Besides yearly maintenance, home and building owners sometimes face the daunting task of repairs and restorations after an emergency. Water damage is one such scenario that requires extensive work to restore your property to its prior, livable condition.
On average, repairing water damage costs $2,800-3,300. Taking care of minor damage can cost as little as $800-1,000, while major water damage restoration costs as much as $8,000-9,000.
Top water damage causes
There are several reasons for water damage; common among these are:
Flooding due to thunderstorms, flash storms, heavy rains, hurricanes, etc.
Plumbing failure causing pipes to leak
Leaking appliances like the washing machine, water heater, etc.
Overflowing bathtubs, toilets, sinks, etc.
Sump pump failure
Whatever may be the reason, ultimately, pooled or standing water will cause you problems if not addressed promptly. The extent of damage will determine the amount of work required to restore the building.
Sometimes, vacuuming can fix minor water damage; however, in many cases where the damage is significant, entire portions of the house will need repairs and rebuilding. The leaking or standing water can seep into the drywall, furniture, upholstery, carpeting, etc.
Dampness can cause spores leading to mold taking hold in the building. Left unchecked, harmful pathogens will flourish posing a risk to health. Sewage leaks are especially dangerous.
Water can also cause wood rot, rusting, damage to plywood, etc. It can be the cause of rot in the
underlying structure of the house, making it weak, and more susceptible to early collapse.
How much does it cost to repair water damage?
The cost of water damage repair depends on many factors. You have to consider the area that has sustained damage, the level of damage, replacements, plumbing, labor, etc. The category of flooded water and the class of water damage will also factor into the overall price.
The flooded water is categorized as:
1) Clean: The source of water is clean or 'fresh' like supply pipes, sprinklers, etc. It is fit for consumption and does not pose any health risks. This type of clean up may cost $4 per square foot.
2) Grey: This water will contain some contaminants like chemicals and urine, and it poses a risk to health if you come in contact with it. It will cost you approximately $4.75 per square foot.
3) Black: This type of water contains raw sewage and is brimming with microorganisms and pathogens. It is very toxic and can cause significant damage to health. This restoration will cost
around $7.25 per square foot.
Moreover, water damage has 4 distinct classes, and the costs involved rise accordingly:
Class 1: Only a small area of the house is affected; a minimal amount of water has been absorbed by the surrounding structures that are usually low porosity (walls, floors, etc.). Minor
repairs and a little drying will take care of the damage. An overflowed toilet is an example of
Class 1 water damage. This would cost around $150 to $200.
Class 2: The water damage would be to a larger area containing medium to high porosity
materials. This involves a lot of water removal. Drying time will increase because evaporation
will take longer. The costs for these repairs could go up to $350. A burst water pipe in a kitchen
with a wooden floor joist system is an example of class 2 damage.
Class 3: This involves water leaking and seeping into highly porous materials in large sections of the house (walls, ceilings, floors, etc.). The rate of evaporation will be longer, which, in turn, will affect the water restoration process time. Storm-forced leaks are an example, and the costs involved will be more than $1000.
Class 4: Here, water has entered building materials, and reached spaces that are difficult to access. This restoration process requires specialized equipment and expert skills. It will involve a lot of work and time. A clean-up after storm water flooding a house could cost around $2500.
Cost to repair a water damaged ceiling
One of the most common problems from a leaking roof is a water damaged ceiling. Repairing your ceiling in this case will lost $40-50 per square foot. This price includes all labor and materials, but does not include the cost of removing mold.
Cost of labor to repair water damage
Labor charges will vary according to the affected area. The cost is calculated per square footage
based on the water category (explained above). Some companies charge an hourly rate, which
could go up to $75 per hour. If there is added work that lies outside of the package offered, the
labor cost will increase further. E.g., clearing debris may carry a surcharge of around $200.
Overall, the average cost of water damage restoration is around $3000 for greywater damage.
The minimum would be $1000, and the maximum you can expect to pay is $8000 (usually black
Process of water damage restoration
Complete home restoration from water damage involves several steps, including drying, repairing impacted surfaces, rebuilding sections of the house, and cleaning it thoroughly. Each company has its procedures to treat water damage.
Overall, the process involves these steps:
1) Emergency contact:
Professional water damage restoration services provider will have representatives handling
customer queries. He/she will ask a series of questions to determine the extent of damage and
recommend the appropriate service.
