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Can You Handle Water Damage By Yourself?

11/24/2020 (Permalink)

large question mark with text: should you handle water damage yourself? When you find water damage, you may be tempted to DIY the clean up and repairs to save some cash - But should you?

Majority of homeowners will experience water damage at some point. Roughly 14,000 people have a water damage emergency every day, causing you to wonder if you can handle water damage yourself. Here, we will review the issues that may arise when you handle water damage yourself instead of calling the pros.

Contaminated Water

Not all floodwater is equal. Depending on the source, there are different types of water - Some of which can make you seriously ill. Before ever attempting to handle flooding or water damage yourself, you must know what category of water you are dealing with.

Category 1: Clean Water

This water comes from a clean source, such as a burst pipe, water supply line, or faucet. This water is not harmful, but can quickly degrade to category 2 or 3 water depending on time, temperature, or contact with external contaminants.

Category 2: Gray Water

This water comes from a not completely clean source and could cause discomfort or illness if accidentally ingested. Sources of grey water include washing machines, dishwasher overflows, or a toilet overflow with urine but no feces. This type of water can quickly degrade into category 3 when left untreated.

Category 3: Black Water

This water is completely unsanitary and can cause severe illness or even death if ingested. You should avoid any contact with black water as it can contain harsh chemicals, raw sewage, or harmful bacteria. Sources of black water include sewer backups, flooding from rivers or streams, or long-standing water that has microbial growth.

If you're not sure the category of water or it is category 2 or 3, do not perform clean up for your own safety. Professional flood cleanup companies are trained and have the protective clothing needed to properly handle contaminated water or even raw sewage.

Insufficient Equipment

When you handle water damage yourself you won't have the same detection, water removal, or drying equipment that water damage restoration companies use. The household fans, dehumidifiers, or wet vacuums you use may not be sufficient to clean up all your water damage and properly dry out your home.

Restoration professionals use high power air movers, different types of humidifiers, as well as specialized moisture detection equipment to find all moisture and completely eradicate it. Depending on the amount of water that damaged your home, incorrect or insufficient equipment will cause the following issues that we outline here.

Structural Damage

Water damage can be a destructive force to your home. When water damage is any more than cosmetic, there are possibilities of structural damages to your home. These can include wood rot, buckling or soft walls & floors, or even sagging ceilings.

When the affected areas of your home aren't properly dried out, they will decay over time and need extensive repairs. When handling water damage yourself, it's easy to miss out-of-sight water damage and mistakenly think your work is complete.

Mold

Mold is always a possibility after water damage - growing in as little as 48 hours after water damage. But with fast action, it can usually be avoided. The less amount of time there is flood water or high moisture in your home, the less likely there is to be mold growth.

Issues with mold arise when moisture problems are not properly resolved. When you handle water damage yourself, you may feel that the drying process is completely and no moisture remains. Unfortunately, without the right equipment you may be mistaken that your efforts are complete. In these cases, you may notice a large mold problem shortly after handling water damage yourself.

When Can You Handle Water Damage Yourself?

We would only recommend DIY water restoration when you have a very small water problem. This could be a small amount of basement water seepage or a pipe leaking for a few days on concrete floor before you realized. You should only DIY water damage when you can be sure water has not migrated to other parts of your home and affected other materials.

A good rule of thumb is that if your water damage is something that would be covered by your insurance company you shouldn't do it yourself. You pay homeowner's insurance for a reason and its possible that the damages caused from handling water damage yourself will not be covered by insurance later. This is because insurance covers sudden and unforeseen damages. When you incorrectly handle water damage yourself, it's possible they will see it as your fault and deny your claim.

Checklist For Preparing For A Blizzard

11/16/2020 (Permalink)

photo of people walking in blizzard on street Follow this checklist to be prepared in case of an extreme blizzard this winter.

Here in New England, winter storms are nothing new. Most households are no stranger to preparing for snow throughout the winter season. But, there are times when extreme weather rolls through and brings blizzards that can last days and keep you snowed in for even longer. 

