Water damage at home can quickly cost you several thousand euros. But what if an emergency occurs? In the event of a leak, you must act as quickly as possible in order to avoid disaster and minimize damage and costs. What are the first steps to take in the event of water damage? Water damage can have serious consequences. Try not to panic. Here are X rules to follow to know what to do and how to limit the flood, how to dry the damage and think about possible compensation.
1 – Cut the water supply
Shut off the water supply to prevent further damage. Just close the tap concerned. If this is not possible, you close the main water tap. When you’re away from your home for an extended period of time, to avoid possible water damage – and costly cleaning or renovation work as a result – consider turning off your main water supply valve. The main shut-off valve is usually located at the level of your house’s water connection, mainly in the basement. If you are in a rental, your water inlet may be in your kitchen or bathroom. You should know that not all rental apartments have such a tap. In homes, it is usually located next to the main water meter.
2 – Switch off the power supply
Water and electricity have never gone hand in hand. Turn off the power to the affected area. To do this, turn the fuses upside down or unscrew the corresponding screw-in fuse. This will prevent a short circuit and possible subsequent fires.
3 – Sponge up the water
To prevent spread, mop up leaking water as soon as possible. For small quantities, buckets and rags can do the trick. For larger quantities, you may need to use a wet vacuum or even a pump. If you have very large amounts of water to mop up, it is best to call a specialist or, if necessary, the fire department. Keep in mind there is a cost. Your insurance will cover these costs depending on the circumstances.
4 – Save your furniture
Remove carpets, furniture and electrical appliances from the wet area. Damp textiles and swollen wood in particular tend to form mould. The best way to reduce humidity is still to open windows and doors. If water is leaking from the ceiling, you can cover your furniture with aluminum foil.
5 – Document the situation as well as possible
Photograph the affected room and damaged furniture in as much detail as possible, even while you are cleaning. You will give the photos to your insurance company later. Do not discard waterlogged and completely soaked items immediately, but document the damage instead. This is one of the main recourses you have so that your insurance company can reimburse you for your items up to their value.
6 – Inform your insurance company
Inform your insurance company and describe the damage. If you don’t own your home, contact your landlord or property manager. However, you should not perform any repairs before reporting the damage. The insurance normally determines whether your water damage should be assessed by an expert or not. Your insurance company can offer you a specialized company to repair the damage.
7 – Dry your water damage
Depending on the size and intensity, the drying time varies: surface moistening of the walls and floor can dry in a few days. Repairing masonry damage can take several weeks or even months. It also depends on whether or not renovation work, especially painting, is needed. You can hire a professional to fix your water damage. Methods vary depending on the intensity and type of water damage. Not drying enough can lead to consequential damage such as construction defects or, above all, harmful mold. It is important to know the structure of the wall and whether it is an interior or exterior wall. Brick walls can dry out easily. Take care that mold has not formed (this may cause your wall to open to check).
8 – Solve the problem at the source
How does water damage happen? They can have different causes. The most common is that of a pipe bursting. This could be due to rust, frost, a defect in the material or work. The fault can also lie with defective electrical appliances such as a washing machine, a dishwasher or a boiler which, by leaking, can also cause water damage in the house. An overflow tub can also cause flooding, but that will be your fault. Watch out for inattention. Floods or heavy rains are considered external influences. Often the building structure is permanently damaged. Consequences of this type are usually the most devastating. Whether it is a faucet, a toilet tank, a pipe, a cumulus or a roof, try to find the origin of the water damage in order to remedy it in the most effective way possible.