Your home may experience water damage from time to time, but it always seems to happen when you are least expecting it. Insurance companies report that the most frequent type of loss is from water damage. Flooding, sewage back-up, pipes bursting, appliance leaks, and storm damage, are a few types of water damage property owners experience every day. After finding the damage, the initial shock and panic takes place and then comes the flood of questions. How will I fix this? Do I even need to fix anything? Will my insurance policy cover the damage? Well, fortunately we may be able to help alleviate some of your stress when it comes to dealing with insurance and the water removal process.
After Water Damage Occurs
Immediate water extraction and cleanup is crucial when dealing with water damage. The longer water damage is left unattended, the further the water will travel and the more damage it can cause to your home. Some situations are more severe than others and you may need to call a water removal specialist immediately. Most water restoration companies are experienced in dealing with claims and can walk you through the entire process. The first 24 hours are crucial, and in some situations, it is even better to call a water restoration company first, before calling your insurance agent. If the damage is severe and you need immediate assistance, sometimes insurance companies will call out a water restoration company for you, but may take longer than expected.
Until help arrives, removing the excess water by mopping and blotting is a good start to prevent any additional damage. It is important to remove all valuable or sentimental items from the damaged area immediately. You can also turn on the air conditioner and open windows for maximum drying efficiency. Make sure to remove any colored items like rugs, books, magazines, etc., from wet areas to prevent flooring or carpet from staining. Move the wet items to a fresh area with lots of air flow, where they can be dried quickly. Many people think that mopping the area and drying it with towels is fixing the damage but leaving the water damage unattended can exacerbate the situation.
Mold starts growing 24-48 hours after water damage occurs and as long as the moisture is present, mold spores will start to disperse making the home very dangerous for people. If mold does start growing in your home, it is important to stay away from the affected area. Trying to remove or kill the mold by using bleach or household disinfectants will just make the situation worse. Another dangerous situation is when a basement floods, it does not necessarily mean that it is clean water. There are 3 types of water categories and category 3 is the worse because it is heavily contaminated. Only professionals should be handling this type of situation. Usually flooded basements are categorized as “black water” and they are either flooded with sewage water or ground water which contains chemicals and other toxic substances. These are only two situations out of many that should be handled by experienced water restoration specialists. This is why ANY type of water damage should be dealt with immediately because some consequences could be hidden and haunt you later.
Water Damage Coverage
Review your insurance coverage policy because you may not have some water damage situations covered. Even if you haven’t experienced water damage on your property, going over your coverage thoroughly would be a good idea. Most people have the standard homeowners’ insurance policy, which would not cover water damage that comes from water rising from land into your home. For instance, if during a storm, ground water starts flooding into your home, it is usually not covered. If you live in an area with a high flood risk, then it is best to purchase flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Homeowners insurance normally covers water damage that occurs from within the household such as: sump-pump failure, roof leaks, overflows, pipes bursting, etc. If you do not understand your coverage, make sure to speak with your insurance agent.
If you are interested in learning more about mold and the dangers associated, please refer to our Blog. We will just cover the basics of mold coverage here. What is important to know, is that mold is super dangerous and thinking that you could pour some household disinfectants or bleach on the contaminated area and scrub the mold away, is not the right way to treat mold. By “treating” the mold without knowing the science and facts behind it, it would most likely make the situation worse. When dealing with water damage, the last thing you should do is wait before calling a professional.
Not all insurance companies cover mold. The standard homeowners’ insurance policy sometimes covers mold but it just depends on the insurance company and the situation. For example, insurance companies may only cover mold if it is a result of a covered peril. Let’s say there was pipe that burst and the result of the water damage was mold. In this case, a burst pipe is covered by insurance which in return, would cover the mold damage as well because it is considered sudden and accidental. Unfortunately, mold would not be covered by situations involving normal house maintenance; drains leaking, faulty appliance connections, condensation leaks, etc. Each insurance company has their own policy regulations though, so it is always best to make sure your policy has mold covered just in case.
What if I Can’t Afford Repair Costs?
If you do not have insurance, repairs can be costly. Unfortunately, water damage is serious and needs to be dealt with immediately. There are a few options that will help pay for the costs related to water damage repairs. Here are a few options, but if you do your research online, you are bound to find an option that best caters to your specific situation.
Now, this isn’t the favored option, but it is a temporary solution; applying for a loan. If your credit is shaky, there are non-profits out there willing to help low-income and middle-class homeowners by giving you a break. These types of loans do not help with funding for a new dishwasher or those gorgeous wood floors you’ve always wanted, but specifically help with the repairs of infrastructure. NeighborWorks America is an agency that actually helps low to middle income homeowners that need help in repairs of their homes. They help those in need by finding them aid by a non-profit organization that will offer loans for these type situations. This is only one of the many organizations that offer aid or grants to help people in need.
Second, if your repairs are too costly and the living conditions are considered irreparable in your financial situation, contacting a realtor may be another option for you. This may only be a top choice if your mortgage is already paid off or nearly so. Many people buy homes that they can “flip” and selling your home at a low price may be just the trick to get it off the market right away; especially if it’s the perfect home they were looking for! If you do sell your home and cannot afford another right away, leasing an apartment home may be a temporary living situation for you. The plus side, is that they will take care of all the repairs for you and you get to experience all of the amazing amenities for free!
What Affects the Cost of Water Damage Repair?
There is more to water damage restoration than just extracting water and drying the area. Many factors come into play when estimating the costs. For one, the size of the destruction and demo plays a huge role in costs because due to industry standards (Xactimate), the damage is billed by square feet. Second, the type of water and amount of water can determine part of the costs. There are three types of water categories and when dealing with category 1, which is “clean water”, it is easier for professionals to reconcile the problem. Clean water is normally rain water or clean tap water and normally poses very little risks unless there is mold growth from the water damage. Category 2 water, which is “gray water”, is considered dangerous for humans if they consume it because it contains toxic chemicals and poses a health risk for some individuals. Gray water normally comes from washer machines, dishwashers, or aquariums. Category 3 water, which is “black water”, is heavily contaminated and highly toxic to humans. Black water normally contains sewage water, pesticides, toxic ground water, industrial waste, and other contaminants. Companies will always charge more for Category 2 and 3 water than Category 1 water because of the health risks, additional cleaning, and supplies. The amount of water makes a difference in cost as well because it creates more water damage. Furthermore, the amount of water also determines the amount of equipment needed to dry the area and the time to dry which also affects the cost. Every location is different in cost also because some materials cost more than others. For example, if there was a flood and the flooring needed to be torn out, the cost of tile is normally more than carpet because of additional time and industry standards.