Water damage is caused by a number of things including flooding, burst or leaky pipes, fire hoses, and regular humidity. Water damage is typically very severe because it impacts every aspect of your home. It can rots the wood in your floors, furniture and walls. It can rust the steel and other metal items. It can de-laminate plywood. It can completely ruin important documents, family photos and memorabilia.
To protect your home from water damage you must first understand the various types of water and the damage it can cause. The three classifications of water that causes damages are Clean, Grey and Black.
This type of water damage does not pose a health risk to humans and is really just incredibly annoying. An overflowing sink or tub or leaky appliance are examples of Clean Water damages.
This type refers to water that contains degrees of chemical, biological or physical contaminants. This can lead to sickness in humans and animals if consumed or exposed. Toilet bowls, dishwashers and washing machine leaks are the most common kinds of Grey Water.
This classification contains highly unsanitary agents such as bacteria and fungus which can lead to severe illness. This classification is most rare and comes mainly from sewage, seawater, and contaminated river or stream water.
Water Damage Restoration
Water damage restoration techniques vary greatly depending on the water classification. It is important to know what classification of water you are dealing with before you attempt any restoration projects. If you suspect the water to be of either Grey or Black classification, contact your state environmental protection agency or the water bureau to have your home evaluated.
There are primarily two good techniques used to restore water damaged materials (documents, photos, books, etc).
This restoration process removes moisture from the air quickly and safely, effectively salvaging important documents and helping prevent mold growth. The process involves dehumidifying the air surrounding the damaged documents or personal effect, allowing the water molecules trapped in the damaged items to escape into the air. Desiccant dehumidification is a great restoration option available through some document reprocessing services. It is especially beneficial for businesses and government agencies because the process allows for documents to be accessible for use throughout the process should the need arise.
This process is best for books, binders, and any bound printed matter. Freeze-drying restoration works on a similar premise as dehumidification but in a contained chamber and at much lower temperature. If you can, find a service that offers vacuum freeze-drying as this process will not warp the way regular freeze-drying can.
Time is of the essence when it comes to water damage. Starting the process of restoring your assets as soon as possible will increase the likelihood that your items can be restored to a usable state again. Additionally, mold can quickly become a secondary effect of water damage if time is allowed to pass. To help move quickly after a flood or other water damage, have an emergency plan in place ahead of time.
Water damage has the potential to ruin an entire business or home. Pre-planning and education coupled with a fast-acting, properly equipped damage recovery team can make all the difference in your life returning back to normal.
~Ben Anton, 2008