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How To Handle Flood Clean Up

The flood clean-up process must be initiated immediately in the event that water has accumulated in the home or office. What steps are essential to take immediately following the discovery of water?

The quicker the procedure is started, the better. It is important to remove existing water and dry out the area as quickly as possible to reduce the risk of mold and mildew, and stop further damage. This involves pumping out the water, drying out the impacted area and its contents, and detecting hidden areas in which mold could potentially thrive. From the furniture to the subflooring, a complete assessment of the overall damage must be done. It is important to have knowledge on the best and safest way to do each and every step of the process.

Is this process one to be tackled alone, or is it more beneficial to hire a trained and experienced professional in the flood clean-up industry?

While many home and office owners may approach the situation as a DIY project for financial savings, their lack of experience and knowledge regarding such a problem may result in further damage to the structure and items inside it. Certified professionals have the knowledge, skills and equipment to work quickly and efficiently to solve this overwhelming problem.

From the removal of the water to the salvaging and restoration of the property, what can a professional in the industry offer that the typical home or business owner may not?

Companies specializing in this type of work will provide an adequate number of employees to address the situation promptly. They are equipped to evaluate the area and begin the clean-up process. While drying out the property is crucial, only a skilled professional will have the know-how to determine if disinfecting or other precautions are  necessary based on the source of the water and the extent of the damage. Assessing for structural damage is an aspect that only skilled contractors with the proper moisture sensing equipment can perform, and if this task is not completed properly it could result in future complications. They are aware of the precautions that must be taken like shutting off the electricity and natural gas to the area, and protecting themselves against possible animals that may have come in with the water. Those not trained in such work may put themselves at risk if unaware of these safety measures. In addition, a reputable company will be able to work as a liaison between the property owner and their insurance company when working through the claims process.

Are there any official standards in place regarding water damage restoration?

The US government does not have regulations in place to standardize water damage restoration, yet the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification, IICRC, has its own suggested procedural standards known as the S500. They were established to lay the groundwork for professionals in the industry.

Under the IICRC S500 the state of the water involved is placed into 3 categories:

  • Category 1 - has come from a sanitary source such as a clean toilet tank, bottled water, or broken and uncontaminated water lines.
  • Category 2 - contains some amount of contamination that could cause illness if ingested. This water may originate from the dishwasher or washing machine overflow, or toilet runoff that only contains urine.
  • Category 3 - is extremely unsanitary and could result in severe health problems or even death if consumed. It may come from sewage, feces polluted water, a flooded river, or standing water that has had time to produce microbial growth.


Category 1 and 2 can quickly escalate to the next level if not addressed quickly or exposed to rising temperatures or additional contaminates.

The S500 also distinguishes between the types of water damage that can occur:

  • Class 1 - has seen a low volume of absorbed moisture and evaporation. It typically impacts only a portion of space and may not have affected the flooring and surrounding objects.
  • Class 2 - involves a larger volume of water and can include a whole room with walls wicked under two feet.
  • Class 3 - sees the largest amount of water with walls wicked above the two foot mark and the entire space soaked. Water is frequently found in walls, carpet, sub-flooring, and insulation.  
  • Class 4 - involves non-porous surfaces and may include large pockets of moisture.


Why is it important to work with IICRC-certified technicians when a home or office has been damaged by water?

Industry professionals that are certified under the IICRC standards have the knowledge and hands-on experience necessary to ensure the flood clean-up process is carried out correctly and completely. They are educated in identifying the location and causes for the moisture, assessing current and potential mold growth, and controlling the damage while eliminating any irreversible contamination. In addition, they are equipped with the proper tools and materials that will assist in bringing the property back to its previous condition. The IICRC website can provide information regarding certified professionals in most geographic areas.




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