A home’s fundamental role is to provide a dry and comfortable living space for its inhabitants. However, there are instances when unwanted water finds its way into our homes. In such cases, water mitigation and water damage restoration become essential in managing and rectifying the damage caused by significant leaks or flooding. These two methods are complementary and are typically best handled by professionals, especially for extensive damage.
Water mitigation and water damage restoration, although they may sound similar, are distinct processes that occur at different stages. They work in tandem but sequentially; it’s rare for one to occur without the other. Water mitigation takes place before water damage restoration. It stabilizes the home and ensures no further damage occurs. Water damage restoration, on the other hand, occurs after water mitigation and aims to repair homes and assist them in recovering from the water damage, essentially restoring the house to its pre-damage state.
Differentiating Water Mitigation and Damage Restoration
Water can infiltrate your home from external sources like a rising water table, leaky gutters, or groundwater. Alternatively, it can originate from within the house due to burst water pipes, a backed-up toilet, a malfunctioning water heater, or overflowing tubs or showers. The type and level of water damage, which usually determines the cost of mitigation and damage restoration services, can be categorized into three types:
- Clear Water: This is clean, typically potable water, usually from burst water supply pipes.
- Gray Water: This is murky water, often previously used, such as from dishwashers, tubs, sump pumps, or washing machines.
- Black Water: This is contaminated water from toilets or sewage lines.
Exploring Water Mitigation
Water mitigation involves halting the immediate flow of water, evaluating the necessary mitigation efforts, extracting the water, and drying out the property. This process may include:
- Checking the stability of the structure
- Removing water-damaged furniture and carpeting
- Assessing the level and type of water damage, whether clear, gray, or black water
- Disinfecting remaining materials
- Extracting water with pumps and commercial-grade wet/dry vacuums
- Drying out property with large fans
- Preventing further water damage with tarps
- Boarding up windows and securing the property, if necessary
Understanding Water Damage Restoration
Water damage restoration is the process of repairing and restoring a water-damaged home, with the goal of returning the home to its original condition before the water event. This process always follows water mitigation and may involve:
- Removing water-damaged drywall and other affected structural elements
- Removing and disposing of floor covering
- Replacing or restoring the subfloor
- Removing and encapsulating mold growth (mold remediation)
- Repairing or replacing windows and doors
- Fixing a damaged roof
- Testing for moisture to ensure that the property and all elements are completely dry
Estimating the Cost of Water Mitigation and Damage Restoration
The cost of water mitigation can range from $1,300 to $5,200, depending on the size of the home and the extent of the water damage. Mitigation of clear water damage, such as from a burst pipe or leaking dishwasher, will be about half ($4 per square foot) of the cost of mitigation services to homes damaged by black water (or about $8 per square foot).
The cost of water damage restoration depends on the size of the home, the type of water event, and the extent of the water damage. On average, you can expect to pay between $1,500 and $6,000 for water damage restoration services. The cost can vary from as little as $200 to$300 for localized services such as cosmetic touch-ups to a small area like a bathroom, up to $50,000 to $100,000 to remove and replace large structural elements to an entire floor.
Deciding When to Call a Professional for Water Mitigation or Water Damage Restoration
If a small area has been impacted and you have the necessary tools—a large wet/dry vacuum, large fans, and a submersible pump—you might be able to mitigate some or all of the water by yourself. Even if you plan on hiring a professional, it’s usually a good idea to start by removing some water yourself. However, the scale and the need to act quickly usually means that a water mitigation company should assist you with anything beyond a small leak.
A homeowner skilled in home renovation can repair water damage in their own home. Some tasks, like replacing drywall or flooring, are basic but labor-intensive home remodeling projects. However, the water damage may be so extensive that professional help is needed. It’s also crucial to verify that all structural elements are completely dry before closing them up again.
In conclusion, understanding the difference between water mitigation and water damage restoration can help homeowners make informed decisions when dealing with water damage. It’s important to remember that while some minor issues can be handled independently, professional help is often necessary for larger, more complex problems.