You must have heard of the damage caused by water and why itcan be a serious problem. People that know of Houston water damage are usually notaware of the science behind it. For starters, water is a chemical that has itsown chemistry.
Since the earth mostly comprises of water, some people mightthink that water is harmless. In most cases it is harmless, but excess ofanything can be bad.
As water has weight, because it is a chemical, it can causea variety of problems. You may have heard of the destruction it can cause atsea or the destruction caused by flood. Why do these things happen from aharmless chemical?
Because the harmless chemical has weight, it carries a lotof force while it travels at high speed. It can flatten buildings withinseconds if its flow speed is fast enough. Flood is however not included in water damage, but the point to be noted is that water has chemical propertiesjust like any other chemical.
Water as a chemical
Water is without doubt the best solvent in the entire world.That means, almost any chemical can dissolve in water. That is why water isused in many chemical reactions. Even in your local chemistry lab, you may findmore than a thousand uses of water. Even cleaning of apparatus requires simplehot water.
Hot water dissolves most chemical or compounds quite easily.This is an advantage, but it is also a huge disadvantage. Water getscontaminated quite easily and this can cause problems. Waste products whendumped into water can make the water dirty. This is bad for anyone who uses thewater, which was previously free from waste products, for drinking. Contaminatedwater is one of the biggest causes of water damage houston texas situations. In fact, water being a verygood solvent is perhaps the only reason why it can be so destructive and usefulat the same time.
Most of the time, water attacks other materials, causingthem to rot. Do you know about Hydrochloric acid? All acids have to have waterpresent in them. Pure Hydrogen Chloride is not corrosive. When HydrogenChloride is dissolved in water, it becomes the highly corrosive acid calledHydrochloric acid. So this means that harmless chemicals or compounds can turninto something dangerous when combined with water.
Water causes damage because it carries these harmfulchemicals and compounds to places where they do not belong. Sewage waste ifleft untreated or unprocessed can seep into the ground, making all nearby watersources highly dangerous. Most sewage waste contains pathogens, which candestroy the human body and cause a variety of diseases. It is extremelyimportant to have a good sewage system which is maintained so no leaks occur.Speaking of leaks, water damage can also be caused by leaks.
A leak in pipes or drainage systems means that the water isgoing places where is does not belong. Needless to say, water is a seriousproblem if it is present in places where it isn't required. A simple leak in ahouse wall can actually make a wall fall in worst cases. Otherwise, it candamage the paint and reduce the strength of the wall.
As you have probably noticed by now, most of the causes ofwater damage are just because water is not managed properly, besides the factthat it is a very good solvent. Solvents in general should not be kept wherethey do not belong, as they may react with nearby chemical or compounds.Contaminated water seepage into the ground can cause a huge amount of problemsas well. We all know that plants use the water present in the ground. So whathappens if the water that is present in the ground is contaminated?
It is simple, the plants get damaged. They will not producegood quality fruits or serve their purpose well. That is why farmers must keeptheir land free from contaminated water. This is easier said than done, asthere is no solution for contaminated rain water, except the use of heavyfertilizers. Irrigation can also be a problem if the water is contaminated. Sometimesthe farmers have no other choice and are forced to use contaminated water. Thisis a problem for people who consume the fruits and vegetables produced by suchfarms. The vegetables and fruits are already dangerous due to the variousinsecticides used on them. So imagine what happens to their nutrients if theydo not get clean water.
The fertilizers themselves can sometimes dissolve in waterand travel while being dissolved in it. This makes the water a receipt fordisaster. Water with high level of fertilizer concentration is as good as apotent poison. It can actually kill fish and sea creatures if it somehow makesit to a river, pond or lake. It also promotes the growth of fungus in water.The fungus can make the water look dirty and use up most of the oxygen that isdissolved in the water. This means that all of the fish inside the water willdie eventually. This is another example of how deadly water can be due to itsability to dissolve almost anything.
If we go all the way back, it was mentioned that water hasweight. That means if it gathers around a single spot, it can actually placepressure on it. That is why roofs that do not have good water drainage systems usuallyfall during heavy rain. The rain just keeps on placing pressure onto the roof,until it simply fails to hold itself. It is important for engineers orarchitects to design roofs which can sustain themselves in heavy rainconditions. Roof collapses have caused quite a large number of deaths incountries where rain is heavy and buildings are poorly built. Some of thesecountries include Pakistan, India, Vietnam and Malaysia.