When you know a blizzard is coming your way, you should be sure to take steps to prepare for low outdoor visibility, extreme cold, possible power outages, and even disruption to usual emergency services. Follow this checklist to prepare for a blizzard and keep your family safe and warm, even if you’re snowed in. 

Preparing For A Blizzard: Checklist

  • Prepare or replenish your emergency survival kit. Your kit should have all the supplies needed in the event of an emergency or major disaster, and should be able to last for days. Your kit should also be easy to carry in case you must evacuate your home. According to the Red Cross, your emergency kit should at minimum contain the following:
    • Water - One gallon per person, per day
    • Food - Non-perishable items that are easy to prepare, even without power
    • Flashlight - Battery powered and hand-crank is best
    • Radio - Battery powered or hand-crank
    • Extra batteries
    • Complete first aid kit
    • Enough of your everyday medication to last 2 weeks
    • A multi-purpose tool
    • Personal hygiene items
    • Copies of all important personal documents
    • Cell phones and chargers
    • Emergency contact information
    • Extra cash
    • Emergency blanket
    • Pet supplies (if you have one)
  • Have your vehicle ready in case of emergencies or evacuation. Fill up your gas tank and make sure it is ready to drive in the snow. Keep a shovel and kitty litter in your car in case you get stuck in the snow.
  • Charge electronic devices. Make sure phones are charged along with any portable chargers you may own.
  • Prepare your home. It’s best to storm proof your home every winter to keep it better insulated from the cold - but this is even more important during a blizzard, especially if you lose power. Apply weather-stripping to doors and windows and seal any cracks or air gaps. Insulate pipes, especially those on the exterior walls of your home so they do not freeze and burst during the storm. 
  • Gather warm clothing. In case the worst happens, having thick, layered clothing is a must to stay warm. Gather any winter hats or gloves you may also have around the house.
  • Bring any outdoor animals inside or move them to a safe place. If you wouldn’t want to be out in the storm - neither do your animals. Be sure to give them enough food, water, and shelter to last the blizzard. 
  • Arrange for a secondary heating source. If you have a fireplace, stock up on firewood. If using a portable generator, remember to get fuel and store it in an airtight gas can (not in your living space).
  • Test or install fire and carbon monoxide detectors. This is important in case the power goes out and you utilize a fireplace, portable generator, or candles for light or heat.
  • Buy a snow shovel before the snow starts. Without a shovel, you may be stuck in your house for longer than planned. Getting ice melt, salt, or sand will also be helpful. We recommend purchasing all of this at the beginning of the winter season to beat the pre-storm store rush.
  • Research where you can get shelter if you cannot stay in your home. If the power goes out for an extended amount of time or a tree falls on your home during the blizzard, you will want to know where the closest shelter is or have arranged to stay with friends or family.
  • Learn the signs of frostbite and hypothermia. If the power goes out or you are stranded in the cold, it's important to know the signs of these so you can begin treatment right away.
    • Frostbite: Causes loss of feeling and colors around your face, fingers, and toes. Skin may turn white or grayish-yellow. If you suspect frostbite, go to a warm room, soak in warm water, or use body heat to warm. Do not use a heating pad.
    • Hypothermia: Unusually low body temperature, under 95 degrees. Signs of this are shivering, exhaustion, confusion, fumbling hands, memory loss, slurred speech or drowsiness. If you suspect hypothermia you can do the following: Go to a warm room, warm the center of the body first (chest, neck, head, groin), keep dry and wrapped in warm blankets.

During the Blizzard

During a blizzard, you should always stay off of the roads if possible. Visibility becomes extremely limited and it’s possible to get stuck where plows have not reached yet. If stranded in a car during a blizzard, keep warm as best you can, use your emergency kit, and call for help.

You should also stay up to date with the latest weather reports throughout the storm. This will keep you informed as to how long the blizzard will last, how much snow and ice to expect, and will provide any updates in case of evacuation.

Also be sure to keep all windows, doors, curtains, or blinds closed during a blizzard. This helps keep as much heat as possible inside your house and prevent cold drafts from outside. 

