Water can invade your home or property in the blink of an eye, and whether it's due to natural disasters, fire abatement or plumbing mishaps, the resulting damage can be severe. The devastating effects of leaks and flooding can range from damage to your home’s structure or electrical and plumbing systems, to the unchecked growth of toxic mold. That’s why it’s crucial to react quickly and hire a professional water damage restoration company to handle all aspects of the repair.
What Does a Water Damage Restoration Company Do?
Water damage restoration companies handle the aftermath of water emergencies such as flooding and leaks, providing cleanup services, inspecting your home and property for damage, and ensuring that repairs are completed safely and accurately. Although every situation is unique, water restoration companies may take care of the following water-related issues:
- Flood cleanup, including professional water extraction, which can reduce damage by quickly removing up to several thousands of gallons of water from your property
- Mold detection, remediation and removal to minimize associated health and safety-related issues
- Sewage cleanup, including antimicrobial and other disinfectant treatments
- Removal of contaminated furniture and other belongings
- Carpet and wood floor drying or removal, depending on the severity of the damage
- Content and document drying, which can salvage important paperwork and cherished items such as photographs and letters
- Executing or overseeing repairs such as roofing, dry walling, and electrical wiring
What Are the Categories of Water Damage?
The type of work needed to restore your home and property typically depends on what type of water damage you sustained. As designated by the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC)
, there are three distinct types of water damage:
Category 1 — Clean Water Damage
This is the least severe type of damage. It may include appliance issues, overflowing sinks, and broken pipes and water supply lines.
Category 2 — Gray Water Damage
Gray water damage typically involves water from toilets, sump pump backups and washing machines, which may be harmful to humans and pets. Restoration typically includes disinfecting treatments.
Category 3 — Black Water Damage
Category 3 includes the most extreme type of damage and can lead to significant health risks. It may involve sewage, rising flood waters, or sea or river water. Cleanup typically involves removal of household items and significant disinfecting.
What Should I Look for in a Water Damage Restoration Company?
Although some restoration companies specialize exclusively in water damage restoration, others may handle several types of home and property damage, including fire, water and mold. Depending on your specific circumstances, you may want to consult with a company that’s knowledgeable in the relevant areas.
To find and hire a qualified company to restore your property after water damage, make sure to assess the following attributes:
The water damage restoration company you choose should have the following industry-standard credentials:
- IICRC certification, which demonstrates knowledge of concepts, terminology and procedures recognized throughout the restoration industry;
- EPA Lead-Safe certification, which requires contractors to use certified, EPA-approved renovators and adhere to lead-safe work practices when working in structures where lead-based paint has been disturbed;
- Bonding, which ensures financial coverage for additional property loss or damage caused by the company’s actions; and
- Contractors Pollution Liability (CPL) insurance, which insures against property damage, bodily injury, cleanup and defense costs that may result from pollution caused by a contractor’s actions.
Because water damage often requires immediate remediation to prevent further destruction, responsiveness is crucial, and many contractors offer 24/7 service. You should choose a company that can arrive quickly and begin cleanup and repair as soon as possible.
Throughout the cleanup and restoration process, the company should answer any questions knowledgeably and honestly. The contractor should willingly provide their license, certifications, proof of insurance and references immediately upon your request, and should be able to clearly explain the circumstances surrounding any negative reviews that you’ve discovered.
Get More Than One Written Quote for the Damage Restoration
Although the national average for water damage restoration services is around $3,000, costs can range from several hundred dollars to $10,000 or more depending on the scope of the job. Minor services such as drying out a basement may incur a nominal charge, while large-scale projects such as mold removal and foundation repairs come with much heftier price tags.
Based on national averages, homeowners can generally expect to pay the following prices for standard water damage restoration services:
- Roof water damage: $750
- Bathroom plumbing repairs: $250
- Drywall replacement: $240 per four square feet
- Flooring replacement (linoleum or vinyl): $1,000 per 200 square feet
- Door replacement: $500
- Window replacement: Up to $1,500
Pricing may also vary by geographic area and the age of your home, and cost estimates should always be provided in writing. A reputable damage restoration company will conduct a thorough assessment of your property and the damage incurred before providing you with a quote. Ultimately, by getting consultations and quotes from more than one company, you’ll have a better chance of hiring the right contractor and ensuring a competitive rate for the job.
Understand the Water Damage Restoration Process and How it Will Impact Your Living Situation
Once the company has inspected the damage and determined the scope of the project, and you’ve signed off on the estimate, work can begin. Property owners can typically expect the restoration to happen in several stages, which may occur over a few days or up to several weeks:
- Temporary protection: Water restoration companies may provide temporary protection measures, including tarps and board-ups, to guard against ongoing water intrusion, especially during a natural disaster such as a hurricane or flood. If the damage is extensive and affects the structural integrity of your home or impacts your kitchen and/or bathroom(s), you may need to temporarily relocate. Some homeowners’ policies cover the cost of temporary relocation.
- Water removal: After a flood or fire, water may remain on your property. Using industrial pumps and vacuum units, water restoration companies can extract up to several thousands of gallons of water. This reduces the drying time, minimizes the risk of mold growth and prevents secondary water damage.
- Drying and dehumidification: Using specialized moisture meters, a water damage restoration company can detect water in hard-to-access areas and moisture retained by building materials. Venting techniques, air movers and industrial humidifiers can then reduce moisture to acceptable levels.
- Cleaning and sanitizing: A water damage restoration company can execute or oversee the cleaning and sanitization process of your home and belongings. This may involve disinfectant treatments and deodorization to remove any associated odors. For damage involving black water, belongings may be removed completely.
- Repairs and restoration: Repairs and restoration services may range from replacing drywall and carpet to exterior reconstruction and foundation repairs. Typically, once major repairs have been made and the structure is determined to be safe for habitation, you may move back into your home.
- Preventative treatments: A water damage restoration company may also apply treatments to prevent future problems, such as insect infestations or mold growth.
ExperTip: Be mindful that the machinery needed to extract water from a home can be loud and disruptive, and the process can be messy. Consider the comfort and safety of your family and pets first when deciding whether to “brave it ” or seek temporary accommodation elsewhere.
If You Have Homeowners’ or Renters’ Insurance, File a Claim with Them First
Unfortunately, not everyone has insurance that covers water damage restoration services, but if your homeowners’ or renters’ policy pays for some or all of the repair costs, hiring a water damage restoration company can help maximize that benefit and guarantee the quality of the restoration work.
While the specifics of filing a claim can vary from one provider to another, there are several crucial steps you should take to make sure your claim has the best chance of being approved.
- Document the damage. When water damage occurs, it’s important to document it immediately through time-stamped photographs and videos, and written statements that include all relevant information.
- Create a complete list of damaged items to be submitted with your claim.
- Gather receipts for any emergency repairs and restoration services that have already been paid for.
- Contact your insurance agent to begin the filing process. They will likely send an inspector to verify the extent of damage and determine an appropriate coverage threshold.
Along with determining your coverage amount and the benefit payment threshold, your insurance company is likely to recommend their preferred restoration company. It’s important to remember that in most cases, this is simply a recommendation and you aren’t locked in to using this provider. If the recommended contractor can’t begin work immediately, doesn’t have the appropriate credentials or simply doesn’t suit your needs, check with your insurance company. You may be able to opt for a water damage restoration company of your own choosing.Ready to speak to a professional? Here's our list of the best water damage restoration companies near you.