seawater, river water, and other similar sources. Often, damage from category 3 water comes from toilet back flows, sewage pipe bursts, or large scale floods. “Black water” is capable of causing serious, widespread illness and infection.
Time and temperature can impact and change the quality of water. Even Category 1 water that is clean and potable can turn into Category 2 water if left untreated for a long time. Category 2 water that is left stagnant or not properly cleaned can quickly become Category 3 water.
Dealing with water damage
Each water damage situation has its own unique challenges. No matter how much damage your home or business suffered, it’s important to act quickly and take the proper steps.
First, turn off any water sources that may still be leaking. Then, turn off electricity to the affected area. Use electricity with extreme caution around water at all times, even when running fans and dehumidifiers in the drying process.
Next, have a professional correctly identify the class of damage and the type of water involved. This will help you address the situation safely and avoid further damage. Because of the potential for mold and other damage to go undiagnosed in even minor water leaks, it is important to have a professional assess the situation.
SERVPRO has specialized equipment that identify the water migration line, what materials were impacted, and where water may still be “bound” in materials even though they feel dry.
Make sure everything is disinfected properly during the cleanup process to avoid issues later on. Have furniture assessed and professionally cleaned. Either discard or professionally clean damaged personal items made of textiles and fabric.
In every event of water damage, if you suspect that contaminated water caused the damage or mold is present, immediately call professionals who are trained to handle the situation safely. Wear safety gloves, goggles, and a vapor respirator or paint respirator to prevent exposure to potentially harmful bacteria, spores, and microorganisms.
Classes of water damage
Determining the “class” of water damage is an important step in the cleanup process.
Class 1 Cleanup: A class 1 water loss only impacts part of a room with limited damage. The impact was confined to a small area and it was only wet for a short time so minimal moisture is absorbed by the flooring and other materials.
Clean up can be as easy as mopping or soaking up as much water as possible. Quickly discard anything that is unsalvageable. Circulate fresh air with fans and dehumidifiers to speed the evaporation and drying process. It is important to thoroughly dry the affected area to prevent mold from growing.
Even if the cleanup seems simple, it’s a good idea to have the area assessed to avoid further issues down the road.
Class 2 Cleanup: this level of water damage usually involves an entire room and large amounts of water, absorption, and evaporation. Damage frequently impacts the carpet and padding, plywood or subfloor, structural wood, and concrete. That means there is a lot of moisture in the walls, floor, and other spaces.
This level of water damage can quickly deteriorate. It is important to dry the area as quickly as possible with air circulation, ventilation, and dehumidifiers to prevent mold and microorganisms from growing.
If possible, remove the unsalvageable items and material quickly and call professionals to oversee the cleanup. It can be challenging to thoroughly dry the area without professional equipment and expertise.
Class 3 Cleanup: This is perhaps the most devastating level of water damage. The building is usually damaged from ceiling to subfloor and practically everything is saturated with water. This type of damage often comes when there is a significant roof leak, a pipe bursts in a ceiling, or an upstairs appliance malfunctions, spilling large amounts of water to the floor(s) below.
Remove and discard the damaged materials as quickly as possible and begin the drying process.
Because of the extent of damage in a Class 3 cleanup, it is best to avoid the area until professional help arrives. If you absolutely must enter the area, take extra safety precautions and wear gloves, goggles, and a respirator.
Class 4 Cleanup: Standing water grows bacteria, mold, and mildew that quickly turns into a bigger problem. Class 4 damage often includes standing water that must be removed with special equipment before the drying process can begin. Because the damage is extensive, the clean up and restoration process can be quite involved.
Typically materials like hardwood, brick, concrete, or stone are saturated and there are deep pockets of moisture. This type of water damage requires specialized drying methods and very low humidity. An example of Class 4 water damage would be a flooded crawlspace, soaked hardwood floors, or saturated concrete. It takes a long time and special equipment to dry these materials and spaces effectively.
Now that you know the types of water and classes of water-damage, you’re prepared to respond to any water damage situation that comes your way. As always, contact SERVPRO for qualified professional assistance with any water damage cleanup to make sure the job is done right.
Frequently Asked Questions About Water Damage
Whether your toddler shoved a toy down the toilet, causing an overflow, a sump pump backed up in your basement, or the latest storm caused flooding and damage, there are a number of potential causes of water damage to your home or business. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions we hear about water damage and restoration.
What are the classes of water damage and why does it matter?
Only licensed professionals can officially classify water damage and the cost of the cleanup process is significantly impacted by the classification of water damage.
Clean water is potable (drinking water). Faucets, sprinklers, water heaters, and sometimes rainwater are classified as clean water. Damage caused by clean water is the least costly to clean and repair.
