Flood & Water Damage Restoration FAQ
Since the 2013 Calgary floods, we have encountered many customers that had questions about flood and water damage restoration. Listed below are the top 10 questions we have been asked by residents of Calgary and surrounding areas.
1. What is water damage restoration?
This is a service performed by professionally trained contractors who understand how to effectively restore your home to pre-loss condition after a flood event.
2. Why are the first 24 to 48 hours so important when a flood happens?
Mold takes 24 to 48 hours to grow, so the the primary goal is prevent the onset of mold to prevent future health and structural concerns. In addition, the other mission is to prevent mold because mold removal can be costly, particularly when a home is flooded.
3. What should I do when my property begins to flood?
Call a restoration contractor immediately so they can deploy equipment to begin pumping water out and begin working on an action plan. Their assessment process will determine how much damage or destruction the water has caused and most importantly determine the hazard level of the water. Once you have a professional in place, call your insurance company to begin the claim process.
4. How does the restoration professional determine how much damage or destruction the water has caused?
Restoration professionals that get trained through the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restroration Certification (IICRC), are taught that there are four classes of liquid destruction. During their assessment of the damage, they will determine if the destruction is class 1, class 2, class 3, or class 4.
Class 1 Destruction
The lowest and easiest to deal with, this has a slow evaporation rate. Only part of a room or area was affected, there is little or no wet carpet, and the moisture has only affected materials with a low permeance rate, such as plywood or concrete.
Class 2 Destruction
With a fast evaporation rate, this level affects an entire room, carpeting, or cushioning, the wetness has wicked up the walls at least 12”, and there is moisture remaining in structural materials.
Class 3 Destruction
This class has the fastest evaporation rate, and ceilings, walls, insulation, carpet and sub-floors are all saturated. The liquid may have come from overhead.
Class 4 Destruction
This class is labeled as a specialty drying situations, which means there has been enough liquid and time to saturate materials with very low permeance, such as hardwood, brick, or stone.
The restoration contractor may also assess the risk of asbestos, particularly if the home was built prior to 1980.
5. How does the restoration professional determine the hazard level of the water?
IICRC training contractors understand that there are three distinct categories of water: category 1, category 2, and category 3.
Category 1 Water (Clean Water)
Water that originated directly from a sanitary source and when exposed to it, either through the skin, inhaled or ingested, does not cause a great deal of harm to humans.
Examples of Category 1 Water: broken water supply lines, melting ice or snow, falling rain water, and tub or sink overflows (no contaminates).
Category 2 Water (Gray Water)
Defined as water with bacteria present, but no solid waste, carrying microorganisms and nutrients for microorganisms. Category 2 water does have the potential to cause discomfort or sickness if consumed or exposed to humans.
Examples of Category 2 water: discharge from dishwashers or washing machines, toilet bowl overflows (urine, no feces), seepage due to hydrostatic pressure, and sump pump failures.
Category 3 Water (Black Water)
Category 3 Water is highly contaminated and could cause death or serious illness if consumed by humans. Examples: sewage, rising flood water from rivers and streams, ground surface water flowing horizontally into homes.
6. Why should I be concerned about Category 3 water?
Category 3 water carries many bacteria and viruses that could harm your health including the following:
- E. Coli;
- Helicobacter pylori;
- Hepatitis A Virus;
- Clostridium Tetani; and
7. What illnesses can be caused by these bacteria and viruses?
- Gastroenteritis, characterised by cramping stomach pains, diarrhea and vomiting caused by e.coli, salmonella, and other bacteria. Exposure to Helicobacter pylori is also linked to other stomach ailments including ulcers.
- Weil’s disease also known as Leptospirosis which is a flu-like illness with persistent and severe headache, vomitting, and muscle aches. This disease is commonly caused by exposure to water contaminated with animal urine. Complications from this disease include damage to the liver, kidneys, and blood meaning this condition can cause death.
- Hepatitis caused by the hepatitis A virus and is characterized by inflammation of the liver, and jaundice.
- Acute respiratory illnesses caused by the adenoviruses, resulting in attacks of breathlessness, chest tightness, wheezing, pneumonia, croup and bronchitis.
- Infections of skin, eyes, nose, throat and ears.
- Tetanus, a medical condition that affects the nervous system and is characterized by a prolonged contraction of skeletal muscle fibres; caused by a clostridium tetani. This is the reason we get tetanus shots.
8. How can I minimize my risks of getting sick?
When you experience water damage, time is not on your side because most household microorganisms (fungi, bacteria) require five conditions for germination, growth, amplification and dissemination:
- Organic food source, especially cellulose (e.g., paper, wood), which are found in abundance in construction materials.
- Moisture, even high humidity (67% RH plus)
- Moderate temperature – 68-86°F/20-30°C
- Stagnant air
- Time – several hours to several days.
The risk of bio-hazard increases over time. For instance, in 2 to 3 days, category 1 water can turn into category 2 water and eventually category 3 water as other bacteria and pathogens begin to proliferate.
In addition, if you are planning to do your own clean up, realize that micro-organisms enter the body either through direct contact and/or breathing in contaminated dust. It is essential that you wear protective clothing, rubber boots, gloves, and use eye and respiratory protection.
9. Why should I hire a professional?
Hiring IICRC trained professionals to do the clean up will save yourself from potential sickness and long term health issues for several reasons:
- Trained professionals have specialized equipment to pump out excess water, commercial grade dehumidifiers and air movers.
- Experienced professionals have the knowledge to properly determine the class of destruction and category of water to put together a scope of work (ie. plan of action).
- Ability to assess structural issues caused by the water damage, which could have long term safety and property value consequences if not fixed properly.
- Advise you on what contents can be cleaned and what needs to be thrown out.
- Create a drying and monitoring strategy using air movers and dehumidifiers.
- Create a sanitizing plan to ensure a healthy living environment.
10. Why should I invest in post-remediation verification?
The whole goal of water damage restoration is to restore the property to pre-loss condition. Once the water is removed, and the sanitation and drying process is completed, we also recommend that air quality tests be done. In addition, if there was category 3 water, then you should also consider investing in a sewage contamination test as well. Both tests should be done before any reconstruction or rebuild begins to verify that the water damage restoration was successful. In short, there is no point in rebuilding if potential mold or bacteria from category 2 or 3 water is still present. Your water damage restoration contractor will recommend a Third Party Environmental consultant to perform these tests.
The investment in this is well worth the cost for long term peace of mind that the restoration was done properly. Further, such an investment could save you thousands of dollars if mold is discovered after the reconstruction is complete because professional mold remediation can be costly.
Still have questions? We are here to help and support Calgary residents, call 1-403-978-7978 for immediate assistance or contact us via e-mail.
— MSZ Restoration (@mszrestoration) July 6, 2015