What is the damage?
Water can cause wooden materials to rot. It can also promoterusting of iron. The damage is usually very slow, but some damages, likeflooding, have devastating effects and are usually very fast.
Most people will make sure that they buy insurance for theirbuildings, if their region has seen a good share of water damage. You can loseentire buildings, livestock and even human life due to water damage. Livestockmay die due to drinking contaminated water. This is the same for humans andplants or crops.
Contaminated water can also cause a variety of skindiseases. It can also carry parasites which may affect humans, some of whichare fatal. Harmful micro-organisms are the main reason for skin diseases. Contaminatedwater is known to cause allergic reactions and is one of the main causes fordeath in infants.
People affected by floods are usually compensated by thegovernment if the country can afford it. It is best to rely on insurance ratherthan the government, as polices are usually very clear. Drain and Sewercoverage in most insurance policies is an extra, which means not everyone canafford it. Water damage restoration programs can help you get rid of any waterdamage.
It is common for cites that are affected by floods toreceive assistance from FEMA. They have provided money to most cities torestore damage with successful results. Individuals can also apply for helpfrom FEMA, but assistance is not always guaranteed.
Flooding can usually cause damage amounting to millions ofdollars. That excludes the number of human losses and livestock. Water damagemay render water sources completely useless as well. Any presence ofcontaminated water at drinking sources is highly undesirable. If a singledrinking water source is contaminated, an entire city may get affected by it. Badsewage waste management can damage soil and surrounding water sources. Sewagewaste if not processed properly can make soil infertile. There is a chance thatrain water can spread sewage waste to other areas if sewage waste gathers up atone spot and is left unattended.
The damages causes by flooding are usually the most, as itis a very quick process. Faults in water pipes, drainage systems and sewagewaste usually take a very short time to fix and are not that costly. Ifcontrolled in time, these faults do not cause a considerable amount of damage.
A stitch in time saves nine, and that really holds true forwater damage. Most of the damage caused is mainly because people do notmaintain drainage systems and pipes. It is advised that you get your buildingsinsured for drainage and sewer even if you think it is perfectly built.
Clean water benefits
Although pure water isn't useful, water that is free fromany substance that can cause water damage is. There might be millions ofharmful micro-organisms inside the water that you drink, but your body fightsthem off and you stay healthy. But good luck does not last forever.
Pathogens are the most common micro-organisms found incontaminated water. You can easily transmit yourself with these micro-organismsif you drink dirty water directly. Using dirty water even in cooking can resultin an infection, which may come as a surprise because the water is exposed to alot of heat. Bathing with dirty water may cause severe skin diseases due to themicro-organisms. It is advised that you boil water prior to usage if you thinkit is contaminated. This is still not the best option, as boiling may alsodestroy any minerals that are present inside the water.
Most of the micro-organisms present inside water attackintestines. Others enter the blood through the walls of the intestines, causingsevere disorders. Water purification is very important in parts where water isknown to cause problems.
Contaminated water may also carry parasites which can harmthe body. Ever heard of the roundworm? It can be present in contaminated water,and it is by far a very dangerous parasite. Most of the parasites incontaminated water will attack the intestines or will enter the blood streamthough the walls of the intestines. Almost all parasites are extremely bad forthe human body, and can cause death if ignored. Weight loss is one of the mostcommon symptoms for infection caused by parasites and occurs because parasiteseat most of the food that you take. Malaria is not a waterborne disease though.
Parasites can infect humans even if humans come into contactwith contaminated water. Taking a bath with contaminated water can cause skininfections. This is rare and parasites that attack human skin can be easilyterminated. Most skin diseases that occur due to parasites are not fatal, butthey can cause severe irritation if left untreated or ignored.
Freeing water from germs and parasites may take time but itis not a very difficult task. A simple water purification plant is good enoughto make dirty water consumable again. Sewage waste may need sophisticatedplants to treat and process. It is best to avoid polluting clean wateraltogether too completely nullify any chance of making it dirty.
