Written by: Jeff Taxier, SCLA, WRT, ASD, FSRT, Education and Training Manager, American Technologies, Inc.

Submitted by: Jacqueline Nishnic, Business Development Manager at American Technologies, Inc.

Water damage to physical property remains the most common type of loss in most parts of the country. There are a few states, like Texas, Oklahoma and Colorado, where hail and wind prevail, but for most public entities, damage by water is far more common.

The water damage can be caused by Mother Nature, such as rain, or wear and tear to plumbing and other infrastructure or simple negligence. Whatever the cause, the longer the water damage goes untreated, or “unmitigated” the worse the damage gets and repairs can become a lot more expensive.

Evidence of water damage may be immediately visible as ponding, staining or even partial collapse of building materials. Typically these get an immediate response, hopefully by a qualified water mitigation company, who can immediately assess both the Category (how dirty is the water?) and Class (how much property is damaged?) of the water damage. These companies should also use non-obtrusive thermal imaging cameras and moisture meters to locate all the areas of water damage so that the drying, or mitigation plan, can map all the areas where water is present, even if it’s not immediately evident.
Failure to do this may lead to latent mold claims from untreated, damaged property.

Gradual water losses, such as small stains that slowly become bigger, musty smells with no visible damage or visible mold also require immediate vigilance in order to keep damages to a minimum. It is critical to report and get a response for these losses immediately, as well, to limit the damage that, perhaps, can’t be seen.

Many properties have on-site building engineers who may be the first responders. They may even have access to air movers and a dehumidifier or two. But unless the engineer has specific training in locating and drying properties (training typically provided by the IICRC – the Institute for Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification) the use and placement of the equipment may not be adequate, and, especially in the case of gray or black water, may actually make the problem worse. The key item for the building engineers to figure out is to locate the source of the water and remove or remedy it (by their own repairs, using a plumber, roofer etc.).

Depending on the age of the structure, other environmental issues may also need to be taken into account – notably asbestos and lead (see San Diego County Air Pollution Control District’s Rule 1206 for details). Most qualified restoration companies have relationships with qualified Industrial Hygienists who can expedite these tests so that mitigation is not delayed.

Failure to mitigate within 24-48 hours of the loss can and often does lead to additional mold damage as well as possible structural damage to the framing and foundation of the property. So – don’t delay and make sure your next water loss is not an unmitigated disaster!