What To Expect During a Water Damage Cleanup Process

Water damage is one of the most devastating things a property owner can experience. It can result from natural disasters like floods, plumbing issues, broken appliances, sewer backups, or water from putting out a fire.

Whatever the cause, water damage can cause a lot of structural damage to the property in a short time if it is not taken care of. That could include foundation weakness, ceiling and wall cracks, water stains, bubbling or peeling paint, and damaged floors. It could also result in health issues because of the growth of mold and mildew.

Therefore, homeowners should call a water restoration company immediately after noticing even the slightest signs. Knowing the water damage cleanup process is essential to understanding what to expect.


Water Damage Inspection

Experts do this to determine the cause of water damage, the water damage class, and the water contamination category. It is also the step where they shut off any running water after determining the source.

There are three water contamination categories depending on the water source, and it helps professionals determine the best decontamination later.

  • Category 1-Also known as white water, this is clean water from sanitary sources like pipes, water heaters, and sinks, which poses no significant health risk.
  • Category 2-This is gray water with significant contaminants and significant health risks when consumed or touched. It comes from sources like washing machines and dishwashers.
  • Category 3-This is black water with hazardous contaminant levels. It comes from toilet backflows, seawater intrusions, sewage leaks, etc.

There are three water damage classes, which determine how much repair work the professionals need for restoration.

  • Class 1-This is below 5% damage on wet porous materials and minimal damage on low evaporation materials.
  • Class 2-5-10% on wet porous materials and minimal damage on low evaporation materials.
  • Class 3-Over 40% on wet porous materials and minimal damage on low evaporation materials.
  • Class 4-Over 40% on wet porous materials and significant damage on low evaporation materials.

Wet porous materials include gypsum board, carpet, fiber-fill insulation, and textiles. Low-evaporation materials include concrete, wood, plaster, and masonry.

Extract Standing Water

This is primarily important when there is a flooded basement. Extractors include submersible pumps and industrial vacuums. After removing the standing water, professionals can use portable wet or dry vacuums to extract the surface water.

They also use thermal infrared cameras or moisture meters to discover hidden saturation pockets under floorboards or behind walls.

Before the professionals arrive, property owners need to try to remove the standing water. They can do that using buckets or plastic tabs. They can also use mops to absorb excess water, especially in areas that are difficult to reach with the buckets.

Drying And Dehumidification

At this point, properties usually look dry, but there might still be some wet materials. They could result in mold growth, breaking, and warping if left alone.

Professionals use equipment like commercial-grade dehumidifiers and heavy-duty fans, including air movers, to dry the surfaces. They also open the doors and windows, increasing airflow.

This is usually the longest step in the water damage cleanup process, especially if there is a class three or four water damage that requires the removal of some floor or wall parts.

Cleaning And Sanitizing

Cleaning can be in the form of dry, wet, or spray and wipe cleaning. Professionals might also apply abrasive, foam, or immersion cleaning techniques to clean every surface and item thoroughly.

This step also mainly involves mold remediation to eliminate mold growth and prevent future mold growth. Professionals wear personal protective equipment like gloves, goggles, N-95 masks, disposable clothes, rubber boots, and protective overalls.

They use equipment like air scrubbers, High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) vacuums, and other negative air machines for sanitation. They clean all surfaces using an antimicrobial solution for category three water damage and dispose of all contaminated materials.

Repairs And Reconstruction

This is the step where professionals return a building to its original condition. Professionals remove all unsalvageable parts like carpet padding, flooring, drywall under the flood line, and low to medium-density trim boards.

If the water damage is below category three, they can deep clean the carpets, repair damaged drywall, or reuse wooden trim boards. However, if the damage was in category three or four, the best option is to replace every damaged item.

This is also the step that involves repairing any plumbing issues or the source of the water damage.


Property owners must call water damage restoration professionals immediately after they spot signs of water damage. It is also essential to keep up with the restoration process and take photos to send to the insurance company.

The water damage cleanup process can be expensive, so property owners must contact their homeowner’s insurance company to determine how much coverage they will get.

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