Fact #1: The First 24 to 48 Hours Are Critical
If your home is flooded, the first 24 to 48 hours are critical because this is all the time mold and other microorganisms needs to begin growing and thriving.
Five conditions are required by fungi and bacteria to germinate, grow, amplify, and disseminate:
- Organic food source, especially cellulose (e.g., paper, wood), which are found in abundance in construction materials.
- Moisture, even high humidity (67% RH plus)
- Moderate temperature – 68-86°F/20-30°C
- Stagnant air
- Time – several hours to several days.
Water damage restoration has two main goals. First, to restore the home to pre-loss condition. Second, to prevent the onset of mold and other microorganisms.
In order to accomplish these goals, you need to take action immediately. These are the action steps.
- Contact a restoration contractor immediately to begin the removal of excess water. Once the excess water is removed, the restoration contractor can deploy drying equipment, dehumidifiers, and air movers, which will be effective at preventing mold growth.
- Contact your insurance company to begin the claims process.
Fact #2: Mold Growth Is Not The Only Concern
The other reason time is not on your side relates to the bio-hazard level of the water. There are three hazard levels.
Category 1 Water, also known as clean water, is not considered hazardous because it originated directly from a sanitary source such as a broker water supply line, melting ice or snow, rain water, and/or uncontaminated tub or sink water.
Category 2 Water, also known as gray water, is a health concern because the water originated from a contaminated source such as discharge from dishwashers or washing machines, toilet bowl overflows (urine, no feces), seepage due to hydrostatic pressure, and sump pump failures. Gray water has bacteria present that carries nutrients for microorgnisms that cause sickness and discomfort when consumed.
Category 3 Water, also known as black water, is the worst level of water contamination because the water originated from sewage, rising flood water from rivers and streams, and ground surface water flowing horizontally into the home. Black water can cause death and sickness because it can be contaminated with E. Coli; Acanthamoeba; Salmonella; Helicobacter pylori; Leptospira; Cryptosporidium; Giardia; Hepatitis A Virus; Clostridium Tetani; and Adenoviridae. Illnesses caused by black water include gastroenteritis; Weil’s disease also known as Leptospirosis; Hepatitis; acute respiratory illnesses; and tetanus.
The problem with standing flood water is that the risk of bio-hazard increases as time passes. In short, after two to three days, clean water can turn to gray water, and eventually black water as bacteria and pathogens begin to grow and proliferate.
Fact #3: Water Damage Restoration Should Be Done By Professionals
The immediate inclination of most property home owners is to begin the clean up process themselves and if you do, please take precautions because micro-organisms enter the body through direct contact or by breathing in contaminants. For this reason, always wear protective clothing, rubber boots, gloves, eye, and respiratory protection.
In order to avoid long term health, structural, and mold concerns, we recommend the services of a professional restoration company that has the experience and training to restore your home to pre-loss condition.
Well trained professionals understand that not all water damage restoration projects are the same. When they are formulating their action plan also known as a scope of work, they will assess the hazard level of the water, but will also determine the extent of destruction to create a sensible plan of action.
There are four distinct classes of destruction:
- Class 1 Destruction: The lowest and easiest to deal with, this has a slow evaporation rate. Only part of a room or area was affected, there is little or no wet carpet, and the moisture has only affected materials with a low permeance rate, such as plywood or concrete.
- Class 2 Destruction: With a fast evaporation rate, this level affects an entire room, carpeting, or cushioning, the wetness has wicked up the walls at least 12”, and there is moisture remaining in structural materials.
- Class 3 Destruction: This class has the fastest evaporation rate, and ceilings, walls, insulation, carpet and sub-floors are all saturated. The liquid may have come from overhead.
- Class 4 Destruction: This class is labeled as a specialty drying situations, which means there has been enough liquid and time to saturate materials with very low permeance, such as hardwood, brick, or stone.
Other reasons you should hire a professional include the following:
- Trained professionals have specialized equipment to pump out excess water, commercial grade dehumidifiers and air movers.
- Experienced professionals have the knowledge to properly determine the class of destruction and category of water to put together a scope of work (ie. plan of action).
- Ability to assess structural issues caused by the water damage, which could have long term safety and property value consequences if not fixed properly.
- Advise you on what contents can be cleaned and what needs to be thrown out.
- Create a drying and monitoring strategy using air movers and dehumidifiers.
- Create a sanitizing plan to ensure a healthy living environment.
As a final note, in addition to using the services of a professional restoration company, we also recommend that you hire a third party environmental firm to perform post-remediation verification tests on the air quality to assess the mold spore count and sewage contamination tests if the flood water had category 3 water. These tests should be performed before any reconstruction occurs because it will provide you with verification that the water damage restoration was done properly. There is a cost to post-remediation verification, but it is well worth the investment for peace of mind that the work was done properly. Long term, this final step could save you thousands of dollars and future headaches because if any moisture or bacteria is present after the rebuild is complete, much of the reconstruction will eventually need to be torn down, particularly if there is mold.
— Mold B Gone (@moldbgonega) September 4, 2015