What to Expect During the Mold Remediation Process

Did you know that mold isn’t only an unattractive addition to your home, but a major health hazard as well? Mold can cause consistent allergy-like symptoms, asthma flare-ups, fungal infections, and mold poisoning.

The best thing to do after finding mold in your home is to call a professional to handle the issue right away. Read on to find out what to expect during the mold remediation process.

What Is Mold Remediation?

Mold remediation is the removal and cleaning of contaminated areas from mold. It is an extensive cleaning process that requires a professional to ensure that all mold in your home is removed and won’t return.

Signs of Mold

  • Musty smells
  • Water damage
  • Family members feeling sick without improvement
  • Rust
  • Warped materials
  • Leaks
  • Visible mold

The Mold Remediation Process

Every mold situation is unique, but calling in a professional for mold remediation will ensure that you won’t have more issues in the future. There are several steps a professional will take to remove mold from your home.

Identify The Water Problem

The first step to dealing with mold is to identify and repair the water problem that created it. Moisture provides the mold spores with an environment to grow, and the mold will return if that moisture is not eliminated.

Isolation

Once you remove the water source, a mold remediation company will isolate the affected area to keep mold spores from spreading throughout your home.

Professionals isolate the area by sealing windows or other openings. Then, they cover them with plastic sheeting for more protection.

Mold spores contaminate the air, so a professional will spray affected areas to remove them. This prevents the spread of any dust containing the spores.

Remove Damaged Materials

Any wet or porous surface containing mold needs removing from your home. Depending on the severity of your mold problem, this might mean removing drywall, carpets, or insulation.

Professionals bag up all affected materials and carefully carry them out to prevent spores from spreading in another area.

Cleaning

After getting rid of mold-affected areas, mold removal professionals will spray the area using biocide to keep the mold from reproducing. Then, all non-porous surfaces are vacuumed and scrubbed to remove spores.

Once this step is complete, the area should have no visible mold.

Drying

To ensure no moisture remains, all materials must have time to dry. Fans or dehumidifiers are often used to speed up this step.

Replace Damaged Materials

Finally, any discarded materials with mold damage need replacing. Homeowners may end up replacing drywall or carpet because they often need to be removed completely to keep the mold at bay.

How Long Does the Mold Remediation Process Take?

This process often takes from one to five days. The time to perform mold removal varies depending on the severity of the mold, how long it’s been there, the type of contaminated material, and where it’s present.

Keep Your Family Safe From Mold

Mold can cause serious health problems for your family. If you discover mold in your home, keep your family safe by calling a professional to begin the mold remediation process.

Worried about mold in your home? First Service Restoration is here to help with mold remediation and mold damage. Contact us today.

What to Expect From the Water Damage Restoration Process

One of the worst problems you can face as a homeowner is water damage. Whether due to flooding after a severe rainstorm, old pipes that have ruptured, or some other mishap, water damage is a serious issue.

When you do experience water damage catastrophes, you’ll need to call a reputable company offering water damage restoration.

The right water damage restoration company will have the right staff, tools, and methods to remedy any water damage issues. It will also have answers if you need to know what is water damage restoration.

Here’s a look at the steps involved in the water damage restoration process.

Assess Issue Requiring Water Damage Restoration

When you hire a company that offers water damage restoration service, the first thing it will do is assess the situation. The workers will need to carefully analyze the area where the damage is and the extent of the damage.

They will use special tools, such as moisture detectors, to figure out what sort of work will be needed to remedy the water damage. You’ll then get an explanation of what needs to be done and a quote for what it will cost.

Get Rid of the Water

Once you give the go-ahead for the company to proceed, the staff will use the appropriate tools to extract the water from your residence. The is important since standing water can cause more damage such as mold.

The staff will use tools such as wet-dry vacuums and submersible pumps. Once the water extraction process is over, the staff will once again assess the affected area to see if any things like flooring need to be removed.

Dry the Affected Area

The next step, after extracting the water, is to dry and dehumidify the affected space. This stage is important because it will get rid of the water left behind after the water extraction stage.

If the affected area is your basement, the staff will dry out things that contain water that wasn’t extracted during the process to extract standing water. It’s critical that the drying and the dehumidifying process is thorough.

