The Ultimate Guide To Water And Fire Damage Restoration

August 17, 2022

Fire and water damage are two of the most common and costly problems that may happen to a property. In most cases, they're caused by natural catastrophes, such as floods, severe weather conditions, and lightning strikes. Sometimes, they're prompted by man-made troubles, such as faulty wiring, damaged plumbing system, and backed-up sewer lines.

Suppose your property has suffered from water and fire damage. In that case, you may need to know how to restore your property. This way, you'd know the steps of how fire and water damage contractors rebuild and replace your losses. For that purpose, here's an article to guide you. So, read on!

1. Evaluate For Safety Concerns

As the initial step, evaluating the property for safety concerns is necessary to avoid injuries during the restoration. Generally, water and fire incidents leave shattered glass, protruding steel bars, and debris that may cut or puncture the individuals carrying out the rebuilding. Securing the property's perimeter also keeps the contents of the building safe from looting and other similar issues.

The evaluation doesn't only identify the areas where the cleaning can safely start, but also the spaces that need more thorough planning, cleanup, and equipment. For instance, this can be the basis for restorers to cordon an area or leave it open for cleanup. Apart from this, this can also be the period where the people can put out the remaining fire or block the water source.

If you’re in need of immediate restoration services, you can search online using keywords like ‘damage restoration near me.’

2. File For Insurance Claim

Rebuilding a property after a flood or fire is a tough challenge. One way to lessen the costs is by filing an insurance claim. If you're considering this option, you must report the fire or flood right after it happened.

In addition, you may need to take photos of the damage and identify the affected items. Insurance claims don't' usually cover all the expenses caused by fire or flood. In this regard, it's better to refer to the insurance policy to know what's covered and what's not.

3. Assess The Damage

Damage assessment refers to determining the gravity of the water and fire damage. It also evaluates how the property sustained the fire and water. It also assesses the extent of the damage to the structure and the property's contents, including the furniture and fixtures. In addition, it also checks the portions affected by the smoke.

In terms of water damage, the severity is usually grouped into the following categories:

  • Clean Water

This is generally caused by minor water damage, such as a burst or leaky pipes. The water in this category is safe to use and drink. In most cases, this is easy to address.

  • Gray Water

This category is characterized by contaminated water. Typical causes of this problem are malfunctioning dishwashers, and moderately worn and torn plumbing systems. A quick fix is necessary for this mess.

  • Black Water

This is usually caused by severe water damage, such as flood and sewer backup. Usually, this causes severely contaminated water and further damage to the property's plumbing and water system, prompting immediate repairs.

In terms of fire damage, the following are the general categories:

  • Flame Damage

This refers to the effects of the fire in terms of structural destruction, hidden damage, and extent. Here, the type of fire, such as electrical fire or naked flame, is noted as this is also a factor in what items and chemicals to use during restoration.

In many cases, this category also correlates to the stage of the fire, such as the following:

  • Ignition: This refers to the starting stage of the fire where the damage is just building up, thus, minimal.
  • Growth: This stage is characterized by the development of flames that damage the fire's area of origin.
  • Fully Developed: The fire in this stage has already reached the different areas of a property, damaging the structure to its deeper portions.
  • Decay: This stage is distinguished by massive structural damage. Generally, the property is burned to the ground, and only a few or no portions in good condition remain.
  • Smoke Damage

In most cases, this damage affects the superficial portions of the property. However, this can be long-lasting and may require a rigorous cleanup to get rid of the smoke, its smell, and its effects. In addition, it may cause discoloration to walls, floors, ceilings, and other surfaces it had reached.

  • Third-Party Damage

Third-party damage doesn't only refer to the collective effect of fire and water, but also the damage caused by the act of putting out the fire. In many cases, firefighters intentionally destroy walls, ceilings, windows, and floorboards on their way to extinguish a fire. Because of this, more damage takes place.

In addition, this type includes the damage resulting from the heat of a house fire and the effects of structural collapse after the firefighters declare a fire-out. Furthermore, this may consist of the damage triggered by the chemicals, the gush of water, and the warping and swelling of the floors and walls.

At the end of the assessment, the restoration contractors can create a summary of the extent of the damage. Based on the outline, they may make a plan on how to deal with the restoration, including its timeline and possible solutions.

 

4. Dry Out And Demolish

After the general damage assessment, the next step is to extract the water from a property. Properties with a large amount of water damage may have been caused by the water from fire trucks, floods, and other major water-related problems at home. While this can be provided by the damage contractors, you can also do your part here to speed up the process.

Cleaning with plenty of standing water and dripping materials inside the property is more challenging than cleaning a dry property. Hence, you should take the drying out of the structure seriously

In most cases, fire and water damage contractors already have the equipment to remove water from the property. On the other hand, if you're extracting water yourself, you may use submersible pumps and buckets. You may shovel out mud if this is present in your building. After the water extraction, you may use a wet-enabled vacuum cleaner to dry out what’s left of the initial water extraction. For carpeted areas, you may need to re-vacuum the space repeatedly.