Additionally, contaminated water added into any other drinkmy cause infection as well. During the preparation of beer, the brewer must bevery careful and sterilize everything being used. This is because bacteria mayattack the beer, especially during the fermentation process. Bacterialinfection can cause extremely high fever and lose stomach. Even washing disheswith contaminated water can result in an infection. People who wash dishes withcontaminated water may end up with a skin disease or parasitic infection. Thatis why using contaminated water for anything can be as dangerous as drinking itdirectly or making skin contact with it directly.
In short, parasitic infections, bacterial infections andviral infection can occur through contaminated water. Some of the viralinfections include the very dangerous Hepatitis A. SARS was also spread thoughwater and became one of the most dangerous virus outbreaks in the history ofthe world.
Besides having an impact on human and animal life,waterborne diseases have a huge impact on a country's economy. Inunderdeveloped countries, waterborne diseases may prove to be a huge problem,as most of them do not have the funds required to get rid of them. This meansthat most waterborne diseases are left as they are, with minimal effort to getrid of it. Floods can also cause a huge amount of damage and bring entirecities down. The money required to get cities rebuilt again usually takemillions of dollars. Again, this is an expense for any country, certainly avery unfortunate one. Although human life is priceless, most water damagemostly affects property, buildings and crops.
How does water damagerestoration help
To make things simple, water damage restoration meansrestoring what was lost by water damage. That includes building and human life,but it also means that the problem that caused the damage is eliminated. Therecan be numerous causes for water damage and almost all are covered by waterdamage restoration. This includes areas affected by flood.
Currently, there are only two bodies that recommend a fewstandards, and those are the IICRC and RIA. The US has currently no governmentregulations. Water damage is not a problem in the US but in other countries,especially in the under developed ones, it is causing mayhem. Most companiesfollow the S500 standard, laid out by the IICRC. The standard makes use of veryeffective restore procedures that have been derived through extensive research,experiments and practical work. A few scientific communities, disasterrestoration organizations both national and international, equipmentmanufacturers, and restoration schools have contributed to the standard. Manyinsurance companies have also benefited from this standard, which has made afew things very clear about how to deal with water damage. S500 is constantlybeing revised and updated according to new discoveries and developments inrestoration technologies.
Is S500 the realdeal?
The S500 only defines a few practical standards, more like afoundation that is required for water damage restoration. It does not attemptteach how to restore damage done my water, but it does lay out the basics ofwhat to do in almost every given situation. Almost all of the organizations orcompanies that go for any project or job related to water damage restorationmust once review S500. This is because each and every situation related towater damage is covered by S500. This will also allow the company ororganization to analyze the requirements and scope of the project or job.Companies that want to take such projects must have all their technology andequipment up to date. They must also follow all the rules and regulations laidby the federal government or states. Some states and federal government lawscan be used to decide who can properly make a clear water damage restorationassessment. The laws can also determine who is authorized to take such projectswhile following all rules. In British Columbia, an Insurance Adjustor canauthorize or start the initial restoration process, according to the InsuranceCouncil of British Columbia. The insurance Adjustor can initiate therestoration efforts even if the damages are not covered in the insurance policy,but he/she is not responsible for the results or effect of the efforts made. Thisholds true even if the insured party is negatively affected by the restorationeffort somehow. Some people even deviate from the foundations laid by S500.They simply use common sense and knowledge to effectively restore damage.
IICRC advice forflood victims
The IICRC has a few tips for flood victims that are wellworth sharing. If flood victims follow these tips, they can greatly reduce damagecaused by water. Many human lives can be saved as well and this is what isrequired mainly.
First of all, the victims must remain patient and wait forthe rain to completely stop before doing anything. This will minimize the lossof human life and greatly reduce the chances of coming into contact withcontaminated water. The victims need to realize that when water levels risefloods can occur, and the water spreads across surrounding areas. That is whyit is important to keep a check on water levels and the boundaries of the waterbodies. What happens when a liquid that you do not want enters an area where itis not needed? It causes a great amount of destruction especially if it is agood solvent.
The bad part is that flood water collects all sort of filthas it passes. This includes dead insects, bacteria, viruses and parasites. Evengerms and micro-organisms from carcasses can also harm you in a variety ofways.
