Water damage is a common problem many homeowners encounter at some point in their life. Black water damage is the most hazardous of the three types of water damage. Black water, also called category three water, is water that is heavily contaminated with harmful substances. It includes flood water, sewage, seawater, river water, and groundwater. Blackwater damage constitutes the most hazardous type of water damage due to the dangers associated with it.
Excess water sitting in your house is a problem in itself. However, when the water becomes polluted with contaminants, it poses bigger health and wellness risks. Infections and illnesses are likely to arise from black water exposure. Black water includes flood water that mixes with fecal matter, grease runoff, and sewage water. It may also be water contaminated with pharmaceuticals and algae.
Black water is basically natural mineral alkaline water which develops fulvic acid and trace minerals which may not present itself physically; that is, the water may be clear yet contaminated. For example, laundry water may be classified as black water if it contains pathogens. Black water not only contains microbes but may also contain harmful gases like hydrogen sulfide and methane. These gases can cause nausea, respiratory damage, and death.
Dealing With Black Water Damage
Black water is toxic and life-threatening, and inhaling its fumes can cause health issues. Sometimes, black water damage can dry up to form black mold. Black mold water damage thus requires quick action to minimize the health risks it poses. These are some of the things you can immediately do if you notice black water damage.
1. Contact Your Insurance Company
Contacting insurance is a crucial step when dealing with black water damage. It is important to note that not every insurance provider covers water damage, but some do. If not, you may need to purchase a separate policy for such events as flooding.
Your insurance provider will send an inspector to assess the extent of damage to decide if it is covered. Before the inspector comes, ensure to document the damage. Take pictures of every affected item before, during, and after the restoration process; this will aid the assessment. Your insurance may also recommend a good restoration company to you to handle the cleanup.
2. Protect Yourself And Valuables
If you notice black water damage, ensure to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your valuables.
Firstly, turn off the power, if possible. However, if that requires you to step into the water, stay away until you can call an electrician.
Secondly, do not step into black water without wearing protective clothing. Wear rubber gloves and boots, and wear a mask if possible. The boots and gloves prevent contaminated water from getting into any cuts, and the mask protects from fumes. Germs and bacteria can get into wounds or cuts and may cause infection. If your skin comes in contact with black water, wash immediately with soap and warm water.
If you can get into your property, try to salvage any valuables. You can lift wood furniture off the floors and remove rugs and carpets from the floors. However, if the damage is bad enough, you might not have access to your house and property immediately.
3. Call A Water Damage Expert
Black water damage can pose very serious problems. Professionals do not advise that you handle the damage yourself. Using a wet/dry vacuum or a mop may not alleviate the issue. Instead, it may worsen it as you might end up spreading the water further.
Call in a water damage company as soon as you notice water damage of any category. Building materials like drywall, flooring, insulation, and wood are porous and damage easily with water exposure. They also become a breeding ground for black mold. Black mold can form on surfaces less than 24 hours after exposure to water. Thus, the longer you leave the water, the more havoc it wreaks. A restoration expert will usually do a thorough damage assessment and proceed to clean up.
4. Damage Assessment
A restoration expert will perform a full assessment of the damage. The professional will create a unique plan for your home and property before the work begins. Professionals are usually dressed in full PPE to avoid getting in contact with any of the water.
5. Cleanup of Water Pools
Using a sump pump and other tools, the experts can quickly remove the water. A sump pump connects to a drainage pipe outside the house. When the water level rises, the pump activates and pumps water out.
During this process, the experts will remove and discard heavily affected items. While they remove the water, you may also bag up some belongings you can salvage. By disinfecting and dying, you may salvage a few things, but you may have to discard most things.
Additionally, they use negative air machines and air scrubbers to ensure that the unaffected areas are not contaminated. Usually, the experts advise that you close the doors to avoid decontaminating the area they are cleaning.
6. Drying Of Affected Area
Building materials easily trap moisture due to their porosity, and this provides a breeding ground for black mold. Wet floorboards and walls are most prone to black mold. Afterward, employing a balanced drying system for tap water, the experts can dry out the affected area. They do this using equipment like air movers and high-functioning dehumidifiers to extract moisture from furnishings. The length of the drying process depends on how big the affected area is. However, drying can take up to 72 hours. You can explore more options and additional information with lighthouserestorations.org
7. Cleaning and Restoration
Finally, most experts will also provide cleaning and restoration services. They will thoroughly sanitize and disinfect the area and use an air scrubber to get rid of harmful microbes. They will also do a deep cleaning of all furnishings exposed to water, even those exposed to fumes. Additionally, some may carry out structural repairs on damaged areas. They may also replace broken insulators, repair floors, and refurbish furniture. The damage repair process can take up to two weeks, depending on the size of the affected area.