If you follow the checklist above, you and your family should be able to stay safe even if your home loses power during the blizzard. Staying warm, hydrated, and eating enough should be sufficient until you can stay in a place with power or power returns to your home.

What Is Water Mitigation? Comparing With Water Restoration

11/11/2020 (Permalink)

equipment used for water mitigation The above specialized equipment is used to mitigate damages after flooding or water leaks.

When flooding or water damage affects your home, you will have to call a company to perform "water mitigation services". But what is the water mitigation definition? And how is it different from water damage restoration? Here, we will review the differences between these services so you'll be prepared when a water damage company visits your home.

What is Water Damage Mitigation?

Mitigation is the process of reducing further damages to your home or business - whether that be after a fire or a flood. Water mitigation companies use specialized techniques and equipment to minimize your loss.

The water mitigation process includes:

  • Cleaning and disinfecting salvageable materials and items
  • Extracting standing water from building materials that can be salvaged
  • Removing any wet furniture or debris from the property
  • Securing and stabilizing the property to prevent further damages by boarding up windows, using tarps, and other necessary actions
  • Drying out the home with commercial grade equipment: Air movers, dehumidifiers, floor drying mats, and more

The goal of mitigation is to ensure there are no further consequences from the disaster - not repair them. This helps prevent structural decay, building deterioration, and mold and mildew growth. These issues can make recovering after your water loss much more extensive.

What is Water Damage Restoration?

Restoration refers to bringing your damaged property back to it's former conditions. Water restoration means bringing your home back to pre-water loss conditions through reconstruction and rebuilding. This can only be done after the water mitigation process has been completed. Your property cannot be repaired until all water damage problems have been addressed.

Water damage restoration companies typically do the following:

  • Replace any damaged flooring, drywall, or other building materials
  • Remediate any mold issues
  • Test residual humidity and moisture before deeming the process complete
  • Resolve any cosmetic issues from your water damage
  • Repair structural damages
  • Remove any unwanted odors from the property

Are Mitigation and Restoration Companies the Same?

In most cases, water damage companies provide both mitigation and restoration services - as they are two sides of the same coin. It is best to use a company that does mitigation, restoration, and is well versed in construction. This ensures the process is completed seamlessly and by qualified professionals.

Using a company that provides both mitigation and restoration is also cost-effective. In many cases, it is cheaper to clean and restore rather than completely replacing all damaged materials. Experienced restoration companies know what materials can be saved and what must be thrown away.

Fire Safety In The Workplace

11/4/2020 (Permalink)

fire in an office near computers Assessing fire hazards and creating a fire safety plan in your workplace is essential to keep employees safe and your business open.

Taking steps for fire prevention in the workplace is highly important to keep your employees safe and avoid major property damage. Every year there are roughly 17,000 workplace fires that cause over $800 million in fire damage, forcing businesses to close sometimes for months. Creating a plan and learning how to reduce the risk of fires in the workplace can help keep your workplace safe & open.

How To Reduce Risk of Fires in The Workplace

Conduct Training in Fire Safety For Employees

Train employees how to use fire extinguishers, proper handling and storage of flammable liquids or chemicals, and make sure they know what to do in the event of a fire. It is also wise to assign a person to oversee fire safety in the building who has a clear understanding of conditions that could cause a fire and what to do if it happens.

According to FEMA, you should teach employees the following protocol in case of a fire emergency:

  • Call 911
  • Notify others in the building of the fire
  • Do not use the elevator. Walk out of the building, don't run
  • If employees cannot evacuate, teach them the following:
    • Seal door gaps with jackets
    • Wait at the window for help and make it clear you are stuck
    • Remain calm

Identify Any Fire Risks In The Building

Many fires can be prevented before they ever start. Inspect the following common workplace fire hazards and make sure that they are working properly, not damaged, or are properly stored away:

  • Cooking Appliances - Leave enough room behind ones that heat up to cool down and keep them away from flammable materials.
  • Electrical Wiring - Outdated or overloaded electrical wiring and power strips pose a large electrical fire hazard.
  • Heating Appliances - When not working properly, these have the possibility of misfiring or exploding.
  • Flammable Liquids - Make sure that employees are storing and disposing of these correctly, away from any heating sources or possible sparks.
  • Clutter - Areas cluttered with papers, dust, or other flammable materials should be tidied up to help prevent the spread of a fire should one occur.

