Whether it’s a burst pipe or flooding that results from a natural disaster, cleaning up after a home that has been flooded is no easy task. Sure, homeowners are well within their rights to clean up themselves, but is that really the right decision? The process can be difficult, especially when the water has infiltrated deep into the home’s foundation. Contamination can complicate things further and could even pose a health risk.


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If your home sustains water damage, placing clean-up duties in the hands of professionals ensures your safety and provides peace of mind. Choosing the right water damage professional is just as important as ensuring that clean-up and restoration processes begin quickly.

The BestReviews team has compiled a detailed guide to help you select the right water damage clean-up service if something unexpected should happen. Below, you’ll find information on how the clean-up process works, the dangers of taking on the task yourself, and other helpful tips.

In colder climates, it’s important to make sure the heat is working, even when away on vacation, to reduce the chance of your pipes freezing and bursting.


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Water damage isn’t reserved for natural disasters only. Water damage can occur regardless of the weather outside. Here are a few potential sources of water damage.

  • Plumbing issues (burst pipes, toilet flooding, etc.)
  • Faulty roofing, or roofing that needs to be replaced
  • Flooding (natural disaster)
  • Flash thaws in the spring


Visible damage is just the tip of the iceberg. When water infiltrates a home, it can also get inside your walls, beneath your floors, and in your foundation.

Here’s a partial list of where water damage could occur in your home.

  • Flooring
  • Roof
  • Decking
  • Ceilings
  • Walls
  • Foundation
  • House exterior

Gradual water damage is typically not covered by insurance providers. Proper home maintenance and a keen eye can help reduce your chance of experiencing this kind of damage.



Various levels and classes of water contamination exist. The levels of contamination refer to the potential for health risks. The classes of contamination have to do with the actual amount of water present during a particular situation.

Contamination Levels

  • Category 1: Water damage has only just occurred, water infiltration is minimal, and the water is not contaminated.
  • Category 2: There is moderate bacterial contamination, a situation that poses a health risk.
  • Category 3: The water is heavily contaminated, poses a serious health risk, and may contain toxic substances.

The length of time the water has been sitting, as well as the ambient temperature, can affect the categorization of the contamination.

Contamination Classes

  • Class 1: There is a minimal amount of water, and the area of infiltration is small.
  • Class 2: A lot of water has been absorbed. There may be soaked carpeting, walls, and/or structural contamination.
  • Class 3: There is an extreme amount of water. Everything is soaked and saturated.
  • Class 4: This is a special situation in which saturation is severe and specific drying techniques must be performed.
For Your Safety
If you’ve experienced severe flooding, do not eat or drink items that have come into contact with water.


Water damage clean-up generally entails three specific steps. Each step is an important part of the process. Most clean-up services will go through each step to ensure your home is thoroughly processed and cleaned, but when hiring a company, make sure to ask whether your chosen provider intends to perform each step.


The first step of the water damage clean-up process is to extract the water from your home. Standing water is removed with the help of pumps.


After all standing water has been removed, the drying process begins. It’s important to ensure adequate air circulation to encourage quick drying. Equipment such as fans and dehumidifiers are utilized.


Certain items in the affected area will need to be replaced or repaired. Flooring that has been soaking in water for longer than a day will need to be replaced. Drywall will also need to be replaced to stop mold growth in its tracks.

Did You Know?
Mold can start to appear as soon as 48 hours after water infiltration.


When flooding occurs, there’s little desire to ask important questions and be critical of providers. Homeowners just want to get their lives back to normal. But asking the right questions will ensure you get the best clean-up service possible, and the potential for lingering issues down the road will be greatly reduced.

Here are a few questions you may want to ask potential service providers:

What kind of certifications do you have?

This is probably the most important question of all. Find out what kind of certification a company and its employees have to make sure you’re getting work done by professionals. You’ll also want to suss out whether a company has experience dealing with the kind of damage you need help with. Don’t be shy to also ask for references.

Do you offer emergency response services?

When flooding occurs, rapid response to the situation is crucial. Make sure there won’t be delays by selecting a service provider with emergency services. These companies provide rapid service so you don’t have to wait days or weeks to get help.

Do you offer storage for my non-damaged items?

You’ll want to safely store untouched furniture and other items, especially if you’ll be unable to re-enter your home for a while. Find out if the company provides a storage service for your undamaged items.

How do you go about addressing the issue of water damage?

Will workers go through the standard three-step process as outlined above, or do they have expertise in only one area of the process? Are they capable of performing repair services, or will you need to call a separate professional for that kind of work? Inform yourself of a company’s ability to restore and repair items or areas in your home before you sign on with them.

What kind of equipment do you use?

Ask about the equipment a company intends to use to clear your home of water. If they’re not using state-of-the-art equipment, that’s a red flag. Finding out about the equipment they use also gives you an idea of what kind of work they intend to do. Dehumidifiers and water pumps point to a thorough water-evacuation and drying process.

Do you handle damage where hazardous material is involved?

