Water damage can cause major issues for homeowners and property managers in the Salt Lake City area, causing significant damage to both property and its contents.
Moisture can be highly destructive and interacts with different materials in different ways:
- Absorption. Some materials have a high affinity for water molecules and can quickly and easily absorb moisture from the surrounding environment. These materials are called hygroscopic materials, and include wood. Moisture can cause these materials to swell or change in shape, which can lead to mechanical stress and potentially damage the material.
- Capillary action. This is the ability of a liquid to flow in narrow spaces without the assistance of external forces like gravity. Capillary action can cause water to be drawn into porous materials like concrete or wood. This can lead to swelling, cracking, and other forms of damage.
- Chemical reaction. Moisture can also react with certain materials, causing chemical changes. For example, when water reacts with iron, it can cause rusting.
In practically all cases, water damage also leads to mold growth.
Mold is a type of fungus that requires three things to thrive: moisture, a food source, and time. In a water-damaged property, it can grow on a variety of organic materials, such as wood, paper, fabric and food.
In addition to its health hazards, if left untreated, mold can wreak significant damage on your building’s contents. Porous items, such as carpet, linens, drywall and other similar items, that you find submerged in floodwater or covered with mold most likely need to be thrown away.
Understanding how materials can be affected by water helps massively with the cleanup and damage restoration operation. Knowing how to approach it can save time and therefore money on costly replacements.
In this article, we will take a look at some of the best practices for drying out and restoring some of the materials most commonly affected by water damage.
Wood is a hygroscopic material, meaning it can absorb and release moisture depending on the humidity levels in the environment. When wood absorbs moisture, it can swell, warp, or crack. This is why wood is one of the materials worst affected by water damage.
Wood, whether it be furniture, flooring or beams, can be difficult to restore if not handled properly. To dry out wood, it is important to remove any standing water as quickly as possible to prevent rotting. If rotting has already begun, these parts will have to be removed.
To preserve the remaining parts, industrial fans and dehumidifiers will circulate the air and remove any remaining moisture. Then, you must treat the water stains, strip the finish, fill in any gaps, and then re-treat the wood.
The affected wood should also be cleaned and disinfected to prevent mold growth and other harmful substances.
Carpets and rugs
Carpets and rugs are often the first casualties of flood damage. In most cases, these have to be discarded in flood situations. Trying to save them is often not cost-effective.
This is because they will have been under standing water and more than 48 hours will have passed by the time they have completely dried out. This is plenty of time for mold and mildew to start forming.
Upholstery and fabric
Like carpets and rugs, upholstery absorbs moisture and holds onto it, which makes it difficult to restore if not handled properly.
Again, if not fully dried quickly, it can lead to mildew and mold growth.
Some fabrics, such as cotton, are also more prone to shrinking when exposed to moisture, while synthetic fabrics may be more resistant.
Because soft furnishings often take a long time to dry fully, they cannot be saved. However, if the damage is partial or light, upholstered furniture can sometimes be salvaged.
In this case, you must separate fabrics and other colored items to prevent color bleeding, and then completely dry the furniture using fans and dehumidifiers.
The affected upholstery should also be cleaned and disinfected.
Drywall and plaster
All building materials, such as drywall, plaster and insulation should be removed as soon as possible if soaked by contaminated floodwater. They act like a sponge when wet (insulation can hold water for months) and can turn into a permanent health hazard, even once they’ve been dried.
Once removed, fans and dehumidifiers should be placed throughout the affected area to increase airflow and dry out any wooden studs or structural elements.
If wallboard was soaked by clean rainwater, this doesn’t need to be replaced. It does, however, still need to be dried quickly – and cleaned and disinfected – to stop the growth of mold.
Contact Summit Restoration for Expert Assistance
When dealing with flooding or serious water damage, following the right steps can help minimize the damage and quickly restore your property and its contents to their original condition.
At Summit Restoration, we are a full-service water damage restoration company serving homeowners and property managers in Salt Lake City and Draper UT. With years of experience and a team of certified technicians, we have the expertise and resources to help you through every step of the water damage cleanup and restoration process.
If you’re facing water damage in your home or building in Utah, don’t hesitate to contact Summit Restoration. Our team is available 24/7!
Call us today on (385) 469-2638 to schedule a consultation.