What Should You Do After a Water Disaster?

Feb 17 2017

Water damage can get expensive! Depending on the source of the damage, you could be looking at costs over $10,000. In order to keep costs down, keep this information in mind in order to decrease the damage caused by water, plus take full advantage of your homeowner’s insurance.

How Soon Do I Need to Act?

If you’re finding water damage in your home, act Immediately. The longer the water stays in your home, the more damage is caused. In fact, it’s important to clean anything damaged by water within 24 to 48 hours to prevent mold growth. Here’s a timeline of how fast damage starts to occur after water has been left to stagnate in your home.

A timeline of how fast water can damage your home.

What to Do After Your Home Has Been Damaged

You don’t want the effects of your water damage to linger and get worse. Take these steps next:

1. Identify the Source of the Water Damage

Knowing where the water damage comes from can help determine what actions you should take next, and it can determine if the water problem is safe to enter. There are three common types of water based on the source:

  • Category I – Clean Water. This is water that doesn’t have any chemicals or bacteria in it and is the most safe kind of damage. Some examples of water damage caused by Category I water include: burst or frozen pipe, ice dams, leaky roof, burst water heater, or flooding because of heavy rains.
  • Category II – Gray Water. This water may have some harmful bacteria or chemicals that could be hazardous to your health. Be careful when cleaning up this type of water, and make sure not to ingest it. Category II water includes: dishwasher run-off, washer overflow, a garbage disposal leak, and in some cases toilet overflow.
  • Category III – Black Water. Black water is a type of water that is hazardous. If you find your home has been damaged by Category III water, do not attempt to clean it up yourself. Leave it to the professionals. Examples of Category III water include: sewage backup, clogged toilet overflow, or any type of chemical spill.

Some signs of water damage are more obvious, such as pools of water, but others may be less obvious, such as a sagging ceiling. Pay attention to the smell of your home, as water damage is often accompanied by mold growth.

2. Safely Stop the Cause of Water (if Possible)

Depending on the cause of the water, whether it’s Category I, II, III may determine if it’s possible to stop the water source. If you’re dealing with Category II or III water, it may be beneficial to just wait for professionals to arrive and mitigate the situation.

If you are dealing with a flooded basement, it’s crucial to take note of the water level. If the water is past the electrical outlets, do not enter the water. You could be at risk of an electrical shock if you wade into the room.

3. Call Your Insurance Company

Once you’ve stopped the water, you’ll need to open up an insurance claim, and it may be beneficial to review your deductible and coverage amount with your insurance company. Your insurance company may schedule a time for an insurance adjuster to come to your home to assess the damage and determine what’s covered and what isn’t.

Should I Call my Insurance Company or Stop the Water First?
Your insurance may be less likely to cover the damage if you didn’t first take the steps to prevent the water damage from getting worse. So, stop the damage, then call the insurance company, whether it’s shutting off your water supply or putting containers where water is leaking in to catch whatever water is leaking into your home.

Will My Insurance Cover the Water Damage?
Some causes of water damage are covered, while others, such as flooding from heavy rains are not covered under homeowner’s insurance. Instead, it may be covered by flood insurance, which is an entirely different policy. Depending on where you live in Minnesota, you may be required to get flood insurance based on if you live on a floodplain.

Read more: What’s Covered By My Homeowner’s Insurance Policy?

4. Call a Restoration Company

When it comes to water damage, it’s better to leave it to the professionals. A restoration company can safely remove the water, dry any damage, and determine what can be kept and what should be replaced, such as carpet.

Make sure to look for a full-service restoration company. Depending on the extent of the damage, you may need some reconstruction-work done in order to fix the structure of your home if it was damaged by mold. A full-service company not only removes the water and mold, but also does any necessary rebuilding.

5. Take Pictures and Document the Damage

While you’re waiting for the restoration company to come, make it easier on yourself with the insurance process by taking pictures of the damage. Documenting any damage makes your case stronger when the insurance adjuster comes to validate your claim. Before a disaster strikes, it may be beneficial to have photos on hand of all your valuables, so you can have a clear before and after of what was lost.

Download our free insurance guide to learn more about how to navigate the insurance process after a home emergency.

Download Guide

6. Leave It to the Restoration Company

Once you’ve done everything you can, it’s best to leave everything else to the restoration company. They’ll take care of the rest, from drying your home and mitigating mold to dealing with your insurance company.

Want More Tips?

Don’t get caught unprepared in the case of a water emergency! You can download our quick guide to water emergencies to keep somewhere easy to remember.
Infographic detailing what to do in the case of a water emergency.

You can also check out our complete guide to water damage for more information on specific kinds of water damage, and how to prevent a water emergency in your home. If you have any questions about what to do when water damages your home, don’t hesitate to give us a call!

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