There will be no guesswork since the staff will use special equipment to check moisture levels in the affected area. Only when the readings are favorable will the company specializing in fire and water damage proceeds.

 

Cleanse the Space

As soon as the water has been extracted and the area has been thoroughly dried, the staff will conduct a thorough cleaning. This might involve having to get rid of things that have been damaged beyond repair by the water.

The staff will use different cleaning equipment, agents, and strategies to clean and sanitize the affected area. Your home will be left in pre-water damage condition.

Get in Touch for Water Damage Restoration

When you have water damage in your home and need help fast, get in touch with us at Service First Restoration. We have solutions whether your problem is mold, fire, plumbing, or water.

Are you asking yourself, “Does anyone provide water damage restoration near me?” The answer is, “Yes.” Our skilled experts are here to help. We will assess the issue, make recommendations, and give you a quote.

For the help you need in your time of need, get in touch to see how we can be of assistance.

 

Stucco Water Damage

Stucco is perhaps the most common exterior finish for Southern California homes and businesses.  It’s economical, attractive, low maintenance, and long-lasting.  It even reduces both heating and air-conditioning loads.  But if maintenance is completely neglected it can leak, leading to extensive (and expensive) water damage you might not even be aware of.

Water damage isn’t just a matter of plumbing, appliance, and roof leaks.  Water can get in through cracks in the stucco as well as through flashing and sealant gaps around windows and doors.  And then it can damage the structure along with the stucco itself.  So in addition to checking the roof, it’s a good idea to thoroughly inspect the building exterior.

Tip:  Thinking of pressure-washing?  Stucco and sealants must be perfect!

About Stucco

There isn’t anything really special about stucco.  It’s simply a mixture of Portland cement, sand, and water in the proper grades and proportions. Typically there are three coats prior to painting: scratch, “brown,” and finish.  The result is moisture and water-resistant, but can still suffer from water damage itself whenever dampness lingers.

Causes of Problems

Improper installation can cause problems within months, or many years down the line.  That includes flashing, sealants, and painting.  The building shifting due to ground settling or earthquakes, heavy winds, or simply age can also take their toll.  The result is that the exterior absorbs rather than repels water.  Patches can fall away, and even the tiniest of cracks are a potential moisture problem.  It’s also important to have a proper vapor barrier between the stucco and the structure along with “weep screeds” at the bottom of the wall.

Signs and Symptoms

Sheathing, wood framing, and insulation lie just beyond the stucco exterior.  All of these can suffer from mold and other water damage, and that damage can be extensive if symptoms are ignored.  There can be a major hidden mold infestation, and the building can quite literally rot from the outside in.

If the water damage is bad enough to notice indoors, then the odds are that there’s hidden damage that’s very bad.  But the sooner you detect problems the less damage there will be.  Here are some important symptoms and signs to keep a lookout for.

  • Cracks, missing chips, and faulty patches.
  • Bumps — these indicate moisture underneath.
  • Crumbling, soft spots, indentations, or bulges indicate serious water damage.
  • Gaps or missing caulk around windows and doors.
  • Signs of damage around windows and doors, indoors and out.  In particular, soft or moldy interior drywall below a window.
  • Stucco remaining damp-looking many days after a rain.
  • Cracks or bubbles near the bottom of an exterior wall.

If you have any doubts, a professional inspection for moisture and leaks can be a wise decision.

Insurance

As with nearly all home and business insurance claims, you’re not likely to be covered if you’ve neglected obvious signs of trouble.  A claim may also be denied if the stucco was not installed by a licensed contractor.  Otherwise, water damage restoration should be covered.

 

Water Damage on Your Ceiling?

Water stain on the ceiling?  Don’t ignore it — leaks rarely go away on their own.  And there could be a lot worse going on above that ceiling. In the worst case, you could soon be facing a sagging, perhaps even collapsed, ceiling and a much higher repair bill.

The cause isn’t always a matter of needing roof repairs after a storm.  It can simply due to age.  Today’s roofing warranties often extend to 20 or even 30 years, but not so long ago they were much shorter.  And there just might be some plumbing in your attic.  Whatever the cause it doesn’t take a dripping ceiling to cause far more harm than just staining or a moldy spot.  Even a slow leak can cause progressive, often completely hidden damage, ranging from cosmetic to the main structure.

