What element can be one of the most destructive and damaging to your home?
Many people might say wind or fire, but water is one of the primary causes of property damage and insurance claims in many parts of the United States.
Which is why you should be aware of how flooding and other types of water entering your home can negatively affect your property, the various threats flooding and other water issues pose to your home, and how to react to them appropriately.
When you are dealing with flooding and the associated water damage in your home, time is of the essence.
Moreover, depending on the type and amount of water involved, you may need to bring in professional help for the cleanup and restoration.
You also will likely want to make an insurance claim, which can be complex since water damage affects so many different aspects of your property – but there are public adjusters with the necessary expertise to assist you there as well.
Read on to learn more about handling water damage and flooding with minimal stress and ensuring an ideal outcome.
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What is Water Damage?
Water damage takes a variety of forms, and it can come from a variety of sources.
Some of them have a clear and obvious source, such as a major storm that causes flooding or a broken pipe that causes the basement or another part of the house to fill with water.
However, other forms of water damage are more insidious or sneaky, such as rainwater or groundwater leaking into the basement, a small leak in the roof, siding, or window, or an appliance malfunction such as a broken sink, dishwasher, washing machine, bathtub, or toilet.
Water damage will likely take several days to dry out even if it is minor, so you may have to vacate the property for that time.
When you return, you’ll want to scour the property for cracks, holes, leaks, stains, mold, and any other problems, and toss or disinfect everything that the floodwaters touched.
Category 2 and Category 3 water damage may require the assistance of professional water damage technicians or the property itself may be unsalvageable.
Types of Water Damage
There are various kinds of water damage, ranging from mild to severe.
There are three main types of water damage – Category 1 damage, which is clean water, Category 2, which is gray water, and Category 3, or black water damage.
Water damage is the easiest to deal with, of course, since it is caused by clear or clean water from a broken pipe, a leak that lets rainwater in, an overflowing sink or bathtub, or a similar problem.
Generally, the source of clear water damage can be addressed by a plumber or contractor (in the case of a leaky roof or window) and you can clean it up yourself, provided that you do it quickly.
Letting any type of water sit for more than 24 to 48 hours can increase the extent of the issue and make the entire problem more expensive to solve.
Water damage is a bit more complicated.
It is usually caused by equipment failure like a washing machine breaking and flooding the surrounding area with water that contains detergent, soap, or other chemicals that can threaten your personal health and the integrity of your property.
It’s essential to be aware that gray water can promote microbial growth and poses contamination risks that run the gamut from mild to severe that increase the longer the water stands, so it is important to clean it up quickly and bring in water damage restoration professionals to help and to leave the house until things are cleaned up and disinfected.
Water damage or black water is the most treacherous and includes water from sewers that may contain grease, oil, human waste, toxic allergens, and other hazards.
Since black water almost always contains bacteria and viruses, quick clean-up performed by professionals with the correct equipment and protective gear is of utmost importance.
There is approximately a 90% chance of getting an infection or other health problem from black water.
It is highly suggested that you bring in experts experienced with black water decontamination and clean up if you are dealing with Category 3 water damage.
Furthermore, you and your family should vacate the property right away if you suspect Category 3 water damage or black water in your home and do not return until they say it is safe to do so.
What Happens During a Flood?
When your house is flooded, the floodwaters can contain various unwanted elements, ranging from benign but damaging dirt and mud to dangerous things like bacteria and sewage.
Accordingly, pretty much everything in the home that the flood water touches will likely need to be replaced, including carpet, furniture, clothing, electronics, and appliances.
Replacing everything and disinfecting all surfaces is extra important if you have gray water or black water damage (Category 2 or Category 3) since those types of floodwaters contain serious health risks.
Homes that have been flooded in this manner are sometimes salvageable, but significant damage may make it impossible for the home to be saved due to the many health risks involved.
What Happens During a Heavy Rainstorm or Hurricane?
Sometimes water damage doesn’t come from a malfunctioning appliance, leak, or other interior problem that is limited to just your home – sometimes a severe rainstorm or a hurricane can cause flooding that can lead to extensive problems and water damage.
Floodwaters from a hurricane can include seawater in coastal areas and rainwater from heavy rains further inland.
