Water damage can be a huge issue in a home. It can happen to anyone, for any number of reasons. Some common reasons for water damage include:
- Plumbing issues
- Faulty appliances, from hot water heaters to refrigerators
- Air conditioning problems
- Weather-related damage such as flooding, or hailstorm damage that allows water to enter
- Moisture buildup in basements, attics, and similar spaces
- Clogged gutters
- Sewer backups
Water damage can ruin everything from your furniture and rugs to your studs (the wood your home is made of) and even your electrical wiring, if submerged for an extended period of time. But it doesn’t just cause problems in the moment. If left untreated, even a little water damage will inevitably worsen over time and can cause major problems such as warped floors and damaged walls, and mold growth. That’s why water damage restoration services are so important. It’s not just about stopping the immediate damage. It’s about preventing complications in the future.
10 Top Factors That Affect the Cost of Water Damage Restoration
It’s hard to know offhand what water damage restoration will cost. Many factors go into the estimate. Bigger, more complicated jobs require more resources and time. Here are some common factors that can affect the cost:
- Size of the area affected
- Amount of water
- Type of water
- Where the water is coming from
- If water is still present
- Time since the water damage started
- Types of materials affected
- Mold growth
- Location of your home
- Reconstruction needed
Water cleanup can be complicated. With all these factors just affecting the cost estimate, imagine how much more goes into the cleanup itself! That’s why bringing professionals in quickly is so important. Read on to understand how and why each factor affects the cost, and how these factors affect each other. That way, you understand what goes into the estimate that you’ll receive from the experts.
Size of the Area Affected
The larger the area affected by water damage, the more time it takes to repair. A water-damaged kitchen is frustrating, but it will be less costly than repairing the entire first floor of a home.
The larger the area affected, the more dehumidification will be necessary before the other work can take place. Likewise, more widespread damage typically means that more materials will need repair and replacement.
Amount of Water
The amount of water and the area affected can be related, but they aren’t the same thing. For example, an inch of water from a broken sink pipe on the first floor could be an easy clean up, while a tiny drip from an upstairs shower that’s been unnoticed for 20 years could be a major mold or home safety issue.
On the other hand, the more water you have, the more likely it is to spread, worsening the damage and increasing the likelihood that there will still be standing water when the experts arrive for cleanup. A leak from a toilet supply line can deliver 300 gallons/hour, while a washing supply line can deliver 600 gallons of water/hour. High-volume leaks like these can cause severe, costly damage.
Type of Water
Did you know that water is broken down into categories based on the level of hazard it represents? There are three categories of water that can cause damage in your home.
- Category 1 is relatively clean water that comes from sanitary sources. It may leak from a toilet tank, a faucet, or a water pipe. It also might come in the form of melting snow. This water isn’t inherently dangerous for humans or pets. It isn’t contaminated. But you still don’t want it causing damage in your home.
- Category 2 is water that has been used. This includes washing machine or dishwasher overflow. It doesn’t contain sewage, but it still has contaminants. If left standing, this water can develop bacteria that push it into Category 3.
- Category 3 is water that has been contaminated by bacteria or sewage. If often comes from the sewer, but it doesn’t have to. Severe flood waters can also be Category 3. This water can contain bacteria, harmful chemicals, and more. Unfortunately, objects that come into contact with Category 3 water may not be salvageable. That includes your belongings, as well as the materials that make up your home.
Where the Water is Coming From
We mentioned earlier that water damage can arise from a variety of places. The origin of the damage will affect the kind of cleanup required.
For example, a leaky HVAC unit might go unnoticed for a while, if it isn’t being serviced properly. If an HVAC leak is left alone for too long, that can allow mold and mildew to grow and spread, requiring mold remediation. On the other hand, flood waters can cause widespread damage, requiring floor replacement. A small sewer backup may not cover an enormous area, but it will require special treatment because it’s Category 3 water.
If Water Is Still Present
Is there still water at the damage site? If so, that’s going to affect the restoration process. The experts you call in may need to use pumps or other special equipment to clean the water out before they can even begin doing anything else.
Other factors play in to this one, as well. Is the standing water in a large or small area? How easy is it to reach? These things can affect how easy it is to pump the water away, and how bad the overall damage is.
Time Since the Water Damage Started
We’ve already mentioned that water damage left untreated causes worse and worse problems over time. Here’s what that looks like as it develops.
- Within minutes or hours, contamination from hazardous water can spread. Furniture on wet carpet will start to stain the carpeting. Over time, wood furniture starts to swell up with water.
- Within days, you may start seeing mold and mildew appear. Paint and wallpaper may be ruined. Wood floors start warping, sometimes beyond repair. Structural wood supports may start swelling, as well.