Ceiling Signs

If you notice something on the ceiling there’s a good chance it’s one of the signs of water damage.  That could be dampness, mold, water stains or spots, sagging, or bowing.  Whatever you see from inside a room, there’s a good chance something above has also sustained water damage.  Since water can trickle far from the original source, the problem might not be where you think it is.

Roof Leaks

There’s a lot of things that can cause a roof to leak that might not be obvious from a quick outside look.  There are broken, missing, buckling, curling, and damaged shingles.  But also numerous details such as flashing around chimneys, plumbing, and skylights.  Haven’t cleaned your gutters?  That can lead to rain backing up into the structure, even making its way into walls.

There can be a lot of damage before you notice anything within your home or business.  Even when insulation and/or items in the attic have become soaked.  So it’s a good idea to go up into the attic with a flashlight and look at the underside of the roof for dark patches, wet patches, mold, and ruined insulation. Not just on the roof decking itself, but also on beams and joists.  Plus insulation and anything you may have stored up there.  If it’s been a while since you purchased your home or business facility it may be time for a professional roof inspection.

TIP:  Experiencing mysterious allergies or a faint musty smell you can’t track down?  It might be mold in the attic.

Plumbing Leaks

A ceiling leak might the result of a plumbing failure.  In some buildings, pipes are run overhead, especially as part of a re-route to fix a slab leak.  Sometimes hot water heaters are located in an attic, as are central air conditioning units.  Water heaters can leak, and AC units can have a condensation drain get clogged.  If you have either of these it’s even more important to check the attic a few times each year.

Did You Know?  Roof and attic leaks can cause a fire!  The risk comes from wiring, ceiling lamps, and ceiling fans shorting out.

Dealing With Ceiling Water Damage

As with other types of damage, the main steps are eliminating the water source, drying everything out, and making repairs.  It may also be necessary to sanitize, deodorize, and remove mold.  For all but small problems, it’s important to have a professional inspection by a water damage restoration specialist like Service First to make sure everything’s taken care of promptly and properly.

Will insurance cover it?  It should, so long as the damage wasn’t a result of negligence (such as ignoring visible roof damage or a damp ceiling).

 

Crawl Space Water Damage

Most recently built homes in the area are built with a concrete slab as both the floor and foundation.  They can suffer from water damage to flooring and lower parts of the structure if there’s a plumbing slab-leak underneath.  But many, especially older homes, have a foot or more crawl-space between the interior floor and the ground.  That offers “easy” access to any under-floor plumbing and other utilities, but it has its own water damage risks.

What’s Normal?

Most homeowners rarely, if ever, take a look into the crawlspace so there can be serious damage before they notice any problem.  So it’s a good idea to take a look at water and dampness every few months.  You might catch a plumbing leak or even spot insects, rodents, or other pests.

A little water or dampness right after a rainstorm normal, but nothing should linger more than a few days.  If it does you’re likely to have trouble sooner or later.

Water Damage

A damp crawl space can lead to anything from a little mold to structural damage.  Pooling water or just damp soil raises the humidity in the crawl space and can lead to water-damage problems within that space and in the rooms above.

  • Mold shouldn’t be tolerated anywhere in the home.  Even if it’s under the floor spores, allergens, and toxins make their way into the living space.
  • With high enough humidity hardwood floors can cup or even warp and buckle.  Drywall can be damaged, and mold is more likely to grow inside the home, often hidden within the structure.
  • Floor joists and other exposed wood can develop bacteria and even rot.
  • Dampness also attracts insects and other pests.

This is serious enough that a moisture problem in the crawlspace is enough to keep any house being sold or bought from passing inspection.

Did you know?  In older buildings that have never been modernized as much as half the indoor air may have come via a crawl space or basement.

Where’s That Water Coming From?

The two most likely sources are plumbing leaks and rainwater.  Even long after any rain groundwater can seep to the surface underneath a building.  Less likely sources include sprinklers spraying through vents and condensation on cold services.  There’s also a remote possibility that a roof leak has made its way down inside a wall.  And that’s likely to mean serious hidden water damage all along the way.

