Updated: Feb 1
Depending on where you live, water damage to your home will either be top of mind or out of mind. It can, however, happen to anyone at any time, sometimes when you least expect it. You may one day walk downstairs to a flooded basement or a leaky dishwasher, with panic often resulting in either scenario. When it comes to water damage, the most important thing is to remain calm and know it can be resolved. Here are the ways to know how to spot it, whether or not you should fix it yourself, and when to call in the professionals. As always, we have included how much it would really cost to fix it yourself or hire a professional.
How to Spot Water Damage
There are a number of different ways to spot water damage, some more telling than others. Below are highlights from a list from Pacific American Title on what to look for:
Water stains - look for yellow spots on the walls, ceilings, and floors
Swollen drywall - yes, it will bubble up and out
Rotting wood - check out the floors, ceiling beams, and more
Gross smell - excess humidity has a very distinguishable smell, think rotten eggs and wet dog
Dripping sound - this may only indicate a new leak, but if it has been there long enough, there will also likely be water damage
Damp walls - yes, they will be moist to the touch
Rusty metal - hello, science class
Roof damage or cracked walls - both can indicate a number of different problems, and water leaking in is one of them
The tricky part about water damage is that the longer you leave it, the worse it gets. It is best to act as soon as it happens, especially if you want to fix it yourself. Wet materials can begin molding after just 24 hours. Step one is to turn off the water supply, if possible and electricity. Step two is to determine what type of water caused the damage. This will be the first sign of whether or not you will need to call a pro. “Clean” water from rain, condensation, leaky pipes, etc. is relatively easy to clean up. “Gray” water is slightly contaminated, such as water from a dishwasher, washing machine, clean toilet, etc. Since this water may have some contaminants, it is wise to take proper safety measures to protect yourself when cleaning it up yourself. “Black” water comes from sewage or flooding contains many contaminants and should only be handled by professionals.
If you can clean the water yourself, the next step is to look for signs of mold. This will require proper precautions, as some types of mold are poisonous to humans. Small molded areas can simply be cut from the wall, bagged, and disposed of. Larger outbreaks should be left to the pros.
Once the mold is removed or none is found, follow these steps:
Dry out the area ASAP so no further damage is done.
Remove and discard any porous materials that got wet. These include carpet, insulation, fabric, and the like, as well as unsealed cement, drywall, or wood.
Disinfect the remaining area with a bleach solution to ensure no mold is left behind.
Then, it is time to begin repairing. This is the suggested order from the Family Handyman (Note: not every scenario will need all areas replaced, though it is recommended that you check them all out):
Flooring (make sure it is sealed this time!)
Caulk and seal all new materials to prevent future water damage
This type of repair can drastically vary in price. According to Mighty’s trusted contracting partners, it can cost anywhere from a few hundred to thousands of dollars depending on the amount of water damage, and the finishings that were affected.
When to Call a Professional
As previously mentioned, bigger, more dangerous jobs require a professional contractor to fix. When it comes to water damage, there is often more than meets the eye. Water can seep into floor boards or ceiling beams and go unnoticed for a long period of time, until the materials slowly rot away. We recommend always having a pro come through to inspect the damage and see if it is truly just a minor problem. Mighty’s trusted contracting partners estimate that an inspection like this could range from free to about $250, but most insurance companies cover costs after a claim is filed. The repair itself could range anywhere from $200 to over $3,000, depending on how much damage was done.
If water damage or any other issue came up on your inspection report, upload it to Mighty’s website today to get a regionally-based, accurate estimate on what it will cost to repair it in just 24 hours.