Clearly Post Emergency Exits & Evacuation Plans

In case of a fire, you want even those who are not familiar with your building to be able to easily evacuate. Make sure that that there are also emergency exits that are accessible for people who are disabled.

Install a Fire Suppression System

Installing a sprinkler system in your workplace can help stop a fire in its tracks and give employees extra time to evacuate the building. This will also help to prevent major fire damage to your property.

Regularly Test Smoke Alarms

Your fire alarm system is a hugely essential asset in fire safety in the workplace, notifying employees of a fire. These are even more important when a workplace does not have a sprinkler system installed to automatically put out a fire.

Establish Designated Smoking Areas

If there is anywhere in your business where people should not be smoking due to flammable materials, clearly post it. Then, choose an area that is not directly next to the building where there are no fire hazards for employees to smoke.

Following these tips and creating a fire prevention plan for you workplace is an easy, preventative task to keep your business up and running. Be sure to consult the OSHA guidelines for your industry and check if there are any other steps your workplace is required to take as this varies.

Frequently Asked Questions About Water Damage Restoration

10/28/2020 (Permalink)

frequently asked questions about water damage restoration process SERVPRO of Old Saybrook can answer all your water damage questions!

When dealing with water damage in your home, you may have a lot of questions surrounding SERVPRO of Old Saybrook’s services. To help out, our highly trained team has answered the frequently asked questions about water damage restoration here! 

SERVPRO of Old Saybrook Answers Your Water Damage Questions

Q: How much does SERVPRO charge for water damage restoration?

A: Every water damage event is different, so it is hard to specify restoration costs. The average cost of a home water damage claim is $6,965, but can be more or less expensive. SERVPRO provides free estimates to our customers after assessing the size of the area affected, amount of water, how much equipment is needed and more. Your Project Manager will explain these details in full.

Q: Does SERVPRO accept insurance?

A: SERVPRO accepts all home and commercial insurance carriers. We will work directly with your insurance company to help lessen the stress of the situation. All we will need is your Insurance carrier’s name and your claim number to take over the process for you. 

Q: How does SERVPRO restore my home after water damage?

A: Here at SERVPRO of Old Saybrook, we follow a tried and true method of water damage restoration to ensure your home or business is completely and properly dried after flooding:  

Q: How long will the drying process take?

A: After your initial emergency service, the drying process takes an average of 3-5 days to complete. This is based on the amount of damage to your home or business. The drying process will be monitored by a Project Manager, who will determine when your structure has met drying standards. 

Q: Does SERVPRO prevent mold when addressing water damage?

A: By rapidly removing water and beginning the drying process as soon as possible, SERVPRO of Old Saybrook naturally does all we can to prevent the growth of mold in your property. Our team sanitizes and disinfects the damaged area with our antimicrobial treatment to remove any bacteria and prevent mold growth.

Q: Will water damage always cause mold to grow?

A: Since mold spores thrive on moisture, it is likely but not certain that mold will begin to grow in your property. Mold can begin to grow and spread in as little as 48 hours after water damage or flooding. If you take fast action, the likelihood of mold growing is much less likely. 

Q: Can SERVPRO handle damage from a natural disaster? 

A: Yes, SERVPRO of Old Saybrook is equipped to handle any storm-related disasters. In the event of major hurricanes or tornadoes, our Disaster Response Team may be dispatched to support the hardest hit areas. 

Signs of A Chimney Fire & How To Prevent One

10/27/2020 (Permalink)

photo of flames coming out of chimney because of a chimney fire Taking steps to prevent a chimney fire in your home can save you thousands in fire damage and possibly save your life.