2) On-site assessment:
A trained team will be sent to your property to assess the damage. They will identify and stop
the source of water, and also check the contamination type (i.e., white, grey, black water).
The team will also conduct safety inspection for hazardous materials like lead, asbestos, etc., and do
a thorough survey of the property to see the extent of the damage. If necessary, they will
move around furniture to prevent further damage.
3) Water Removal/ Extraction:
The next step involves removing the water to prevent further damage to the property and to
reduce the drying time. It will also stop mold growth if there is any. Powerful vacuuming
equipment is used to remove as much water as possible. The team will also clear the area and
strip the building of any unsalvageable materials like carpets, cabinets, flooring, drywall, etc.
Water lodged in the porous parts of the house (like the drywall) needs to be eliminated to prevent mold, and deterioration of the structure. Industrial grade dehumidifiers and other equipment are used to remove moisture, and to speed up drying.
Once all of the water has been removed, all the surface in your house will need to be dried. The drying process is measured with special equipment to ensure a thorough job.
Walls, floors, furniture, upholstery, clothing, cabinets, etc. that suffered damage during the
flooding will also require cleaning; this is the next step where the team does a deep clean of the
house, furniture, personal items, etc.
The house will also smell funny due to prolonged dampness and moisture. Specialized equipment like air scrubbers and foggers are used to eliminate foul odors and to deodorize the space. Sanitization and disinfecting procedures are next. Antimicrobial and antifungal treatments are used to rid the house of harmful pathogens, mold, and other toxic microorganisms.
Finally, the water damage restoration company will undertake minor and major repairs and renovations around the house to restore it to its pre-water damage condition. It involves fixing walls,
replacing carpets, removing and installing damaged drywall, etc., or it could mean repairing
and rebuilding major areas of the house or the building.
Usually, a paint job is also a part of this step. Regardless of the nature of the work required, a good water damage restoration company will provide a broad range of professional services to ensure the house or building is restored to its former condition.
How long does it take to dry out the water damage?
The drying time will depend on the extent of the water seepage, and the area of the house. In
some cases, the house will dry in 2 days; in other cases, it could take weeks to get rid of all the
dampness and moisture.
Pro Tip: It is important to remember that even though surfaces look dry, there is water that has seeped into the walls, flooring, etc. which will cause extensive damage.
Water restoration experts use specialized tools to hasten the process of drying, which not only gets the job wrapped up faster, but also ensures there is no further damage to the property. Industrial dehumidifiers, air dryers, and fans are some of the equipment used to quicken the evaporation of moisture. Moisture meters track the drying progress.
The equipment is usually left on site until the property meets the approved drying standard, which
is confirmed by conducting a few tests.
What is the difference between water restoration and mitigation?
Water restoration vs mitigation are often used interchangeably. However, they are two different processes that are used together to provide a thorough water damage restoration service.
Both procedures can be done separately, but, usually, water mitigation is followed by restoration.
Mitigation is the first response to an emergency water damage situation and is quicker in
comparison to restoration.
Because water can cause rotting, rusting, mold, etc., you need to act quickly to mitigate the damage and salvage as much as possible.
When the team visits the building, they analyze the structure and take steps to prevent further
damage using specialized tools. Water mitigation involves the following steps:
1. If a water leak is causing the flooding, the source is located and stopped. Next comes
creating safe working spaces. This involves checking and fixing possible risks like
electrical fixtures, ceilings, hazardous material like asbestos, lead, etc.
2. Removing water using professional equipment and stripping the house of carpets and
other materials that easily absorb water
3. Installing tarps, boarding-up windows, etc. to protect the building
4. Using dehumidifiers to get rid of moisture that can cause rotting and other damage
(Even if the house looks dry after water removal, there is hidden moisture that this
machine helps remove)
Water mitigation is followed by restoration, which is a longer process that will completely
repair the damage and restore the building to the condition before the emergency.
Restoration involves replacing damaged sections of the house like drywall, hardwood flooring, roofs, etc., using tools to detect and eliminate moisture, getting rid of mold, and sanitizing and disinfecting the place.
Thorough testing ensures there are no more mold spores in the air. The building will
be tested again to make sure it is dry and meets established industry standards of water
Who cleans up water damage?
