Many a homeowner has been filled with dread when they walk into their kitchen to find it has been flooded — whether they’re witnessing a slow seeping or a burst of water.
Kitchens flood for many reasons, some beyond the homeowner’s control. Pipes wear down, with worn hoses or undetected holes. Pipes freeze in the winter. Your roof may have a leak. Flooding outside due to weather may enter your home.
No matter the reason for the flood, however, you need to act fast. Learn what you should do if you’re dealing with a dreaded flood in your kitchen.
Find the Water Damage
If a pipe has burst and your kitchen is suddenly a growing pond, it’s pretty easy to see that you have water damage. But other water damage isn’t so obvious, and you could go a long time without noticing it. Be aware of these less-obvious signs of water damage:
- Your water bill is suddenly much higher, but your habits haven’t changed. This could indicate you have an undetected leak.
- You find bubbles in your wall. This may not be noticeable, as we tend to get so used to our surroundings, but it’s not a bad idea to take a minute every now and then and stare at the walls.
- You smell musty or moldy smells anywhere in your home.
So when you find your obvious (or not-so-obvious) water damage, you should immediately grab the towels and borrow a fan from the neighbor, right?
Unfortunately, cleaning up water damage is typically not a do-it-yourself project. This is because it’s not always obvious if you’ve removed all the water. Water can become trapped in undetectable pockets. And when water is not removed completely, molds may grow. Plus, dry rot could be in your future.
Instead of attempting cleanup yourself, you need to call a WTR-certified restoration company that is trained in the proper scientific procedures of water extraction.
WTR-certified professionals have the proper scientific equipment and have been trained to identify moisture sources, evaluate mold growth, contain the damage, remove any contamination, and fully dry materials so that mold will not return.
The right equipment can determine where leaks are, and how far water has traveled. It can even find water in walls.
What to Expect from the Restoration Company
- First, the disaster cleanup company will take stock of the situation and work to mitigate any urgent issues (drying up water damage, boarding up windows so rain doesn’t continue to add to flood damage).
- Items that have been damaged will be removed from your home.
- The experts will then begin the cleaning process, including ventilating areas.
- The restoration company should be taking photos at every stage of the process to document damage.
- Scientific data (moisture readings) will be taken.
- An inventory of your damaged items will be recorded.
- Within 48 hours to two weeks, your insurance adjuster will review the evidence and determine how much the insurance company should pay. A good disaster relief company will communicate with the insurance company as well, to advocate on your behalf.
- Claims negotiation will begin after meeting with the adjuster.
- You’ll receive the claim check.
- You can begin the restoration process.
What Does Insurance Cover?
Most homeowners’ insurance will cover water damage that originates from inside your house. What does this mean? If you have a leaky pipe or a frozen pipe, your insurance will probably cover it. They won’t, however, cover water damage from bad weather. You need to purchase flood insurance separately if you live in a floodplain.
When you choose a restoration company, it’s a good idea to search around. Using your insurance company’s preferred provider isn’t always the best option, as that company will be working to lower costs for the insurance company. Instead, look for a 24/7 restoration company that is WTR-certified and has a good reputation.
A restoration company should work with your insurance company to get your damage covered. The company should document the damage thoroughly to get you what you deserve.
Your homeowners’ insurance will likely only give you the money it would take to restore your home back to its original state. But they’re also intent on keeping costs down, so the amount you receive may not be enough to do everything you need to do.
However, when restoring a portion of your home that has been damaged by flooding, it’s a good opportunity to also improve. If you have the funds available, you can upgrade as you go through the restoration process. Vinyl flooring can become tile or hardwood, laminate countertops can be replaced with granite.
Talk with your restoration company to see how to make your insurance money work in the smartest way for you to get your kitchen restored and functional (and maybe upgraded) again.
Obviously, it’s best to avoid a flood in the first place. These preventive measures may help.
- Determine if your house was built so that water drains away from it by watching what water does during a rainstorm. If you find standing water, even when the rainstorm wasn’t terribly heavy, give your county planning department a call for suggestions.
- Keep your gutters and downspouts free of debris.
- Consider equipping your home with safeguards like airbricks and flood guards. These are designed to prevent outside water from reaching the inside of your home.
- Don’t ignore bubbles in your walls or musty smells. These are almost always indications of water damage, and they need to be taken care of right away.
A flooded kitchen is the last thing you want to deal with, but with the right water damage restoration company and know-how, you can handle it like a pro.
Deborah Lamberton is the general manager for New Life Restoration, a 24/7 disaster cleanup company that offers fire & smoke, water & storm damage, mold remediation and more.