When treating water damage, it’s crucial to act quickly. But when a pipe bursts or a flood occurs in your home, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the resulting mess. Staying informed and preparing an action plan can go a long way in helping you reduce the impact of water damage. Moreover, a basic understanding of your insurance policy and the claims process can help you work with your insurance company! So, here are five things that every homeowner needs to know about responding water damage.
DOCUMENT AND REPORT THE WATER DAMAGE
Before bringing in professionals to help repair the damage or remove water from the area, it’s important to document the damage for your insurance company. Taking photos from various angles and recording videos will verify your insurance claims and help your chances of being reimbursed for expenses related to fixing the damage. Digital images and videos are ideal because they can be stored electronically and are easily copied. Claim adjusters can help you compile compelling and irrefutable documentation of the damage.
Once you have documented the damage, you should immediately notify your insurer. Keep your insurance company and local agent’s phone number in an easily accessible emergency bag and save them in your electronic devices. It is crucial to consult with an adjuster before making any repairs. Be sure to follow your insurance company’s directions and to carefully document your conversations with them.
SECURE ELECTRIC, GAS, AND WATER LINES
Water and electricity don’t mix! If you are experiencing water damage, unplug and remove electronics from the area. Clear all movable furniture from the space quickly. The faster you remove your furniture from the water-damaged area, the more likely it is to be repairable. Turn off power leading into the affected area, especially if water rises above electrical outlets. Invest in portable electronic chargers so you can charge your electronic devices even if your power is off.
If the water is coming from a burst pipe, you will need to turn off the water. You can turn the water off from several places, including the fixture and the main water line. Shutting off the main valve that controls all the water for your home is the best protection against catastrophic water damage. Everyone in your home should know where the main water shutoff valve is located so they can stop the water in an emergency. If you’re not sure where it is, look for your water meter; the main shutoff will be located nearby.
PROTECT YOUR HEALTH
Even if the water in your home is clear, it could be contaminated by sewage or household chemicals. Wearing waders, hip- or waist-high waterproof boots when inspecting your home can help prevent infection and exposure to dangerous chemicals. Additionally, you should wear rubber gloves when removing water-damaged possessions to avoid contaminants. Throw out any food that may have come into contact with flood waters. Store clean drinking water in your garage or attic. In the event of a flood, FEMA recommends boiling or filtering water until authorities declare the water supply is safe.
REMOVE THE WATER
When your home suffers water damage, it’s important to hire a professional company to help you get rid of the water. The professionals will help you responsibly dispose of the water using drains, wet/dry vacuums, and/or sump pumps. Be sure to thoroughly document the damage before removing any water and save all your receipts and documents. Getting rid of all the water and drying out the area is crucial to preventing mold growth.
REMOVE WATER DAMAGED FURNISHING AND CARPETS
Mold can develop within 24 to 48 hours of a flood, so it’s important to remove wet contents, including carpeting and bedding, as soon as possible. Be sure to bring in a professional team to help you remove damaged items and clean them. As always, be sure to notify your insurance company before removing items to ensure that you are not affecting your coverage. Photograph the water-damaged items including furnishings such as rugs, which may require professional cleaning. Large pieces of furniture that are saturated will likely be difficult to dry effectively and will most likely need to be discarded.
Interested in learning more about insurance claims and water-damage? Give us a call to learn more about how we can assist you with your claim!