Water Damage Restoration 101: A Brief Guide For Homeowners

Water is your home’s greatest weakness. This natural element can wreak havoc on your foundation up to your ceiling. It can seep through holes in your roof and slip inside cracks on your walls. 

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Drip by drip, leaking pipes and defective appliances can cause gradual deterioration of your home’s structures. Notice the damp and musty smell of your basement or attic? How about the black streaks on your walls? Those are severe signs of water damage.

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Water damage can also occur suddenly, like a burst pipe or a terrible flood from a severe thunderstorm. Water not only leaves behind wet furniture or soggy carpets, but it can also warp wooden floorboards and corrode metals. Worse, it can also make your insulation less effective.

Prolonged water exposure can cause severe structural issues and even undermine your and your family’s health. As such, homeowners need to know what to do when they encounter water damage and their options regarding water damage restoration. 

What Is Water Damage Restoration?

Water damage restoration refers to the process of removing water from a home and carrying out several steps to restore it to its original condition. Apart from cleaning affected areas, the method also includes drying, sanitizing, and restoration. 

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Depending on the severity of the damage and their skills, homeowners can perform water restoration as a do-it-yourself (DIY) project or choose to hire professional companies. This guide will help you determine the best solution for your home—whether you need water damage restoration in Portland Oregon, or elsewhere in the world.   

When Do You Perform Water Restoration? 

Water damage is considered a home emergency, so it must be addressed as soon as possible. Standing water can cause structural damage affecting floors, walls, furniture, and ceiling. 

Water damage can make the wood swell and cause metal fixtures to rust. It can also damage insulation and home furniture. Worse, mold and mildew can grow following water damage and, in turn, lead to respiratory and other health problems. 

Homes that suffer from man-made water damage, such as leaking pipes and appliances, need immediate attention. Homeowners need to act swiftly to contain the incident and prevent further damage. 

Likewise, an immediate response can reduce family members’ potential health and safety risks. Mold and bacteria can proliferate on damp surfaces. Rust and warped floors can also harm your family. 

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In case of floods and other natural disasters, it’s best to ensure the area is safe. Wait until the storm has stopped before doing a thorough inspection. Ensure the power is off before attempting to wade in knee-deep water. Likewise, it’s best to use protective equipment to avoid exposure to mold, sewage, etc. 

When able, homeowners can remove clear standing water using mops and buckets. They can also remove water-soaked home items and, depending on the damage, choose to salvage or dispose of them properly. Homeowners can then dry out the affected area using fans and dehumidifiers. Afterward, they can disinfect the surrounding area using bleach or other homemade solutions. 

It’s practical for homeowners to address water damage independently as long as they have the skills and equipment to do so. However, there are also instances when hiring professionals to do the work makes more sense.

Professional Water Damage Restoration

So, when do you call in the experts?

Professional water damage professionals are handy on several occasions. Water damage caused by sewage backup or flooding from rivers or due to a storm is the most common reason to hire them. They have extensive experience in dealing with these kinds of water damage. 

The presence of mold and mildew is another reason to give them a call. Some species of mold can be harmful to humans, and most need specialized tools and equipment to eliminate them. Experts have specialized equipment to assess and remedy this type of situation. 

Moreover, professional water damage restoration companies also offer additional services that can revert your home to its former condition. They have the skills and the tools to help you recover your home and make it safe and comfortable to live in after an emergency or natural disaster.  

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The Water Damage Restoration Process 

There are several advantages to hiring professionals for water damage restoration. One, they will assess your situation before providing you with an estimated amount for their service. Another is that they will determine the type and extent of your home’s water damage. In addition, experts will explain what they do and present you with a timeline of the entire project. 

The restoration process depends on the extent and source of the damage. Professionals can assess your home’s condition as category 1, 2, or 3 or more popular terms such as ‘clear,’ ‘gray,’ or ‘black’ water damage. Here’s a brief description of each category.

