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What is Secondary Flood Damage?
Article by David Selter
When a home or business has suffered flood damage, it is important not to compound the problem with what is considered secondary damage. In a flooded house, the evaporation of the intruding water quickly saturates the air. This is why flood damage restoration should begin as soon as possible – to prevent further damage from this saturated air. Whether you call a flood damage cleanup company or handle things yourself, it is important to get commercial grade drying equipment in there quickly to control the humidity levels in your home. Your air conditioner doesn’t have near enough capacity to remove the excess amounts of moisture in the air. Whether the damage was caused by a broken pipe or by rising flood waters, rapid flood cleanup will prevent the damage from spreading in several ways.
First, quick flood water removal with extraction machines or by other means will mean less water evaporating into the air of your home. It will also prevent the excess water from migrating under walls and spreading to other areas of your home, and from wicking up into porous materials like your drywall and cabinets. So the sooner you remove as much water as possible, the better.
Second, you will still have a lot of moisture in the porous materials in your home that will continue evaporating. The danger of this is twofold. 1. The high levels of moisture in the air caused by this evaporation will begin to condense on everything else in your home, so even if it wasn’t touched by the water initially, it will become wet and suffer damage. AND, these now wet materials will be an ideal breeding ground for the growth of mold. And 2. The high humidity will drastically retard the drying process and keep everything wet for much longer. This will pretty much ensure additional severe and costly water and mold damage. So, you will need to get and use high volume dehumidifiers to take the moisture out of the air and get the humidity as low as possible. This will prevent condensation from getting everything else wet, and it will greatly reduce the drying time. In general the faster something is dried, the less damage that will occur. Oh, and don’t forget to use plenty of high speed air movers (household fans only as a last resort) to replace the moist air near the wet surfaces with the low humidity air as many times a minute as possible. This is critical to fast and complete drying.
You can call a flood damage restoration company to provide the services and equipment discussed above, or you can rent the equipment and do the work yourself. But failing to do it or have it done will result in far more damage and could be a costlier mistake than you think. Because, as many people who didn’t read the fine print in their insurance policies have found out, insurance companies can deny your claim if you haven’t made reasonable efforts to limit further damage.