10 Tips for Handling Water Damage Repair

C.E. Larusso
Written by C.E. Larusso
Updated July 20, 2021
Puddle of water in kitchen
cunaplus / Shutterstock.com

Here’s how to restore your home from any water damage—and prevent it from happening again

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 If you’re reading this, it’s likely you’ve spotted signs of water damage in your home. While water damage can be a pain to deal with, don’t panic! This guide will offer the best tips for water damage repair.

Why Water Damage Occurs

You might think of water damage in relation to major natural disasters, like hurricanes, tsunamis, and monsoons, but it can occur when there is any leakage in your home, whether from an old pipe, blocked gutters, or even condensation from your air conditioner.

It is not something to sleep on—water damage can ruin a home fast, within mere hours wrecking furniture, warping wood floors, and creating serious mold and mildew problems.

Identify the Source

There are many places where water damage can originate. Here’s some of the most common:

  • Extreme weather

  • Leaking pipes or water heaters

  • Washing machine supply line leak

  • Air conditioner condensation

  • Broken sprinkler system

  • Clogged gutters

Tips to Handle a Restoration After Water Damage

1. Dry Out the Area

This seems obvious, but time is of the essence and you should make sure you have checked the entire house for water where it shouldn’t be, and while you are taking care of any standing water, make sure to open the windows and doors. You should also use fans and dehumidifiers to create as much airflow as possible where the damage occurred. If you point fans facing an open window, this will help move moisture away from your home.

2. Get Furniture Off the Ground

Use bricks to elevate your couch, desk, and other furniture. If you live in a sunny area, you can also place your furniture outside to dry. If your favorite chair is totally soaked, you might need to say goodbye—porous materials are highly susceptible to water damage and can develop mildew.

3. Get Rid of the Dirt

It’s not the water itself that causes mold and mildew to grow—it’s the combination of water and dirt (and other organic matter). So once you’ve mopped up any standing water, be sure to scrub the area with a mild detergent (or whatever cleaner is appropriate for the surface).

4. Get a Wet/Dry Shop Vac

If you have wet carpet or rugs, you can call a hardware store and see if they have a shop vac that is safe for wet areas. These cost about $50 for a 6-gallon vac, and $170 for a 16-gallon machine. They are also available for rental.

5. Sand Down Your Water Damaged Floor

After your wood floors have been cleaned and dried, they may show signs of cupping, which is when they appear convex or concave. You might be able to sand the floorboards down with a drum or orbital sander to flatten some of the damaged area. For boards that have lifted up, you will need to nail them back down.

6. Check the Ceilings

You already have a minor flood in your house—the last thing you need is a sagging ceiling. Be sure to look up and see if any ceiling panels have been affected by the incident. If they have, you’ll want to remove them immediately and investigate to see if the roof is also damaged.

7. Replace Laminate

If you have laminate floors that look similar to hardwood, know that they act quite differently when exposed to standing water. Laminate flooring traps moisture and swells up, so if it’s been damaged by water it will need to be replaced.

8. Measure and Replace Drywall

If your drywall has visible damage over three-eighths of an inch from the baseline, you must replace the whole sheet. If not, you can cut out and replace the warped portions.

9. Re-caulk

After any damaged flooring has been replaced, you should reseal it with fresh caulk (and paint, where applicable) to prevent future water damage issues.

10. Install Water Detection Devices

Even after you’ve cleaned up the waterfall, you’ll want to monitor the moisture levels in your home so no more damage occurs. A water detection device is an alarm for moisture; place one near washing machines, toilets, dishwashers, and other similar items to catch a problem before it gets out of control.

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