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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

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 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.

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