Using your fireplace during the winter months can help keep your heating costs down and make your home feel relaxed and cozy. But if you forget about your dirty chimney, you're putting your home at risk of a fire. Here we will go over the signs of chimney fires and how to prevent them.

What Causes Chimney Fires?

A fire in your chimney is caused by a buildup of creosote. When you burn wood, it gives off by-products of combustion which includes smoke, water vapor, gases, unburned wood particles, tar, and assorted minerals. These by-products travel from the hot hearth and up the relatively cooler chimney, which causes condensation along the flue. This condensation causes the by-products of a fire to collect over time inside the chimney, producing what we call creosote.

Creosote buildup appears in many different forms. It can be crusty, flaky, or puffy, tar-like and sticky, or even shiny and hardened. Creosote in any form is highly combustible, posing a major fire risk to your home when it causes a dirty chimney. Once creosote begins to collect, it will continue as the buildup will restrict the air supply of the chimney and create conditions for more creosote to buildup.

When creosote is built up enough, high temperatures from a roaring fire in the hearth are enough to catch the creosote on fire. Crackling wood or debris floating up the chimney can cause the highly flammable creosote to catch on fire as well.

Signs of the 2 Types of Chimney Fires

Fast-Burning Chimney Fire

These types of fires are extremely obvious when they happen and can even be seen by your neighbors. Fast-burning chimney fires rapidly consume the flammable creosote on the inside of the chimney. The larger amount of creosote there is the more intense the fire will be.

Signs of fast-burning chimney fires are:

  • Loud crackling or popping noises from the chimney, similar in sound to a large bonfire
  • Large amount of dense smoke coming out of the fireplace or the top of the chimney
  • Flames coming out of the top of the chimney
  • Pieces of flaming creosote dropping down into the fireplace
  • Strong, hot smell
  • A loud roaring sound, many times compared to a train or airplane going by

If you notice any of these signs in your home, immediately get everyone out of the house and call 911. While the fire is contained in your chimney, it can easily spread to other parts of the home as it continues to burn.

Slow-Burning Chimney Fire

These types of fire are not so easy to detect and can happen without you ever even knowing. Slow-burning chimney fires start the same way as fast-burning, but these do not have enough fuel or oxygen to be visible or audible while they burn.

Although they are not as explosive as fast-burning fires, they can cause just as much damage over time. You may not know what type of damages slow burning fires are causing until it is too late. Over time, these slow-burning fires can weaken the sides of the chimney enough to spread to your house.

Signs of slow-burning chimney fires are:

  • Puffy creosote. This means that the creosote has lit on fire at some point, as it is usually flat and shiny
  • Warped metal components. This an include the damper, chimney cap, or the metal pipes of wood stoves
  • Heat damage to the roof
  • Cracked or damaged flue tiles, or some that are missing
  • Finding chunks of creosote outside or inside the fireplace
  • Cracks on the outside masonry of the chimney
  • Seeing smoke escape through the sides of the chimney

It's important to remember that all these signs indicate that there has already been a fire in your chimney and that you need to immediately take steps to have your chimney inspected and cleaned by a certified chimney sweep. Do not use your fireplace after you have identified any of these signs. Unfortunately, many of these cannot be detected unless you are on the roof or are a chimney professional.

Preventing Chimney Fires

  1. Schedule regular inspections for your chimney system to catch problems before they start
  2. Be sure to have a professional clean your chimney at least once a year to prevent excessive creosote buildup
  3. Burn properly seasoned wood that will burn more cleanly and produce less by-products of combustion
  4. Make sure that there is proper airflow for your chimney, as this is a factor that helps creosote buildup
  5. Don't burn roaring fires that aren't the appropriate size for your fireplace, as the heat can cause creosote to catch on fire

Water Damage From Gutters: Signs & Prevention

10/21/2020 (Permalink)

clogged gutter overflowing and causing water damage to home Overflowing gutters are easy to fix, but the surprising damages that come from them are not.