After the complete dry-out, you may evaluate the property's contents for their level of damage. You may destroy the heavily damaged furniture and fixture and eliminate them. These may include the ones with foam and similar materials, such as drywall and insulation. You may also take out off your property the swollen and warped stuff. You may reuse or repurpose the materials that were partially damaged or non-damaged.

 

5. Clean Deeply

After drying and removing heavily damaged things, you may start cleaning the property. Like in any cleaning method, you must start from the floor up. You may need to wash the walls and ceilings one area at a time. For this purpose, you can use a broom, brush, and a bucket of water.

To prevent the molds and mildew from thriving on the water-damaged surfaces, you may prepare a solution of one gallon of water and one cup of bleach. You may use a cloth to spread the bleach solution on the walls and other surfaces. However, you may need to test a surface with the solution to see whether or not it may cause discoloration.

In cleaning the fire-damaged rooms, you may use a dry/wet vacuum cleaner to suck in the different particles. Some contractors try to wet the fire-damaged materials first to prevent them from inhaling the particles. On the other hand, some contractors prefer to clean the materials when they're dry.

You may use a mixture of mild soap, five-tablespoon trisodium phosphate, and one cup of household bleach to remove the soot and smoked-damaged surfaces. You may use clear warm water to rinse them and wear off the dirty layer.

You may also use a sponge soaked in thinner or rubbing alcohol to remove more stubborn stains. A fruit-flavored cleanser can help remove the smell of the affected areas and surfaces. You may also need to clean the smoke alarm and the HVAC filters to avoid circulating the smoky air and the remaining dirt particles.

6. Repair And Replace

Generally, most items left by fire and water can no longer be salvaged, especially if the disaster has engulfed the entire property. Because of this, most repairs are major and necessary. For this purpose, you may need to check and replace the wiring system that may have been fried or soaked.

Pipes, taps, and tanks may also be replaced if these have been broken, dislodged, or punctured with large holes. Replacing a specific part can be an option for large structural portions, such as foundations and beams. For example, if most portions of a beam have been charred, you may remove the damaged part but retain most unaffected parts.

In deciding whether to repair or replace average-sized components, you may think about the severity of the damage. Replacement is necessary if the structure already shows signs of collapse and weakening integrity and can be purchased by piece or set. On the contrary, if the damaged part of the property is massive, such as the foundation and beams, you may opt for major repairs.

If you notice massive wall cracks, uneven walls and floorboards, hard-to-open doors, and a tilted foundation, you may immediately call a concrete contractor and seek major repairs. For minor repairs, sealing tiny cracks and replacing recessed walls are some activities to do.

 

7. Rebuild Or Renovate

If the structure has collapsed, you're likely to rebuild the whole property. If you choose to rebuild in the exact location, you must ensure that the existing foundation and base are intact and durable. Otherwise, you may need to start from scratch—excavating and building the foundations and base walls. Then, you can build the entire property from the ground.

If any part of your property has been saved, you may choose to renovate. For one, you can remove the burned window casings and replace them with more fire-resistant types. You may also install new load-bearing and fire-retardant walls. You can also reframe jambs and reposition walls and ceilings to make them different from their previous spots.

In renovating your damaged property, remember that you must prioritize dealing with the worst or most damaged portions of your building. In other words, you should put the aesthetic and cosmetic repairs as your next priority.

 

8. Deodorize The Rooms

Fires and floods often leave foul odors that last for weeks and even months. In many cases, these may suffocate the property owners, especially the ones with respiratory problems. Apart from such, mold and mildews can release spores that may cause irritation and allergies. In these situations, you must deodorize your building to regain its fresh and healthy smell.

In many cases, the building loses the smell of the mud and standing water once the soaked materials have dried up and the standing water has been removed. If the smell continues after this, you may need to use cat litter to absorb the remaining moisture. Then, you can place an air purifier or a freshener to deodorize the property thoroughly.

In fire-damaged properties, removing the soot is the first step to eliminating the odor. Then, you may place a bowl of baking soda in any corner of the house, especially the areas closest to the fire incident. Activated charcoal can also be used for the same purpose. Then, you may also install an air purifier to freshen up your property.

Wrapping Up

Restoring a water- or fire-damaged property is a lengthy process before everything returns to normal. In most cases, this requires comprehensive planning and skilled contractors. In addition, it takes a lot of time, money, and effort.

Suppose your property has gone through a fire or flood incident. In that case, here's an article to guide you on how the restoration process takes place from the point of damage assessment to the point where the owners can live again in the property.

 

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Thomas P
I believe in making the impossible possible because there’s no fun in giving up. Travel, design, fashion and current trends in the field of industrial construction are topics that I enjoy writing about.

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