Remedy

The first step is, as always, to stop the source if it’s a plumbing leak.  Then drain or pump out any standing water, and finally ventilate the space.

You may want to take care of this yourself.  But except for minor problems with immediate remediation success, calling in a water damage restoration expert is a good assurance that things won’t get terribly worse.  And if the problem is a sewer line leak professional services are an absolute must.  Most likely it will be necessary to use negative-pressure ventilation together with personal protection gear, disinfection, and soil treatments.

Tip 1:  If there are only small puddles they can be dried with old towels or newspaper.  But afterward, those materials must be thrown away — those puddles were teeming with bacteria after just a day or two.

Tip 2:  Drying is likely to require more than opening an access door.  Strong blowers and possibly even making other openings are needed to get enough ventilation to dry things out before damage sets in.

Tip 3:  If water was coming from a natural source, consider installing a sump pump or water alarm.  In some situations, it’s appropriate to install a thick plastic barrier or “encapsulate” the soil.  Consult a professional for advice.

Repairs

Finally, you’ll need to repair that water damage — replacing wood, drywall, and other materials to restore structural strength and appearances.  Hardwood floors can often be rescued by special drying mats followed by sanding and re-finishing.  But all materials infested with mold must be removed and replaced.  In some situations, the carpet might be salvageable, but padding should always be discarded.

Insurance

Will clean-up, drying, and repairs are covered by insurance?  Like most other water damage restoration it depends on the source of the water.  If it’s from a sudden pipe failure you’re probably covered.  Otherwise, it’s unlikely a claim would be approved unless you have flood insurance in addition to a regular homeowner’s policy.

 

Dehumidifiers for Water Damage

Had a broken pipe, burst water heater, tub, or toilet overflow?  You need to get everything dried out as soon as possible to avoid a mold outbreak and other damage.  For major incidents, you really need the expertise and equipment of a water damage restoration specialist  But for minor problems, fans and a dehumidifier may be enough to pull out moisture trapped within the building and flooring.

What’s Happening

In natural evaporation, liquid water becomes water vapor in the air.  For indoor areas that means the relative humidity rises.  In a closed area, the humidity can become so high that the air can’t contain any more water vapor, and drying simply stop altogether.  Then in all likelihood, you’ll have a mold outbreak and flood damage to drywall and woodwork long before everything’s had time to dry out.

If it’s not humid outside, using fans to ventilate damp areas may be enough.  But even then, closing off the area and using a dehumidifier can really speed up the dry out process.

Dehumidifiers

Desiccant dehumidifiers use materials that absorb water from the air.  But they’re very limited in how much they can remove.  Refrigerant dehumidifiers are far superior.  Remember those drippy window air conditioners?  That’s how refrigerant dehumidifiers work.  They chill a coil to below the temperature where water condenses back out of the air (the dew point).  That lowers the humidity, allowing the building to continue drying quickly, literally pulling moisture out of the structure due to a difference in: “vapor pressure.”

The Right Stuff

Consumer dehumidifiers are designed for normal conditions, not flooding or a big spill.  They may not allow you to set the target humidity below 50%.  They’ll shut off when the air reaches that value, but a lower humidity would mean a faster dryer.  And their small tanks would require emptying many times per day.

So for big problems, you’ll need to hire a water damage restoration contractor or go for a commercial dehumidifier rental.  They’re capable of removing far more moisture per hour, and their large tanks need emptying far less often.  They’re rated in “grains per gallon” (a typical rating is 55) or the square footage they’re suitable for.  Suitable models also include HEPA air filters to remove mold from the air as well.

How Long?

Many commercial models can remove 500 gallons of water that are soaked into the building per day, bringing drying times down to as little as 12 to 36 hours.  They’re commonly run 24 to 48 hours non-stop until moisture measurements say the job is complete.

Consumer models are likely to take something like 2 to 8 days, if not longer.  And natural ventilation alone may take many weeks.  Since mold and other destruction can take as little as 48 options that’s not really an option.  You want to thoroughly dry everything in the fastest way possible.

TIP:  Don’t rely on surfaces feeling dry to the touch.  Tens or even hundreds of gallons can still remain trapped in wood, insulation, and other materials deep within the structure.  You probably don’t have access to a materials moisture meter.  But you can use a common humidity meter as a check.  Keep fans and dehumidifiers running 24 hours a day until room humidity falls to well below 50% and stays there for at least a day.