You may be tempted to carry out water damage mitigation efforts yourself, but it is always
advisable to hire a water damage restoration company instead.
Water damage restoration is time-consuming, complex, and even dangerous. You may end up paying more by trying to do it yourself. Professionals will have equipment and tools to properly dry out your house and also treat it to prevent mold from forming. A good company will be able to salvage many things and
restore the house to its earlier glory.
How to hire the right water damage restoration company
When a water damage emergency occurs, it is important to take immediate action and seek
professional services to mitigate the damages. Several companies offer these services, so here
are a few things to make sure you are hiring the best:
– Make sure the company you are hiring is certified with all the proper licenses along with
– The company should have years of experience in the restoration business with a well-trained
staff to handle any kind of damage.
– It should be offering 24/7 services and be able to respond to an emergency immediately. Of
course, it is best to hire a local company which is closer to your location.
– It is always better to hire a company that has received good feedback and references
– The company should be able to assist you in filing your insurance claim by providing timely
and accurate descriptions of the damage.
– Pay attention to what they are offering. Tall claims with few details are unhelpful. The
company should have an accurate idea of the extent of damage and a thorough plan to carry
out the mitigation work.
– A good restoration company will invest in state-of-art, industrial-grade equipment for water
removal, drying, repairs, etc.
Signs of water leaks behind walls and hidden water damage problems
Sometimes leaks will occur and it may take some time for them to become apparent. Here are
some signs of leaks in the walls:
– Paint or wallpaper peeling
– Cracking on the walls and ceiling
– Discolored paint patches
– Sagging walls
– Bubbling paint or wallpaper
– Visible mold growth
– High water bills with no apparent change in consumption
Hidden leaks are dangerous because porous and semi-porous material like wood, drywall,
plywood, the wallpaper will absorb water over time, which will cause the structure to weaken,
resulting in severe damage. It will also encourage mold growth, which is a health risk.
Buying a house that has water damage: what to know and to avoid
Investing in a house that shows signs of water damage could be a risky move. However, if it
checks off major points in your home-buying criteria checklist, then you can take a closer look
at the property before making an offer. Here are some things you should know:
– Source of water damage
– Extent of damage
– How long did it take to notice the damage?
– Completed repairs
– Possibility of mold and dry rot
– The market value of the house
– Cost for repair and remodeling work
– Get a quote for homeowners’ insurance coverage
It is best to conduct a home inspection to detect leaks and problems that are not immediately apparent. Make sure you have a detailed report of the inspection. If the inspection yields damages that suggest massive structural damages or the possibility of it in the next few years, you should reconsider buying the property.
Ask the owners relevant questions about the property, maintenance records, repairs, and the existing problems with the property. If you find the answers unsatisfactory or you are not convinced, you should continue the search for your dream home.
Insurance coverage for water damage restoration
According to the Insurance Information Institute, one in 50 insurance claims filed each year by property owners for water damage. It is more likely that you will file a claim for water damage than for theft or fire damage.
Homeowners need to have proper insurance in case they have to hire water damage restoration services. Along with this, you should also be aware of what your insurance document covers, what is excluded, and if you need additional covers for specific emergencies.
Home insurances mostly cover water damage caused by sudden or accidental events. Cases of negligence, poor maintenance, and regular wear and tear are not covered. Claims will mostly include damage caused by water from burst, frozen, or faulty pipes, sudden roof leaks, firefighting event, heavy rains, mold, vandalism, etc.
However, if the emergency occurred due to negligence on the part of the owner in carrying out regular plumbing maintenance, water backup from sewers and drains, ground seepage, and floods, the insurance will not cover it.
It is advisable to buy additional flood insurance, especially if you are living in an area prone to
flooding. You can also buy additional coverage for sewage backup emergencies.
The homeowner’s insurance coverage includes dwelling insurance coverage and personal property
coverage; it will pay for much of the water damage restoration service. You will be able to file a
claim for services to drain and dry the house, prevent mold, repair walls, floors, drywall,
paints, attached structures like a garage or shed, etc. if they sustained damage during an
You can also file a claim for ruined carpets, furniture, clothes, electronics, etc., that have been damaged by water. Please read your insurance policy closely to understand the extent of coverage offered.
Furthermore, carry out maintenance work on plumping and other areas of the house regularly and keep these receipts safe, you will need to produce them when you are filing a claim.