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The First 24 Hours of A Water Damage Emergency

Updated on February 1, 2015
Water Damage Dry Out, with Drying Equipment.
Water Damage Dry Out, with Drying Equipment. | Source

The First Hour of A Water Damage Emergency

The first 24 hours of a water damage emergency are by far the most crucial in the restoration process. There are some very important steps to take before calling a professional restoration company.


I cannot stress this enough. The most common water damage emergency will be caused by a broken pipe, a busted water heater, or even a toilet overflowing. No matter what has caused the damage, all causes end in the same result LOTS AND LOTS OF WATER. In North Texas, most emergency shutoff valves are located in the front of your house between the sidewalk and the street, and are usually hidden under a plastic or metal access panel. Once you find the shutoff valve use a crescent wrench or water shutoff key in a counterclockwise direction. If you do not have access to those tools or you cannot find the water shut off valve call your local fire department and let them know your emergency and that you need your water turned off immediately.

Depending on the source and the extent of damage that has been caused there are three people that you should call a plumber, your insurance company, and a restoration company. Calling a restoration company is much more important than you think because the extent of damage will continue to worsen the longer the effected area is wet. Do Not Wait! As time ticks by the cost of damage will increase as the category of water changes as well as mold can begin to develop within the first 24-72 hours of damage.

Waiting For A Restoration Company

At this point you will probably be in a state of panic, but try to stay calm and think pro-actively while you are waiting for the restoration company to arrive. It will take most restoration companies anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours to arrive on the scene and begin water removal, which gives you some time to prepare your home from further damage as well as allow the restoration company to get to work as soon as possible once they get there.

The first step to prepare for a restoration company to begin water damage cleanup is to clear as much of your undamaged furniture and belongings to an unaffected area. For wet furniture and belongings use styrofoam, tinfoil, or plastic bags to separate the furniture from the carpet or other materials in order to prevent color transfers or rust stains.

Next, try to create as much air circulation as possible by opening windows and turning on fans. This will help with the initial drying stages as well as decrease the humidity levels to help prevent mold from forming.

Monitoring water damage, water removal, dry out and moisture mapping.
Monitoring water damage, water removal, dry out and moisture mapping. | Source

Once A Restoration Company Arrives

After meeting with you and filling out the work authorization form the restoration company will perform an initial inspection deciphering:

· The extent of the water damage

· The type of building materials that have been affected

· Any pre-existing issues that the property may have

· Any complications that may be involved during the restoration process

After the initial inspection of water damage has been completed, the restorer must plot the water's migration vertically and horizontally on surfaces and through material in the wet areas. The ultimate goal is to locate the edge of the water migration, this can be done using moisture meters. At this point depending on the severity of the damage they will have to extract all water using a roll away or truck mounted high power vacuum systems. Once all of the surface water has been extracted, the restoration company will set up dehumidifiers and air movers in order to prevent mold from forming. The final stages of the dry-out could take anywhere from 2 to 5 days, again it all depends on the severity of damage, weather conditions, and source of water that caused the damage.


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    • Local Damage profile image

      Local Damage 4 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Great to know that this info was helpful, it's always good to be prepared!

    • profile image

      Boomer0330 6 years ago

      Thank you for posting this. I agree with Deborah Diane, this has happened to me and I had no clue what to do. My husband was out of town and the pipe had burst in the upstairs bathroom. It would have saved a lot of damage from occurring had I seen this article a couple of months ago.

    • Deborah-Diane profile image

      Deborah-Diane 6 years ago from Orange County, California

      We have experienced water damage, and you are absolutely correct that the first few hours are the most crucial. Great information that will help many people minimize the damage that water can do!