But First

If you think you can manage the situation yourself, the first step is removing all standing water.  Then use a shop wet-vac to pull as much moisture as you can.  Use fans to be sure all the air in rooms, nooks, and closets are circulating.  Leave closet and cabinet doors open, and open drawers in furniture.  Move any damp furniture to another area and dry it out separately.  Then get those dehumidifiers running, non-stop 24 hours a day.

Professional Services

All do-it-yourself projects carry some risk, and that’s especially true for flood recovery.  Unless you’re confident you can get all the right equipment and thoroughly dry everything within 48 hours you’re much better off hiring professionals.  Especially if you hope insurance will cover the effort along with any damage.

Service First has an arsenal of special-purpose equipment and supplies for the largest of disasters, including moisture meters, IR imagers, and specialized cleaning and disinfecting.  Plus a certified, well-trained, and experienced crew.

 

Water Damage: The Importance of Immediate Cleanup

It may be a bit surprising, but water has the potential to damage almost everything it touches in a home or business — carpet, wood, drywall, wiring….  Experts agree that the first 24 to 48 hours are the most critical in preventing the secondary harm of extensive mold remediation and other water damage restoration costs.  But why?  What happens during that time?

The First Day

In just a few minutes water makes its way through the tiniest of cracks then soaks deeply into any porous material, including concrete.  Some materials discolor immediately and may be impossible to fully restore.

Given just a few more minutes, that water has sunk in deeper to where normal evaporation can take weeks to get rid of it.  But almost immediately wood (baseboards and trim, hardwood flooring, even structural framing) starts to swell, warp, and split.  And drywall (sheetrock) softens and can soon sag, bulge, buckle, or collapse.  This secondary damage gets started almost immediately, but may take a few days before they become serious.

Likewise, mold spores start growing as soon as moisture is present, although it’s commonly 2 to 3 days before it becomes visible.  With flooding or large spills indoor humidity rises, and that can pose a mold risk to the entire building and its contents.

Worse Water

Worse still, the water can be contaminated by everything it comes in contact with.  For natural flooding that’s bacteria, viruses, and parasites picked up from the soil plus agricultural and industrial waste.  Water from a dishwasher or washing machine contains enough nutrients for bacteria to thrive, and so becomes a health hazard after just one or two days.  And any toilet or sewer backup is a serious health hazard that can become airborne from the very first minute.

Soon

Given a week or more even the strength of the building can be compromised, although with the exception of major flooding that’s a relatively rare occurrence.  But lesser damage can progress completely hidden inside walls, in crawlspaces and attics for weeks or months before it becomes obvious.  Without remediation mold growth spreads rapidly and becomes a health hazard.  It’s removal is unlikely to be covered by insurance in California.

Complete drying takes time.  It’s a tough race to reduce moisture fast enough to stay ahead of its damaging effects.  And if it’s a late start in that race, it may be impossible to catch up and expensive restoration becomes unavoidable.

It’s Time to Act

The longer you wait to take action the higher the risk of extensive damage to the building and the greater the odds of irreparable harm to furniture and other possessions.  Don’t forget that initially harm to the building may be hidden from view.  If there’s any doubt at all, it’s a good idea to have a professional inspection and assessment from a restoration services expert as soon as you encounter anything more than a small spill or overflow.

 

Leaking Roof Water Damage

We’ve talked about water damage from plumbing and floods before.  But roof leaks are another major cause.  It starts in the attic and can progress to major damage before you notice any signs inside your home.  So by the time you see water stains or mold on the ceiling, you could already be in for expensive repairs to roof decking, rafters, insulation, and more.  That’s why roof inspections every few years are such a good idea.  It’s also wise to take a look inside your attic a few times each year, looking for dampness and discolored wood.

Causes and Effects

It’s not just a matter of old or damaged shingles.  Improper installation may take many years to show up as a leak.  The same goes for the flashing around any roof opening, such as vents and especially chimneys.

The plywood under the shingles or roofing tiles is usually the first to begin decaying.  Weakened framing often follows.  Given time, or a major leak attic contents, insulation, and ceiling joists can get wet.  Water can even make its way down into walls and harm framing, drywall, wallpaper, and paint.  All the way down to the flooring.