After you have experienced a hurricane or major rainstorm or thunderstorm, you will want to inspect your property for water damage and work to clean up and repair the issues or hire professionals to do the work.
You’ll also want to make an insurance claim and work with a public adjuster to ensure that you get the proper amounts owed based on your homeowners’ and flood insurance policies.
How to Be Prepared for Flooding and Prevent Water Damage
While the flooding itself may not always be preventable depending on the weather and climate where you are located, there steps that you can take to help mitigate the damage from a flood or other event that causes water to enter your home.
These steps include waterproofing the basement or lower levels of your home, packing an emergency kit in case of flooding, elevating any electrical components such as outlets, electrical sockets, switches, and other wiring, keeping valuables off the ground, and making sure that you have flood insurance in addition to standard homeowners’ insurance.
What Should You Do After a Flood?
After a significant flood in your home, you should stay out of the property, avoid any moving water, and only return to your house once it is deemed to be safe by the cleanup crew.
Always check for any structural damage such as warping or cracks in the foundation, any other cracks or holes in the floors or walls, and be sure to contact your utility companies to check things out if you suspect damage to the gas, electrical, sewer, or water lines.
For minor floods such as the type that comes from rainwater, a window or roof leak, or a faulty appliance, you can stay on your property but you should be taking steps to repair the problem and clean up any standing water as soon as possible.
Water Damage Restoration – When Should You Seek Professional Assistance?
There are professionals – typically called water damage restoration professionals – who specialize in cleaning up standing and repairing water damage, so depending on the extent of the flooding and associated mess you may want to consider bringing in the experts.
This goes doubly so if the water damage comes from gray water or black water since you don’t know what harmful bacteria, viruses, chemicals, or other diseases or hazards may be lurking in the floodwaters.
Does Homeowners’ Insurance Cover Water Damage?
Chances are your standard homeowners’ insurance may not cover water damage from flooding, leaks, and home water system malfunctions, so you may have to purchase additional flood insurance in order to protect your property investment(s).
This is because flooding is usually considered a gradual event rather than a sudden one like a tornado or earthquake.
Flooding or water damage from a storm or hurricane may indeed be covered, however, since that could be considered a side effect of another disaster.
That said, always check your policies to be sure – and even if you don’t live in an area that is prone to heavy rains or flooding, it is good to have some coverage related to water damage just in case of a home water system failure or related problem.
What is a Public Adjuster?
Dealing with insurance companies can be complicated at best, so how do you avoid the headaches and make sure that you get the best result from your homeowners’ and flood insurance claim?
That’s when you hire a public adjuster; a public adjuster is an independent insurance expert who can help you through the claim process and ensure that you get the payout you deserve.
They work on contingency and take a percentage of your insurance payout, so you won’t owe anything upfront – so you can only benefit by working with a public adjuster.
Their services can be invaluable if you are dealing with a complex claim after a major flood or another significant weather event that resulted in water damage.
After all, you have enough stress from the water damage to your home – letting a public adjuster take the reins and ensure that you have all the necessary paperwork in order and your I’s are dotted and your T’s are crossed for the insurance company can be invaluable.
Filing an Insurance Claim for Water Damage to Your Property
Once you deal with the immediate problem of having your property flood and assess the amount of water damage and determine how to deal with it, you’ll want to get estimates from water damage technicians and any other contractors or companies who can make the necessary repairs and do the clean-up in order to determine the amount that you should ask for from your insurance company.
Your public adjuster can help throughout this process, doing everything from gathering the correct paperwork, recommending contractors to do the work, and finally working with your insurance company adjusters to get your bills paid after experiencing a flood and the associated water damage.
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Midwestern Adjusters was fantastic and really easy to work with. Very kind and respectful people that walked through every single detail with us regarding all possible options. Highly recommend going through them for anyone dealing with storm-related damages.
-Jazib G Homeowner
- Evaluate the Impact Our experts perform a thorough evaluation, assessing the total damage to your home.
- Examine Your Policy Determine whether your insurance policy is responsible to cover the restoration work needed.
- Submit Your Claim Our professional adjusters will submit your claim with all supporting documents quickly and correctly.
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