Most water damage occurs from broken pipes, busted water supply lines, or other internal building components that fail. For homeowner’s insurance to cover water damage, the damage has to occur form a single, one-time incident that occurs within the building.
We recently serviced a townhouse in Alexandria, Virginia which sustained significant water damage under a most unusual circumstance; the local utility company had a water main break in the street in front of the home, causing a heavy fountain of water to shoot up two stories into the air. Unfortunately for this homeowner it was pointed directly at his house. The cascade pounded the front of the townhome with water and road debris, which broke windows and peeled off shingles from the roof, allowing water to penetrate the home in multiple points.
We responded to find every room in the home wet to some degree. Water leaks that occur in the basement tend to remain in the basement leaving the floors above undamaged. Water that enters through the roof is another story. Water seeks its own level causing it to move downward until it has reached the lowest point.
As a result, the ground level was the most wet with saturated floors, walls and ceilings. In the second story, the ceiling had collapsed into the master bedroom due to the weight of the wet drywall and insulation, and this wet ‘mucky’ debris covered the bedroom. Much of the resident’s furniture and personal contents had been damaged, and the rest was in jeopardy due to the dripping water and high humidity.
The initial challenge was that we could not begin removing the wet material (i.e. drywall, trim, insulation, flooring) with all of the personal belongings in the way, and the extreme wet conditions hindered access to those belongings.
Our first task was to restore temporary power to the home, which had been turned off by first responders due to the amount of water. This allowed us to install drop lighting in order to begin processing the contents. We also installed commercial grade dehumidifiers to stabilize the rising indoor humidity.
The Removal Process
Our approach was a multi-phase approach; first, we had a crew remove the fallen debris (drywall and insulation) from the second level and extract standing water throughout the home. The completion of the first service phase allowed us to safely get to the items of personal property and remove them (pack out).
To begin the second phase, we mobilized a separate crew to begin sorting and packing the ‘restorable’ personal property, which we transported back to Restortech for drying and processing. As soon as the rooms were emptied of personal property a third phase of remediation was started, the removal of wet structural components that had not yet fallen. With the rooms vacant, we were able to remove the damaged flooring. The two crews worked in tandem, after a room was cleared of personal property the second crew began the mitigation while the pack out crew moved to another room. After four days, the salvageable furniture and contents had been removed from the home as well as the non-restorable saturated building material.
Complete Structural Drying
Even with the wet drywall, insulation and flooring removed, sub flooring and wall and floor framing can continue to hold moisture. A variety of meters are used to locate and identifying the moisture content of wet framing. Principles of psychrometry are used to manage the wet environment. Specialized drying equipment (air movers and dehumidifiers) is used to promote surface evaporation and to returned these wet materials to a usable condition. Moisture level monitoring is performed to check the entire home to ensure that all affected areas had been dried to acceptable limits. The framing that had gotten wet was treated with an anti-microbial product to inhibit mold growth. All services were performed in accordance with the IICRC S500 Standard for Professional Water Damage Restoration.
After several days of running the drying equipment and monitoring the moisture and humidity levels, the environment was dry and the mitigation goal had been achieved.
The entire process required about a week and a half. The structure of the home is now awaiting repairs by a general contractor. The homeowner’s contents will remain in our facility until the home is fully restored and ready for occupancy in the coming months.
When searching for water damage restoration in Northern VA we are ready to help! Located in Herndon, VA, we serve Fairfax County, Northern VA, and the surrounding areas. Contact us 24/7 at (703) 204-0401 or request service online.