After hurricane Irma, many homeowners struggled with water damage restoration, which is the process it takes to repair a home that’s endured a flood or other water-related problems. The good news is that water damage restoration is typically covered by insurance, whether its flood or homeowners Insurance.
We’re in the middle of hurricane season now in Southwest Florida (so far, so good!) but should another storm hit, these water damage tips can help you cover all the bases post-storm, so nothing is missed in the rush to clean up.
Before you clean up, take pics
As hard as this might seem, don’t start cleaning things up before you whip out your camera and take photos of the damage. This serves as critical proof of the repairs you need to make. Without pics, you might end up reducing the amount of financial help you get.
If your flood was caused by a malfunctioning washing machine or dishwasher rather than a storm, you’ll also want to save the appliance as evidence—it might be something an insurance adjuster will take into consideration when reviewing your case. Keeping the evidence can also help if you decide to contact the appliance’s manufacturer, who will at the very least owe you a replacement product.
Remove whatever water you can
Once the documentation stage is done, it’s time to rid your home of as much of the water as you possibly can. Definitely don’t wait for a professional to swing by; it’s up to you to get the process rolling, because the longer water sits in your home, the deeper it can seep into your drywall, floors, and other areas, making it that much harder to remove. Mold and mildew will also typically begin growing within 24 to 48 hours, depending on the temperature and relative humidity, which during a Southwest Florida summer, humidity and temperatures will be high!
Furthermore, many home insurance companies require insured parties to take “necessary measures” to prevent further damage from occurring. In other words, if you don’t try to suck up the water that’s all over your bathroom floor, an insurance company may deny a claim for damage to that floor because you didn’t act to mitigate the damage.
A shop vacuum can help suck up standing water, and turning on fans will help the moisture dissipate.
Get help from a water damage restoration specialist
Generally, extensive water damage is not the kind of thing you should fix on your own. Instead, you should call a water damage restoration specialist (or a contractor with experience in this area). This pro will come in armed with industrial-grade dehumidifiers, air purifiers, and other equipment that will help dry out your place much more thoroughly than anything you have on hand. A specialist can also evaluate the extent of the damage and mitigate health issues that might come with mold and bacteria growth, and make sure the home is safe to inhabit. Your home watch professional can give you a referral if one is needed.
Apply for government aid if you can
If your water damage was caused by a hurricane, you might qualify for home repair and assistance grants through the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Just know that the government will not step in if you have insurance to cover the problem, and you qualify only if your home is located in areas where there’s been a federal disaster declaration. Check FEMA’s Disaster Assistance website, or call 800-621-3362.
Some homeowners who’ve been through a hurricane or other similar natural disaster might also qualify for low-interest disaster loans from the Small Business Association. And no, you don’t need to be a business owner to qualify; residential homes do, too. Check if you’re eligible at SBA.gov.