Here are the tips:
- Take extreme care while entering buildings
The worst part about water, apart from it carrying germs andparasites, is that it can also conduct electricity. To avoid being roasted byhigh voltage, it is advised that you do not enter a building that may have anelectrical source very close to the water. Sometimes water levels can rise so highthat it can reach electrical sources and completely cover them, making thoseareas an instant kill zone. Completely kill the electricity of the buildingthat you are about to enter. Animals and reptiles can also be present in thebuilding. Just be careful and do not rush inside. Try to be extra careful whenmoving objects, as no one knows what could be hiding behind them. The lastthing you want after surviving a flood is being bit by a snake or electrocuted.Patience is the key here.
- Purchase protective gear
A good organic vapor respirator is extremely good for peoplewho do not want to get infected by contaminated water. Wearing rubber gloves, arubber suit and goggles will also reduce the chances of being infected greatly.This gear will simply cover all areas that may come into contact withcontaminated water. It will still not completely protect you, so try to avoidcontaminated water altogether. Opening windows and using fans for ventilationmay further reduce the chance of infection. Again, do not rely solely on thesemethods, just wait for the water to completely disappear and try your best toavoid contact.
- Throw away contaminated items
This is easier said than done, but you must throw away itemsthat might be contaminated. It is a difficult task, as objects cannot speak sowe have to just guess or analyze to find answers. You must know which objectsneed to be disposed! Simply check which items are wet and may still be holdingcontaminated water. Items like mattresses, pillows and sponges may retaincontaminated water.
- Be aware of saturation
Wet insulation and damp walls are the common spots forsaturation. You must remove everything below 20 inches of the water line tocompletely eliminate presence of contaminated water. Sheet vinyl and hardwoodfloors should be examined to find any saturation pockets, removing them is agood idea. All saturation pockets should be dried. First sanitize and cleanthem, as you want all the germs and parasites out of them.
- Wet clothing can be freed from contamination
A good detergent coupled with an extremely good washingmachine can clean dirt, stains and any trace of contaminated water from yourclothes. You don't have to worry about clothes that much due to this reason.The only thing that you can worry about is the detergent and the washingmachine. Work hard to clean your clothes and they should become fully useableagain.
- Aggressive cleaning
You must make extreme efforts to clean the building asaggressively as possible using all the means available to you. You can usedetergent solutions with pressure washing for wall cavities and durablematerials. Just keep flushing, followed by some heavy use of a disinfectant.This should remove most, if not all, of the contaminated water. You willrequire tools and various solutions to get this part of the job done correctly.Water damage restoration professionals are well aware of all this and caneasily help you in this. They can perform all of these activities safely andeffectively.
- Mold growth prevention
Flooded buildings are an ideal place for mold growth. Toprevent growth of mold, open all windows and keep air flowing throughout thebuilding. If you keep the temperature of the building moderate, mold will notgrow as it requires a certain temperature in damp environment to grow properly.
- Make sure that everything is dry beforerebuilding
What is worse than a flooded building? It is a building thatstill has contaminated water due to flooding and hasn't been completely dried.If you fail to completely dry out the building before rebuilding, you may endup with water damage again. Moisture levels in all areas of the building mustbe below 16% to completely nullify any occurrence of water damage. A waterdamage restoration professional can help you assess the condition of yourbuilding and notify you whether the building is ready for reconstruction.
- Professionals are the key
Water damage professionals have all the tools and skillsrequired for restoring water damage. Water damage restoration companies havegot a number of technicians and equipment for drying, cleaning, anddisinfecting. Most of their equipment will remove any parasites, dust, dirt,viruses, germs and bacteria from buildings. Most of the activities can becarried out safely by them.
IICRC advice forsewage backup
So we covered a few tips regarding entering buildings, butwhat if some extremely dangerous sewage water enters buildings. Sewage watercontains all sorts of filth, especially pathogens. It can destroy human lifeand can make any building smell extremely bad. Viruses, bacteria and fungus canbe found in sewage water and most of these micro-organisms can be causelife-threatening diseases.
Sewage water is bad for people who are suffering fromrespiratory disorders or people who have weak immunity systems. They completelyfail to understand the hazards and risks involved in dealing with sewage water.This causes loss of human life!