  • Category 1 or clean water – This occurs due to plumbing leaks, melting ice or snow, rainwater, and toilet malfunction. At this stage, there is no substantial risk from exposure, so that professionals can dry and salvage drywall, carpet, pad, hardwood flooring, and furniture.
  • Category 2 or gray water – This results from water damage from leaking appliances, toilet overflows, broken aquariums, and punctured water beds. At this point, professionals not only dry out infected areas and materials but disinfect them as well. They can use anti-microbial sprays and high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) vacuums to sanitize surfaces and other items. 
  • Category 3 or black water – This refers to contamination due to sewage backup, seawater and river overflows, or floods due to bad weather. It also includes stagnant water after 48 hours and the presence of moldy odor in your home.  

This category requires extensive effort in removing all affected insulation, hardwood flooring, drywall, carpet, and cushions. Drying for several days ensures that all moisture is removed while sanitizing eliminates bacteria and other potential health threats. 

Aside from water removal and drying rooms and other materials, professionals can also help with mold remediation. Depending on the extent, mold remediation can require special removal tools and take longer than regular cleanups. 

As you can see, all three categories require water removal, cleaning, drying, and disinfection. These processes take care of visible signs of water damage, and the target is hidden moisture issues. Water damage remediation is not only a quick fix but a long-term approach to protecting your home.

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How Much Does Professional Water Damage Restoration Cost?

A national estimate puts water damage restoration costs between USD$500 to USD$5,000. The price depends on the water damage category and the severity of the situation. Although you can receive estimates over the phone, an on-site assessment from a reputable restoration professional is the most accurate. 

Aside from a fair quote, the contractor can also walk you through the entire restoration process. They will explain to you what needs to be done and the equipment required and even provide a timeline for the project. 

Your homeowner’s insurance may cover part or all of the expenses. Insurance policies may also provide exemptions, such as water damage from sewage backups or other similar conditions. It’s best to review your policy often to ensure you’re covered. 

You should also forward your insurance claim as soon as possible. An insurance adjuster will assess your paperwork and supporting documents before receiving your claim. As such, it’s best to prepare for out-of-pocket costs.  

Rebuilding After Water Damage

Restoration is the final step in this process. With professional restoration services, you can expect them to return everything once it’s all clean and dry. They will also check your walls, ceilings, and rooms with special equipment to detect moisture levels. 

Some companies may even offer additional restoration services such as flooring or insulation replacement. You should ask your contractor if they provide the said services to receive a quote.

For those who prefer the DIY route, the final phase may not only involve restoring the home to its previous condition. Those who have an additional budget may even include water-proofing to prevent the same scenario from happening in the future. 

You may opt to add ventilation to several areas in your home. This will keep moisture at bay and also help maintain good air quality. In addition, you can also check for plumbing leaks and have appliances repaired to prevent further problems. 

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Other upgrades that can protect your home from future water damage include sealing your basement, selecting moisture-resistant floors, using mold-resistant paint, caulking, and installing water-resistant insulation. 

Aside from necessary upgrades, homeowners may even invest in additional equipment in preparation for water damage emergencies. You can invest in a sump pump for your basement, a hygrometer to check moisture levels, and a dehumidifier to clean and dry your home.

All these will help reduce the likelihood of water damage in the future. These upgrades may seem expensive at first, but you’ll be thankful for doing it these soonest as no one will know when floods and other disasters will happen.  


In sum, water damage can be pretty devastating for any homeowner. Water can attack your home slowly and gradually, or it can occur as an abrupt event like a heavy storm or a flash flood. Whatever the case, homeowners should be prepared to act quickly.

DIY skills and equipment can greatly help you during this extensive water damage restoration process. Your immediate response can prevent further home damage and reduce health and safety risks to you and your family. In addition, it’s also an excellent option to hire professionals for more severe water damage. Their expertise and specialized equipment can remedy water damage and restore your home to its former glory.


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