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What Is the Water Mitigation Process?
When a water mitigation team comes to your property, they’ll follow these basic steps to stop the spread of damage and to save as much property as possible.
Stop the Flow of Water
The first step in water mitigation is to stop the flow of water into your property. If water is still leaking into the space, all the other steps of the water mitigation process won’t do much to help reduce damage. For damage from a flood, it’s usually clear when the flow of water has stopped. But for a leak from a pipe or an appliance, the first step for the mitigation team is to ensure the water supply has been turned off and the cause of the leak has been, or will be, addressed by a plumber. Once water isn’t entering your property, the water mitigation team can really start their work.
Assess the Situation
Before taking any action, the water mitigation experts will need to see what they’re facing. The restoration industry uses two systems for assessing water damage: Category and Class. Your team of experts will use both of these to figure out the extent of damage your property has.
Categories of Water Damage
The water damage category considers the source of the water damage and the level or range of contamination. The three categories of water damage are:
Category 1: Water comes from clean or sanitary sources of water like a burst pipe (supply line only), broken toilet tank, or overflowing bathtub (unused water).
Category 2: Water from a source that contains considerable contamination from organic or inorganic matter and microorganisms. Overflow from your dishwasher or washing machine machine or a broken aquarium would be categorized here. This may sometimes be known as gray water.
Category 3: Water originates from a “grossly contaminated” source like sewage, flooding from any body of water, or surface water runoff. Category 3 water can contain pathogens, chemicals, and other harmful agents. You may sometimes see this referred to as “black water.”
Classes of Water Damage
The water damage class tells you the extent of water damage based on the amount of water present and how much has been absorbed by the affected materials or building components. The four classes of water damage are:
Class 1: Water damage, or intrusion, at the lowest level. The impacted materials make up less than 5% of the combined surface area of the walls, floor, and ceiling in the space.
Class 2: A significant amount of water absorption has occurred. Wet, porous materials make up around 5%-40% of the combined surface area of the walls, floor, and ceiling in the impacted space.
Class 3: Class 3 losses involve the greatest amount of water absorption, with impacted materials making up more than 40% of the combined surface area of the walls, floor, and ceiling in the affected space.
Class 4: Think of this as deep water damage, meaning there’s “deeply held or bound water” in materials that do not absorb water very easily, such as plaster, hardwood, or concrete. These are considered “low evaporation materials,” which may require longer drying times and specialized drying methods.
Once a water mitigation team determines the category and class of the damage, they can determine what the next best steps are and if the property is safe for the residents to remain in.
Perform Water Extraction and Dry Out the Space
Based on the class and category, the water mitigation team will choose the right tools to remove any standing water that’s still in the damaged space. Once all excess water has been extracted from your property, they’ll move on to drying out the space the rest of the way. Proper, thorough drying is necessary to restore normal moisture levels and help prevent mold growth or other secondary damage from occurring. Some of the equipment they might use includes pumps, vacuums, dehumidifiers, air scrubbers, and heavy-duty fans.
Provide Temporary Solutions
Once your property is drying out, the mitigation team may recommend temporary solutions to help prevent additional water from entering your property while it’s drying out, and until you can get the rest of your repairs done. Some of these solutions might include covering holes with tarps or boarding up broken windows. Depending on the specific capabilities and scope of work covered by each mitigation team, another contractor may need to be brought on to assist. If that’s the case, the restoration company handling mitigation should be able to refer you to one of their trusted partners.
Create a Restoration Plan of Action
Your professional mitigation team will work with you to develop the best plan of action to restore your property to its pre-loss condition. This will likely be covered during their initial walkthrough and assessment of the water damage to ensure everyone is on the same page about what exactly needs to be done before they begin any work. Your full restoration plan should cover things like:
An estimated timeline
An overview of what can be salvaged/repaired versus what should be thrown away/replaced
Key steps in the process like water extraction, drying, sanitizing, etc.
Recommendations for additional repairs, if needed