It may not be obvious, but the gutters of your home can be a major culprit of water damage. Your gutter system is designed to carry water away from your home, helping to protect it from flooding and structural damages. Gutters also protect the siding of your home and window frames from water damage.

When gutters are clogged, heavy rains can cause them to overflow and direct gallons of water directly down the side of your house and to the ground below - Doing the exact opposite of what they are designed to do. Blocked gutter damage can cause huge problems for your home inside and out. Here, we will review the signs of damage from gutters and what you can do to prevent it.

Signs Clogged Gutters Are Causing Water Damage

  • Water Flowing Down Siding - When water in your gutters cannot flow down the downspouts, it overflows and runs down the exterior wall. Although the siding of your home is designed to withstand water, they are not completely waterproof, meaning that they will not withstand a constant flow of water. This constant flow will eventually seep behind the siding, penetrate the exterior sheathing of your home, and find it's way to the living space of your home.
  • Higher Levels of Groundwater - The overflowing water from the clogged gutter saturates the ground immediately below. This increase of groundwater directly outside the foundation of your home increases hydrostatic pressure on your foundation and makes basement flooding more likely.
  • Cracks in the Foundation - The amount of water flowing directly to the foundation of your home can wear it down, shift it, and cause cracks and buckling.
  • Basement Flooding When It Rains - As mentioned earlier, the higher level of groundwater makes it more likely that your basement will be wet when it rains. Clogged gutters cause water in basements.
  • Rotting Wood - If you notice wood on your roof, soffit, or fascia boards of your home, it is likely due to standing water from overflowing gutters. Even a few hours of standing water can cause wood to begin to rot.
  • Water in Attic - Clogged gutters become heavy due to the weight of trapped water and may begin to pull away from your home. When this happens, it can pull at the soffit and fascia of the roof and allow water to flow into the attic causing water damage and mold growth.

The water damage from clogged gutters can affect every level of your home, from the attic to the basement.

Preventing Blocked Gutter Damage

Preventing your gutters from overflowing and causing water damage to your home is quite easy. All you have to do is clear out any debris from your gutters at least once a year. This is most important to be done towards the end of fall and in the spring, as these are the times of year where the most debris may be caught in your gutters.

When cleaning out your gutters, be sure to take proper safety steps. Find a tall enough ladder, thick gloves, buckets, and a hose to clear debris out. Be sure to have someone at the bottom of your ladder in cause you lose stability or lose your grip.

What Are The Warning Signs of A Tornado?

10/19/2020 (Permalink)

photo of a large tree on top of a house after a tornado Finding safe shelter is the most important thing to do when you have a tornado warning in your area.

Warning Signs of a Tornado

If you see these warning signs of a tornado, go inside immediately and check your local weather announcements for watches or warnings. Tornadoes can hit seemingly out of nowhere and destroy everything in their path - flipping cars, uprooting trees, and even taking the roof off of homes or businesses.

  • Dark, green tinted sky
  • Wall clouds, or a cloud of debris
  • A funnel-shaped cloud
  • Large hail without rain
  • Roaring noise, similar to a freight train
  • Unusual calmness of wind

What’s The Difference Between A Tornado Watch Vs. Warning?

A tornado watch means that the current outdoor weather conditions are just right for a tornado to form. When you receive notification of a warning, you should continue watching your local weather announcements and avoid going outside until you’ve been told it has passed. 

A tornado warning means that the weather is right for a tornado and one has been identified in your surrounding area. When you receive notification of a warning, immediately find shelter and take cover. 

What Should You Do When A Tornado Hits?

If you have a tornado warning in your area, according to ready.gov you should do the following:

  • Go inside the nearest building if possible.
  • Go to a safe room, basement or cellar. If there is no basement, take shelter in a small interior room on the lowest floor of the building.
  • Stay away from all windows, doors, or outside walls.
  • Stay away from bridges or overpasses if possible - look for low, flat locations to take shelter if you’re outside or in your car.
  • Stay aware of any flying debris that can injure you if you are outside.
  • Use your arms to protect your head and neck regardless of where you are. 