Here are the 5 major types of damage from a leaky roof.

  1. decaying wood and structural weakening
  2. mold and mildew on ceilings and walls
  3. possible health hazards of toxic black mold, completely hidden in the attic or within walls
  4. fire hazards (!) from electrical wiring
  5. wet insulation increasing utility bills

Signs and Symptoms

And here are the 5 most common indications you have a roof leak.

  1. watermarks or other discoloration on ceilings or walls
  2. peeling or darkening paint
  3. cracked, bubbled, or warping drywall, including ceilings
  4. visible mold, or the musty odors of mold
  5. discolored wood or odd odors in the attic

What to Do

You’ll of course want to have the roof repaired to stop the leak.  Along with that, it’s important to call in a water damage restoration specialist such as Service First for all but the smallest of problems.  We’ll inspect and carefully assess the situation and recommend a specific course of action.

Remediation may range from simply airing out the attic for a few days to aggressively drying and sanitizing the attic, ceiling, inside walls, and even flooring.  And all that takes special training and special equipment for fully successful completion.  If necessary we can also provide professional mold removal, decontamination, and odor removal along with making repairs.  Plus provide documentation for an insurance claim.

Insurance?

It’s important to document any home or business damage and the actions you take to remedy it if there’s even a chance you’ll want to file an insurance claim.

But will insurance cover it all?

The answer is generally yes if the problem was sudden, such as after a storm.  Most policies will cover damage resulting from windstorms and hail, including water damage, provided you address the problem immediately.  But claims will be rejected if they’re a result of negligence, such as not keeping up with maintenance.  Including not replacing a roof after its expected lifetime.  That is to say, leaks caused by normal wear and tear won’t be covered.  Another example would be water seepage from gutters that you haven’t kept clean.  There are also likely to be specific exclusions such as earthquakes and mold remediation.  As with all insurance, also keep in mind that there is a deductible which you’ll need to pay yourself as well as coverage limits (the maximum amount the insurance company will payout).

 

 

Hardwood Floors: 5 Types of Water Damage

Just as the source of water can range from a spill at the dining room table to inundation by floodwaters, water damage to hardwood floors can range from minor discoloration to total destruction.

Despite a protective finish, any source of moisture — even high humidity — can lead to a wood floor’s deterioration.  Water makes its way through the tiniest of openings to be absorbed and then trapped.  The wood swells and mold may invade.  When that happens you’ll want to protect your investment in your home or business and take action to rescue and restore those gorgeous floors.

The Damage and What to Do

The first step, of course, is to stop the source of water then remove as much of it as possible.  The extent of damage then depends on how quickly you were able to act and the extent of flooding, and the type of finish.  The latter can range from “old school” waxes to oils and other penetrating finishes to urethane and other contemporary protective coatings.

  • Stains and Discoloration White-ish spots are likely limited to the finish itself and may go away on their own if left to dry for a few days.  If not, a good rub-down with your usual floor polish should do the trick.  Dark areas are a different matter.  Scrubbing with a toothbrush and a little oxalic acid (a bleach for wood) may be enough.  Or it may be necessary to lightly sand or use steel wool to get past the finish first.  It might even be necessary to sand into the wood a bit, bleach, and re-finish.  In the worst case, the affected area may need to be replaced.
  • Mold can cause its own staining.  In addition to dealing with the discoloration, it’s important to thoroughly decontaminate the area.  And that’s likely to involve sanding, drying, and refinishing.
  • Cupping and Crowning Floor planks can swell from wetness or even high humidity in such a way as to make their long edges curl upwards or downwards.  The first step is to solve the dampness problem.  Given time (several weeks or more) for the planks a well as the underlying sub-floor to dry, cupping and crowning may go away on its own.  Otherwise, it will be necessary to sand and refinish the hardwood floor.
  • Warping along the length of boards can lift them a bit off the sub-floor  It may be possible to flatten slightly warped floors with heavy objects, or to nail them down and hide the nails with caulk.  More severely warped floor sections will need to be replaced.
  • Buckling Warping, cupping, and crowning can be severe enough to lift boards well above the sub-floor  Replacement is likely the only option.

