Water damage can occur in a home for any number of reasons ranging from flooding, to a burst pipe to an overflowing washer. In many cases, water can be cleaned up relatively quickly and easily before it has a chance to cause major damage. In other cases, however, water damage can happen when you are away from home for anywhere from a few hours to a few days to even several weeks. The faster you address water issues, the better a chance you stand of rescuing furniture, flooring and walls. For flood water or water that has been standing for some time, you may want to call in professional restoration services. For smaller floods, particularly those that occur with clean water, here are the steps you want to take to restore your home.

1. Elevate furniture

Dry air is the enemy of water, so you are going to want to create good airflow. To dry out carpets and flooring, you want to elevate furniture off the floor. This will also keep the legs and bases of wood furniture from absorbing more water. You can purchase small styrofoam lifts at any hardware store that will elevate your furniture about an inch off the ground.

2. Vent drywall

Drywall is particularly susceptible to water damage, because drywall acts like a sponge, absorbing water high up into the drywall. In addition, paint acts like a barrier that holds the water in. The only way to dry out drywall is from the inside. You can do this by removing baseboards and drilling large holes in the bottom of the drywall. This will allow air to travel into the space behind the drywall. When you replace the baseboards, it will hide the drill holes.

3. Set up industrial fans and a dehumidifier

Dry air absorbs water, so you want to create moving dry air. The first way you accomplish this is to set up industrial fans every few feet, some facing the wall and some facing the carpeting. What you want to create is sort of an indoor weather system, where dry air flows into, through and around wet walls, flooring and carpets and absorbs the moisture from them. A dehumidifier will then pull excess moisture from the air, while the fans will then push dry air molecules out to absorb more moisture to deposit in the dehumidifier.

4. Turn up the heat

Heat helps water to evaporate, which helps the air absorb the water for the dehumidifier to relieve it of. The higher the heat, the faster water will evaporate, so you may want to vacate your residence while it is being restored, particularly since you will need to keep all doors and windows closed. Essentially, you are trying to create a dry, windy desert indoors. This is great for absorbing water, but not so great to live in.

While you should always call in the pros when dealing with either outdoor flood water or water that has been standing for some time, there are certainly a number of smaller floods that homeowners can deal with on their own. It’s important to be sure that you have thoroughly dried out walls, carpets and flooring, however, or you could end up looking at several thousands of dollars of mold damage down the road. While insurance will often cover the original cost of flood restoration, they won’t generally cover the cost of mold damage.

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