During a tornado, you should do the following:

  • Stay in your safe location and do not leave until you know it is safe to do so.
  • Better protect yourself from flying or falling debris by putting your arms around your head and neck and barricading furniture or blankets around you to protect from heavy objects.
  • Listen to your local emergency or weather station for updates.
  • Do not try to outrun tornadoes in a car. Find a relatively sheltered, low place where you can put your arms over your head and crouch.

What Do You Do After?

  • Continue listening for weather updates to be sure nothing else is coming your way.
  • If you are trapped, cover your mouth to try and not breath in dust or debris. Send a text, bang on a wall or a pipe, or whistle instead of yelling for help.
  • Stay clear of any fallen power lines or trees.
  • Do not reenter buildings that have been damaged until you're told they are safe (This will likely not be the same day).
  • When cleaning up any debris, be sure to wear thick gloves and work boots for safety.
  • Call your insurance company if your home or business has been damaged by the tornado.

Need Help After A Storm? Call SERVPRO- 800-734-3213

SERVPRO of Old Saybrook is a 24/7 damage restoration company specializing in water damage, storm damage, fire damage, and mold remediation. Whatever the disaster, we work hard to make it "Like it never even happened."

What To Do When The Toilet Overflows

10/12/2020 (Permalink)

man at overflowing toilet with plunger figuring out what to do Follow these tips if your toilet begins to overflow!

Toilet overflows are a nightmare for any homeowner regardless of the cause. If not handled quickly, you may have considerable water damage from the toilet overflow, especially if it happens on an upper level of your home. Here, we will go over what to do when you find water pouring out of your toilet and what damages you should be aware of.

What To Do When Your Toilet Overflows

Avoid using all plumbing if you're not sure what is causing the overflow.

If the toilet began to overflow immediately after flushing, it is likely just clogged and may be an easy fix. If the overflow occurred without flushing, it is likely that there is a clog somewhere in the main drain or sewer line. When this happens, running water exiting your home has nowhere to go and will backflow to the toilet or shower. Unless you are sure of the issue, try not to use the water to prevent additional damages to your home.

Turn the water off to the toilet.

There are multiple ways to do this. The first way is to turn the valve on the wall behind the toilet off to cut the water supply. If you cannot find this, you can take the lid off the toilet tank and lift the float high enough so that the water stops running and in turn stops filling the toilet bowl. From there, you can turn off the main water valve to your house which is likely located near your water heater.

If water continues to flow after shutting off the water, immediately call a plumber.

This means that you're not just dealing with a toilet clog, but likely a sewage backup from your septic tank or your city's septic system.

Clear the clog.

This can be accomplished a few ways and should be tried in this order. Before taking any of these steps, grab a pair of gloves and a bucket to remove some of the excess water from the toilet. This will help prevent splashing the water on to the floors, walls, or yourself during this process.

  • Plunge the clog - Get a plunger with a flange on the bottom that will create a tight seal around the toilet drain hole to best dislodge the clog. Keeping the plunger upright, push up and down for about 15 to 20 seconds to force water and air into the drain. The toilet may begin to drain itself or require you to flush again to completely clear the clog.
  • Snake the drain - A toilet snake is a flexible cable that can navigate through the twists and turns of the toilet drain. Put the hook end of the snake into the toilet bowl and turn the crank on it clockwise to extend the cable down into the drain. When you can't go any further, you've found your clog. Then, turn the crank counter clockwise to pull the clog out of the drain and pour it out into a bucket. Perform this process a few times to be sure you've completely gotten rid of the clog. Then, pour what you have in your bucket back into the toilet in small amounts to properly dispose of it.
  • If neither of these work or the second option seems like more than you can (or want) to handle, call a local plumbing professional to do it for you.

Clean up standing water - if safe to do so.

