Six Steps to Minimize Severe Water Damage

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Water damage. Two words that strike fear in any homeowner or renter. If you’ve ever had to experience a broken pipe or a leak, you know that water can wreak havoc on your home, ruining walls, warping flooring, and breeding mold that can be disastrous to your health.  

While you want to do whatever you can to prevent water damage from affecting your home, once it appears, it’s important to move fast. The more you let your water damage spread, the more it could cost you. You might have to pay to completely refurbish wooden floors and doors, remove mold or replace siding if you wait too long to mitigate the damage. 

So if you find yourself facing water damage, you’ll want to follow these six simple steps to make sure you minimize the damage that errant water might cause to your home.

Find the Water Source

There are a lot of different ways your home can suffer water damage. You could have a burst pipe, a leak during a storm, or improperly maintained gutters among dozens of other possible causes. Much like how a doctor cannot treat a patient without knowing their ailment, you can’t minimize potentially severe water damage without finding out where the water is coming from. 

So before you do anything, you have to figure out where the water is coming from. Look at the location of the damage—damage in the walls or on the floor are likely to be from a burst pipe, and while damage on the ceiling could be from a pipe, it also could be from the elements.

If it’s a ceiling leak, look at the color of the water stains—if it’s clear, it’s likely from your water. If it looks dirty, it likely is from a roof or gutter leak, where the water might be mixed with mud and dirt and other debris from outdoors.  

No matter what, it’s essential to find the source so you can take your next steps. 

Turn Off or Plug the Water Source

No matter how the water is coming into your home, you’ll need to stop it as soon as you can. If you have an issue such as a burst pipe or a leak, you can turn off your water to quickly minimize damage to your home. (Of course, you’ll need to eventually replace or patch that pipe before turning your water back on). 

If the water is coming from storm damage, you’ll need to do what you can to limit the amount of water that comes in from the damaged area. Duct tape, towels, rags, anything you can use to stop water from flowing into your house should be used—the more water that comes into your home, the more severe your damage will be, and the longer it will take for you to get to work on cleaning up.  

Move All Wet Items to a Safe, Dry Space

At this point, you’ve figured out the source of your water damage, and have taken the steps to make sure no additional water will make its way into your home. You’re now ready for damage control. At this point, the clock is ticking, and anything you can do to limit the spread of water damage could save you thousands in future renovations and repairs

Your next move is to grab any and all wet items and put them in a safe, dry space (like outside, in a bathtub, or anywhere else not likely to soak in any water). Wet items, like furniture, rugs, and other odds and ends are saturated with water, and can seep deep within flooring and walls. You don’t want that. By moving those items and letting them dry on their own, you’ll save yourself massive headaches further on in the cleaning process. 

Dry Up the Affected Area Quickly

This step makes sense—when you are dealing with water damage, you want to dry the water from the affected areas. Don’t use a vacuum here (there’s a risk of electrocution)—using towels, rags, paper towels, and anything absorbent, you’ll want to soak up and dry all the water you can (of course, make sure to put them in a safe, dry area once you’re done with them). 

To speed up this drying, you should run any and all fans, and open windows and doors, assuming it’s not raining outside. The more air that circulates in your home, the faster your home will dry out.  

Clean the Area

It might seem strange to use soap and water once you’ve dried out an area, but this is an important step, especially if the water came from something like a roof leak that would bring in dirt and contaminants from outside. 

Every time you suffer water damage, you run the risk of mold grabbing a foothold in your home, so at the very least, this will lessen the chance of a mold infection. Additionally, mud, dirt or sediment could come into your home with the water, and once it dries and sets root, it’ll be a headache to eventually clean out and remove.

So before you do anything else, you should clean the affected area with some water and mild soap to make sure you don’t run into any issues bigger than the initial damage.  

Dry the Area Once Again

Finally, you’ll want to dry the area you just cleaned. Yes, this approach has you drying your water damaged area twice, but it’s also the best way to minimize the damage you’ll face from the leak, burst pipe, or whatever water catastrophe you’ve befallen. 

Just as you did previously, you’ll use any absorbent materials to dry out the area that you’ve just cleaned, and again, you can use standing and ceiling fans to help, while opening doors and windows to improve circulation. 

When you suffer water damage, it can be catastrophic for your home. But if you follow these six steps, you should be able to minimize the damage. If you’re lucky, and act fast enough, you might even avoid having to bring in professionals to renovate your home. 

But if you want to use your water damage incident as a reason to make some changes, such as updating your kitchen or bathroom, you can always use professionals to turn your water damaged home from a tragedy to an opportunity. 

About The Author: Jeff Good is a writer and content creator with a passion for research and using writing to learn about new things. A lifelong Chicago resident, he loves writing, cooking, and his beloved Cubs.
Photo by Cristina Gottardi on Unsplash

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