Water damage to physical property remains the most common type of loss in most parts of the country. There are a few states, like Texas, Oklahoma and Colorado, where hail and wind prevail, but damage by water is far more common for most public entities. It can be caused by, rain, wear and tear to plumbing and other infrastructure or simple negligence. Whatever the cause, the longer the water damage goes untreated, the worse the damage gets and the more expensive the repairs become.
Evidence of water damage may be immediately visible as ponding, staining or even partial collapse of building materials. Typically these issues receive an immediate response, hopefully by a qualified water mitigation company who can immediately assess both the category (how dirty is the water?) and class (how much property is damaged?) of the water damage. These companies should also use non-obtrusive thermal imaging cameras and moisture meters to locate all the areas of water damage so that the drying, or mitigation plan, can take all the excess water into account. Failure to do this will often lead to latent mold claims from untreated damaged property.
Gradual water losses without noticeable water damage, such as small stains that slowly become bigger, are usually treated with a slower response time. However, these issues also require immediate vigilance in order to keep damages to a minimum.
Many properties have on-site building engineers who may be the first responders. They may even have access to air movers and a basic dehumidifier or two. Unless the engineer has specific training in locating and drying properties (training typically provided by the IICRC – the Institute for Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification), the use and placement of the equipment may not be adequate, and, especially in the case of gray or black water, may actually make the problem worse. The key for the building engineers should be to locate the source of the water and remove or remedy it (by their own repairs, by using a plumber or roofer, etc.).
Depending on the age of the structure, other environmental issues may also need to be taken into account – notably asbestos and lead. For properties built before 1980, an asbestos and lead map of the buildings showing where (if any) these materials may be found can significantly expedite the water mitigation. Some jurisdictions will still require a specific test for these materials before any “destructive” mitigation may occur – such as partial drywall, plaster or flooring removal. Most qualified restoration companies have relationships with qualified industrial hygienists who can expedite these tests so that mitigation is not delayed.
Failure to mitigate within 24-48 hours of the loss can, and often does, lead to additional mold damage as well as possible structural damage to the framing and foundation of the property. So, don’t delay and make sure your next water loss is not an unmitigated disaster!