If the water that comes out of your toilet is clean water from a toilet malfunction, you may be able to clean up water yourself with proper protective equipment. But, if this water has any foreign objects or contaminants such as waste - you should call a professional water damage restoration company to do the cleanup for you. Contaminated water is dangerous and can contain raw sewage, bacteria, or other microorganisms which can make you extremely ill when you come in contact with it.

What Damage Can A Toilet Overflow Cause?

Even when you clean up the water from a toilet overflow yourself and don't see any damage doesn't mean it's not there. Depending on where the overflow happened and for how long, the water from it can damage:

  • Drywall
  • Subfloors
  • Flooring
  • Ceilings of lower level rooms
  • Carpet
  • Insulation
  • Electrical wiring
  • Produce mold growth

When a toilet overflow happens to you, it's best to call a water damage restoration service that can work directly with your insurance company. These companies are sure to remove all water, completely dry your property, and properly clean & sanitize afterwards to ensure your family does not experience health effects and that no mold will grow.

Need Help After A Toilet Overflow? Call SERVPRO - 860-388-1776

SERVPRO of Old Saybrook is a 24/7 emergency service specializing in water damage, fire damage, mold remediation and COVID-19 disinfection services. Don't wait for damage to get worse, call SERVPRO to make it "Like it never even happened."

What To Do When A Sink Overflows

10/9/2020 (Permalink)

photo of a bathroom sink overflowing Sink overflows are easy to avoid, but not as easy to clean up.

When a sink overflows, it can cause a considerable amount of water damage to your home. The wet mess left behind can also be a headache to clean up. Here, we'll go over why sinks overflow, what to do when they do, and how to prevent it from happening again in the future.

Causes of Sink Overflows

Clogged Drain

When you have a clogged drain from food scraps, hair, or grease and leave the water running, you're likely to run into a big mess.

Clogged Sink Overflow

Some sinks have overflow holes that help to drain it before the water makes it over the sink bowl. They also help water go down the drain faster. This is mostly common with bathroom sinks, and unfortunately not common with kitchen sinks.

What To Do When It Happens

  1. Turn off the sink.
  2. Grab any towels or mops to start cleaning up standing water on the floor.
  3. Set up any fans or dehumidifiers you may have in the affected area to help it dry.
  4. Empty out the full sink with a bucket or large bowl.
  5. Call a plumber or clear the sink clog yourself. You can do this by trying to run the garbage disposal, using a plunger, using a chemical like drain-o to clear the clog, or try pouring half a cup of salt into the drain followed by a pot of boiling hot water.
  6. Depending on damages, call your insurance company to file a claim. You'll want to do this if the water penetrated the floor and is affecting the ceilings of other levels.
  7. Call a water damage restoration company to ensure your home is properly dried out.

What Damage Can A Sink Overflow Cause?

The damages that result from water overflowing from a sink can be considerable, especially if the issue was going unnoticed for a while.

  • Water damage to floor. If water gets underneath tile, laminate, or any other flooring type you have in the affected area it can reach the subfloor and leave it wet. Over time, this will weaken the structure of your home as the moist floor joists begin to rot out.
  • Damage to rooms below. If water does damage to the floor the overflow occurred in, the water is likely to leak down to the room below causing water damage to the ceiling. If the overflow goes unnoticed for an extended amount of time the leak may even damage the floor below or even cause flooding.
  • Mold or mildew growth. When you just clean up visible water with towels and a mop but do nothing else, you're much more likely to experience mold growth. When an area is exposed to moisture, mold can begin to grow in as little as 48 hours when the water damage is not addressed.

How To Prevent Sink Overflows

  • Do not put grease down drains.
  • Try to keep hair out of drains.
  • Don't put food scraps down the drain.
  • Properly use the garbage disposal.
  • Get a drain strainer to prevent scraps from going down the drain.
  • Clean out your sink overflow to help it drain faster and prevent it from backing up.

Flooding From Sink Overflow? Call SERVPRO - 860-388-1776

SERVPRO of Old Saybrook is a 24/7 damage restoration company specializing in fire damage, water damage, mold remediation and COVID-19 disinfection. We're here to make any disaster "Like it never even happened."