A Few Details

The above actions are just a quick outline of the actions that need to be taken.  If you don’t call in a water damage restoration specialist you’ll need to research them in detail.  Here are a few more things to dig into.

Wood color changes naturally with age and sun exposure, so a sanded area may have a slightly different color.  It takes a lot of skill and experience to apply a wood-stain product to match, so it’s common to sand and refinish the entire floor so that the restored area doesn’t stand out.  That’s part of good long-term hardwood floor maintenance anyway.

Lightly sanding removes the finish and allows the wood to dry out faster.  But final sanding should be performed only after the floor has returned to its proper moisture content.  Otherwise cupping, crowing, and warping may be “reversed” as things return to their original shape.  Full drying without special equipment can take anywhere from a week to as long as 6 months.  Drying too quickly can cause wood to crack and need replacing.

Also, with flooding make sure the sub-floor is also dried, disinfected, and repaired as necessary before replacing and refinishing the flooring.

The Big Picture

The key to keeping water damage to hardwood floors to a minimum is to immediately remove the water then aggressively dry the floor.  Anything more than a spill or small leak can require special training and advanced equipment (such as commercial-grade humidifiers and drying mats) to dry things out quickly enough to prevent mold and further damage.

 

That Water Damage: Old Or New?

You’ve seen some signs of water damage.  But is it from something new that needs immediate attention to prevent further damage?  Or is it something old that still needs looking into?  Not sure why you haven’t noticed it before?  Has it always been there?

Your 5 Best Guides

Water can come from a range of sources.  Pipes, drains, a leaky roof, window, or door….  And small leaks can take months to “show through.”

Here are our top 5 guides to deciding if a sign of water damage is from something new or old.

1 The Material Affected

Hard materials such as brick take a long time to show damage.  So whether currently damp or not, the problem has probably been around for a while.  For other materials, the problem could be old or new.  Wood may warp, split, or buckle.  You’ll probably notice that immediately for hardwood floors, but it may be a while before you spot problems inside cabinets and in other out-of-the-way places.

2 Dampness

For softer materials such as drywall (also called sheetrock, and also used for ceilings), acoustic tile, and wood damage could be recent or from long ago.  Drywall softens with extended exposure, so if it’s still solid the problem is probably very recent, possibly ongoing.  If it’s soft and crumbly it’s been wet for a while.  Large areas may sag or warp, and a ceiling could even collapse.  If an area feels damp the time to act is now.

3 Mold and Odors

Mold indicates ongoing damage to the carpet.  But other materials, including wood and drywall, can also harbor mold.  Mold typically takes 24 to 48 hours to become noticeable after an area becomes damp.  So if you see gray, black, green — or any color — mold the water damage incident most likely began at least 2 days earlier.  Mold can occur on just about any building surface, including those hidden inside walls, inside crawl spaces, and so on.  So your only clue may be a musty odor.  Water damage can also include wood decaying due to bacteria growth.  That too has its distinctive odor.  Either way, it’s time to go looking for visible signs of water or water damage.

4 Water Stains

You’ve probably seen water stains on the ceiling in old buildings.  But they can happen on the walls and ceilings of structures of any age.  Their exact appearance is a pretty good indication of when, and how, they happened.

  • A single dark area with no surrounding discoloration indicates a single incident, usually recent.
  • Lighter yellowish, brownish, white, or chalky stains suggest older leaks.
  • Several rings indicate repeated incidents, probably over some time.  That’s generally the case for building leaks as rains come and go. But some plumbing problems can be intermittent as well.  The number of rings is a good indication of the number of leak/dry-out cycles.
  • The size of the affected area suggests the severity of a leak, not necessarily how long it’s been going on.

5 Expert Inspection

Calling in a water damage restoration specialist for an inspection is the best way to know for sure how long ago a leak caused a problem.  While there they can track down the exact location of any recent source of water or dampness.

In Summary

Water damage costs American homes and businesses some $2.5 billion every year, each claim averaging nearly $7,000.00.  So it doesn’t matter if the damage is old or new — you want the original cause corrected.  If the leak is ongoing, immediate action can reduce or even eliminate the cost of water damage restoration and repairs.