Grey water usually comes from relatively clean waste sources like baths, sinks, washing machines, and kitchen appliances. All grey water has the potential to carry bacteria, viruses, and microorganisms. It carries only minor health risks but must be cleaned thoroughly to avoid other issues.
Black water is the most harmful type of water. Backed up sewage, floodwaters, wastewater from toilets, and other areas. Black water is full of bacteria, viruses, and microorganisms that cause serious health problems and diseases. Cleaning black water is the most complicated and costly process. It requires special chemicals and equipment to clean up.
It is very important to properly clean up any kind of water leak to avoid more serious problems down the road. Even a small clean water leak from the ice machine can lead to serious damage.
What are the dangers of water damage?
The impact of water damage is not limited to the water itself. There are a number of dangers linked to water leaks, floods, and other types of water damage. It is important to address any leaks as quickly as possible to avoid further damage.
- There is a risk of fire when water comes in contact with electrical outlets and other power sources.
- Mold or mildew can grow on hard and soft surfaces during or after water damage.
- Wood and other building materials can soften, weaken, or rot, leading to serious structural issues.
- Water can cause stains, bad odors, and other inconvenient consequences.
How much does it cost to clean up water damage?
The answer to this question varies widely. The type and extent of damage and source of the water dramatically impact the cleanup costs.
Grey or black water is more costly to clean because you must be mindful of potential bacteria, virus, and microorganism contamination. Using the proper chemicals, cleaning methods, and equipment is very important.
Even though a competent homeowner or property manager may be able to clean and repair some of the water damage, it is important to have a professional assess the situation and determine the extent of the damage. Even trace amounts of water left untreated may allow mold to grow. Professionals can also identify the source of the water and make sure the leak is properly fixed.
Industry professionals estimate the national average cost for water damage restoration:
- Clean water leaks with minimal damage averages $3.75 per square foot.
- Grey water flooding with moderate damage averages $4.50 per square foot.
- Black water damage averages $7.00 per square foot.
How long does it take to dry out water-damaged property?
The time it takes to fully dry damaged property depends on weather, the classification of water that caused the damage, where the damage occurred, and how long the water has been there.
Generally it takes 3 to 5 days to fully dry a home. In the south, humidity and weather can significantly impact the drying process. Even carpet or surfaces that feel dry to the touch may still have water trapped inside. SERVPRO technicians use specialized testing equipment to ensure everything is thoroughly dried.
What are the first steps in dealing with water damage?
You should always contact professional technicians to help you deal with any water damage. But time is of the essence and knowing how to respond quickly can save you time and energy and prevent further damage. Follow these steps before the professionals arrive to get the process started:
- Turn off power to the impacted areas to prevent electrical fires and electrical shock.
- Turn off the main water supply to prevent further leaks.
- Remove any area rugs, furniture, and other movable furnishings from the room.
- Remove any curtains, draperies, and other wet window treatments.
- Move any keepsakes, decorative items, artwork, and personal items to a safe space.
- Bail out or mop up as much water as you can without using any appliances or power tools.
- Open all cabinets, doors, and drawers to help speed the drying process.
- Open any windows to help air out the area.
What is the typical process of restoration?
Every water-damage situation is unique so the process of restoring water damage to your home or business may vary. However, the general process that SERVPRO uses to help restore your property as quickly as possible is as follows:
- Our team of experts thoroughly examines the area and assesses the damage to create a plan.
- The water is removed using vacuums, special suctions, and other equipment.
- Your personal belongings may be moved to another location. It needs to be sanitized and deodorized.
- Our team thoroughly dries your property with dehumidifiers and special fans. Special equipment allows us to test surfaces to ensure everything is completely dry.
- The area may be sanitized and deodorized with air scrubbers, antimicrobial treatments, or other methods.
Does homeowners insurance cover water damage?
While homeowners insurance is usually very straightforward, understanding coverage for water damage can be difficult to decipher. Every insurance company has different coverage policies and regulations so there is not a simple answer to this question.
Water damage is rarely covered by insurance when it is caused by floods or sewer overflows. However, insurance will usually cover damage when it is “sudden and internal”, meaning the damage happened very quickly and the water came from inside the home, like a burst pipe or malicious activity.
Some damage caused by weather events are covered by insurance, like wind-driven rain or snow. The condition of your home is a significant factor in whether your homeowners insurance will cover the damage. Insurance will not often cover damage if it occurred because of corrosion or preexisting issues with your roof or siding.
Water damage caused by slow leaks or neglect typically won’t be covered by homeowners insurance, nor will mold and other consequences of water damage.
While there are probably dozens of other questions you have about dealing with water damage, these are the most frequently asked questions we encounter. Contact SERVPRO for fast, professional, expert help with any kind of water damage! We’re available 24/7 for any emergency fire or water cleanup emergency.