If your home has been saturated with water for more than a day and the water isn’t clean (lake water, sewage, etc.), you’re probably dealing with significant contamination. If sewage is involved, you’ll need a clean-up service that can handle severe contamination. Some flooding may also include dangerous chemical substances. For this kind of infiltration, a company needs to be well-equipped to deal with hazardous waste.

For Your Safety
In the event of a flood, be aware that a common cause of death is drowning. Don’t go back to your home unless you have been advised that it’s safe.


During a natural disaster, you’ll likely need to vacate your home, and you’ll have to wait until danger is no longer present to re-enter. But if a pipe bursts or a spring thaw ushers water into your basement, the flooding in your home may be localized, and you’ll be able to initiate the clean-up process before a professional crew arrives.

Assuming that it is safe to proceed, here is a checklist of things you can do to begin the process.

Cut power to the home

Make sure the power has been turned off if there is a significant amount of water inside the home. Flooding can pose an electrocution risk, and you’ll want to make sure you and the incoming crew are free from danger. If you’re not sure how to go about this, call your power company.

Get rid of anything that might be hazardous to you or cleaning staff

Remove debris and broken items from the area to ensure that you and clean-up workers have a clear path in which to work.

Clear items that haven’t been touched by water

Immediately remove furniture and other items from the area that have been untouched by water. You never know whether the water level will rise later; save what you can right away.

Try to get rid of as much water as you can

Keeping safety as your top priority, use whatever means you can to evacuate as much standing water as possible.

Get a dehumidifier working right away

If cutting power to your home was not a necessary step, start the drying process immediately. Clean-up companies will, of course, have more powerful equipment. But waiting longer than necessary might allow water to seep further beyond reach.

Cut the water supply to your home

Don’t risk further flooding. Turn off the water before clean-up crews arrive.

Call your insurance provider

Calling your provider as soon as you can will speed up the process of filing a claim. Your provider may give you advice on how to proceed and might even be able to give you the contact information for a clean-up service. It’s important to begin documenting the ordeal right away, too. You’ll be in no mood to take photos and write things down, but it will help your case later when you need to submit documentation during the claim process.

For Your Safety
It’s important to cut the electricity in your home in the event of flooding to avoid the danger of electrocution. The longer you wait to do this, and the higher the water level grows, the greater the risk. If you’re unsure whether it’s wise to cut the power, contact your power company.


You may feel like there is a lot to deal with all at once in the event of a water disaster in your home. However, it’s wise to keep these potential mistakes at the forefront of your mind so you don’t make them yourself.

You don’t take safety into account

When flooding, water damage, and infiltration occur, it’s easy to forget the potential dangers as stress and worry cloud your mind. But you must make sure to cut off the water supply to avoid further flooding and cut off the electricity supply to avoid electrocution hazards. You must also realize the very real potential that your health could be compromised if you deal with contaminated water without proper protective gear.

You wait too long to deal with the issue

Of course, some situations will require you to wait longer than advised to address water damage and begin the clean-up process, but if you are ready and able to deal with damage right away, don’t delay. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to thoroughly clean the affected area.

When the water appears to be gone, you assume that all is well

When water infiltration or flooding occurs, it’s important to completely dry the affected area. Even if everything appears dry, moisture may have infiltrated hidden parts of your home.

You choose an inexperienced repair team

Don’t hire a novice crew just because the company’s services are inexpensive. Hiring experienced professionals is important when dealing with water damage.

You don’t call your insurance company right away.

If you wait to phone your insurance provider, you may have trouble filing a claim later on.

Did You Know?
The improper clean-up and handling of water damage can lead to future respiratory problems due to mold and mildew growth.


Water damage clean-up service costs depend greatly on the amount of damage incurred and whether restoration is possible or not. If reconstruction is required, costs will undoubtedly increase.

On the low-end of the price scale, this type of service might set a homeowner back as little as $500. But that’s for very minimal damage that requires no repairs. For severe damage, costs can rise as high as $7,000.

The longer you wait to deal with water damage, the worse the situation can get. Promptly hiring a water damage clean-up service will help reduce headaches down the road.


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Q. Will my home insurance company cover my flood damages?

A. That depends on the type of home insurance policy you have purchased. Some types of water damage may not be covered by your insurance company. For example, basic policies often don’t include a provision for flooding. However, flood insurance may be offered as a separate add-on.

Q. How can I prevent costly water damage from occurring?

A. Proper home maintenance goes a long way toward safeguarding you from water damage. Check your home to ensure windows and doors are sealed correctly. Periodically verify that your roof is in good condition. Take a look at your plumbing to spot rust and other damage before it becomes serious.

That said, you should also be aware that sometimes water damage is unpredictable and may occur due to a natural disaster. In such a scenario, even the most diligent homeowner can experience a situation beyond his or her control.

QCan I deal with water damage without help?

A. It’s possible but highly discouraged. If the damage is minimal and little water has infiltrated your home, you may be able to go through the three-step clean-up process on your own. If contaminated water is involved and large amounts of water have gotten into your house, however, you’ll need professional assistance.Bestreviews Logo
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