The first item to take care of for a leaking or broken or flooded water heater is turning off the water. Most homes or condo/apartment complexes have a main shutoff valve for the building. Many times it is located in the garage (if you have one), near the hot water heater, or around the circumference of the building near the ground. If you can’t locate this then you can check the other main shutoff valve that is usually near the street, curb, or exterior of the perimeter of the property (where the main water line comes in).
Once you have stopped the water and further immediate damage to the property then then next step is extracting the water. Cleanup the water damage as much as you can. Take care to not touch water that is near electrical outlets, extension cords, etc. It would be a wise decision to turn the electricity off before this step to be for sure, if that is an option. You can locate your fuse breaker box and turn off the area you are removing the water (i.e. garage, laundry room, etc).
Location factors: The location of the hot water heater is a big deciding factor on how you will get the water correctly removed and dried out so that there isn’t an issue with mold. It is not just important to remove the standing water; it is also paramount to dry items out that got wet and are retaining moisture (i.e. wet drywall, wet carpet, flooded wood floors, soaked cabinets, etc). So, for example if the water heater is in a garage and on a concrete pad there will be much less work and drying to do than if it is located in a laundry room on wood floors and next to drywalled walls that all got soaked. In all cases, focus on the expensive to replace materials (i.e. hardwood floors) and porous materials (i.e. drywall & cabinets) first and work your way down to the easier to replace items. In this manner the most expensive and important items are taken care of as quickly as possible.
Airmovers and dehumidifiers setup: The next step is to control the drying environment. Whether it is apparent or not, the wetness in all the porous materials will increase the humidity in the affected room (i.e. garage, laundry room, etc). Adding airmovers haults mold growth. Adding dehumidifiers dries the air and “pulls” the moisture out of the affected, wet materials.
Monitoring: daily you want to monitor the moisture content of the affected areas to bring them back to normal moisture content. This can be done with a penetrating or non-penetrating meter. Some are digital and some are analog. The important factor is to check a similar material in an unaffected room (i.e. drywall, hardwood flooring, etc) and then monitor the drying to bring the moisture content at least down to that level. This is called the “dry standard” for that particular type of material. It will be different for each type of material.
Type of water: one thing to consider is the type of water. Most water from a hot water heater would be “clean” water (i.e. it is safe normally to consume by humans). But if the water, for example, is in the garage and mixes with motor oil on the ground, it becomes “black” water or Category 3, sewage type water. In this case the affected areas that are porous should be removed instead of trying to dry them in place.
After all of this is done then the areas of items that were removed, need to be replaced. This could include insulation, drywalling, baseboard replacement, door casing replacement, painting, etc.
If any of this is too daunting to take on your own, give us a call. We do water, fire, and mold emergency restoration cleanup and associated reconstruction services.
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