- In about a week, the mold and mildew will grow and spread, in your furniture, the drywall, and even in the structure of your home itself.
- As weeks go by, mold will take root deep into organic materials like wood, ruining them beyond the point of salvage. Mold damage poses health hazards to the people living in the home, as well. It enters your blood stream and your lungs, affecting your immune system. Mold causes allergy symptoms, but over time it can do much more. It can start to affect your liver, kidneys, and brain, causing headaches and even affecting your memory.
- After a prolonged period, untreated water damage can affect the foundation of a house. Over time, the house starts to shift under its own weight. Basement walls may begin flexing, and the whole structure begins to sink.
Taking care of water damage quickly isn’t just a question of preserving your property, it’s a question of health and safety. That’s why it’s so important to call a restoration service right away.
Types of Materials Affected
Different materials react to water in different ways. Take flooring, for an example. Different floors are affected by water differently. On top of that, some floors are easy to replace in bits and pieces, while others must be ripped up entirely and replaced, regardless of how widespread the damage.
- Vinyl and linoleum floors are generally pretty water resistant. The main concern is that the subfloor isn’t damaged. You may be able to loosen and remove individual sections of vinyl flooring to check, instead of having to replace the whole thing.
- Laminate floors can sometimes be replaced in small patches, up to a point, before you have to rip the whole thing out and start over. Laminate reacts differently to water than many other floors. You need to dry it quickly as laminates cannot be dried once the water gets past the surface. The laminate may not start showing signs of damage until a couple of days after the damage occurs. Installation is easy, too. Even allowing for the installation of sub-floor padding, laminate flooring installation is very affordable.
- Hardwood floors may show damage pretty quickly, depending on how well-protected they are. You can repair wood floors in individual spots, if the damage isn’t bad. You eventually reach a point where it’s cheaper to replace the whole floor, but that’s not guaranteed to be the case.
- Carpeted floors are a different story. Carpet can withstand a lot of water before it reaches the point of water damage. But by the same token, all the water that it soaks up must be dried thoroughly to prevent the growth of mold within the carpet. Another disadvantage with carpet is that while you can patch it with remnants, it’s not as smooth as replacing individual tiles or pieces of hardwood. Carpet varies wildly in terms of cost per square foot. Drying carpeted floors requires specialized methods and techniques. Category 2 water will require the carpet to be replaced. Category 3 will require both the carpet and the pad to be replaced. The best way to handle it is to call a professional.
- Ceramic or Stone Tile floors are extremely resistant to water. As long as the water doesn’t reach the subfloor, you’re probably going to see less damage, and require minimal repairs. Make sure that the tile is sealed and well-grouted. If you (or whoever installed your floor) kept any extra tile on hand, then repairing a tile floor can be pretty straightforward. Tile varies in cost. Installation for these options can be a little more expensive than other options, towards the upper end of wood flooring.
Of course, flooring is just one example. All over your house, there are materials that will affect how resistant your home is to water damage, and whether repair is possible, or replacement is necessary. A good expert can help you make sense of what your home’s materials mean for the cost of your water damage restoration.
We know that the longer your water damage lasts, the more you’re at risk for mold and bacterial growth. We talked about how it can start within as little as 3 days, how it can take root within weeks, and how it can cause severe health problems as it goes.
The good news is that in addition to water damage restoration, ServiceMaster has residential mold remediation experts who can take care of this threat to your house and health.
Location of Your Home
The place that you live can affect your recovery time, as well. The basic cost of living in your area will affect water damage restoration cost, but that’s not the only way that your location factors in. If your home is in an area where the climate is more humid, dehumidifying your home will require more time and effort, and cost more.
That’s why ServiceMaster uses a network of local professionals. If you live in a state where the humidity is always high, you know that the person coming in to help you probably lives there, too, and knows how to handle it. Humidity may not be your friend when it comes to water damage repair, but you can at least ensure that you have a professional working with you whose experience you can trust.
Generally, repair is preferable to replacement. Opting to repair instead of replace saves money and materials. But that isn’t always an option. We’ve already talked about some of the factors that can necessitate reconstruction. But to recap, they include:
- Mold taking root
- Contact with contaminated water
- Destruction from storm damage
- Damage left untreated for long periods of time
Reconstruction can be an important part of getting your life back on track, but it can also affect both the timeline and the cost of your repair.
Contact the Professionals Fast
A lot of different things affect the cost of water damage restoration. And cost isn’t the only thing about fixing water damage that’s complicated. This kind of restoration work is as complex as it is crucial. That’s why it’s so important to call the experts at the first sign of trouble.