The S500 has complete guidelines for cleaning sewage waterprofessionally. There are a few principles that everyone should follow andthose are:
1. Understanding pathogens
Pathogens are extremely dangerous, and most people are notaware of just how dangerous they can be. Sewage water contains a lot ofbacteria, fungi, viruses and parasites. Most of them are disease causing, sotry your best to completely avoid contact with sewage water. Sewage water canbe extremely dangerous if it comes into contact with damaged skin, as all thevarious micro-organisms can easily make their way to your bloodstream. Peoplewho work with sewage water must get vaccinated, especially for Hepatitis B.
2. Weak immune systems
Sewage water is like cyanide for people who do not havestrong immune systems. They can get infected extremely easily. People agedabove 60 and below 2 must at all costs avoid sewage water. Pregnant women andpeople recovering from surgery must also take extreme care and avoid sewage waterwhenever possible. A few drugs may also weaken a person's immune system, sopeople on medication should not work with sewage water either. If you areforced to come into contact with sewage water, try your best to wear protectivegear to minimize the chance of infection.
3. Stay away from buildings with sewage water
If you think that a particular building has not beenproperly cleaned, it is best that you stay away from it until it is. Thereshould be absolutely no traces of sewage water at all. Just be patient and makesure that the building is well ventilated for effective drying. Throughventilation, the chance of cross-contamination will reduce.
4. Sewage water saturation
Some materials can absorb water, and keeping materials thathave absorbed contaminated sewage water can be extremely dangerous. Materialslike carpets, pillows, cushions, sponges, pads, cotton and clothes can absorbsewage water. You will need to wash them with extremely hot water using aneffective detergent to completely eliminate all traces of sewage water. Wallsand insulation materials can also absorb sewage water, so they must becompletely removed and dried. Wooden floors must be removed to search for signsof saturation beneath them. None of these materials should only be dried.
5. Professional help is the key
Again, you cannot beat a professional. They have theequipment and the resources that can remove all traces of sewage water safelyand effectively. They have protective gear and will clear sewage watercompletely out of all effected buildings. They can also do all of their workquite quickly, which means that you can enter the building once it is clearedwithout the risk of getting infected. Professionals can also carry outclearance testing, which will make sure that the building is safe forreoccupation.
Any organized group likes to organize everything that theydeal with. Water damage classification is not hard to understand and is veryuseful in determining the cost required for full restoration. It can also givethe victims an idea of just how bad the situation might be. For professionals,it can help in accessing the situation. Here are the classes.
1. Class 1 water damage
Water damage caused in a single room or a small area isclassified as class 1 water damage. Water absorption is considered very low andlow levels of evaporation are assumed.
2. Class 2 water damage
Water damage that affects a large room or a portion of abuilding is classified as class 1 water damage. Water absorption andevaporation is considered high. Moisture must be present in most materials withwater levels less than 24".
3. Class 3 water damage
In class 3 water damage, water may have come from overheadand a large amount of water absorption is involved. Water levels may have risenabove 24" and may affect roofs, ceilings, insulation, walls and carpets.
4. Class 4 water damage
Class 4 water damage is when a building or an area requiresdrying, because pockets of saturation exist. Professional restoration effortsmay be required at this point.
- Structural and content consideration
You must understand the contents of the building and whatyou will be dealing with. There can be lots of furniture, carpets, electronics,and anything else that may be affected by water damage. The process of movingaround contents of a building is called "contents manipulation". Mostwater damage restoration organization will bill you by the hour for thisservice.
Some of the contents of the building may require sterilizationand drying. They will need to be properly cleaned and deodorized. Of course,you might need to discard materials that cannot be restored.
This is a very important part of water damage restoration. Thecleaning, drying and sterilization process must be under constant monitor tosee how the situation is improving. The machines and the equipment used must bein excellent condition to produce good results. They must be able to handle thejob at hand as well.
After water extraction, professional help must be hired tocompletely dry buildings. Professionals must keep returning to the buildings tocheck their equipment and machines.
Professionals will need to analyze the condition of thebuilding after water damage restoration has been completed according to thestandards of the industry. The building can be reoccupied after theprofessionals are fully confident that all traces of contaminated water areremoved.
There are property managers who have their own staff forwater damage restoration to reduce cost. Usually the staff knows how to carryout restoration procedures effectively.
In the end, water damage restoration is all about restoringwhat is lost by water damage. Water damage can cause loss of human life and canharm livestock. Crops can also be affected. There are a few standards, like theS500 introduced by IICRC, which can lay a foundation for restorationprocedures.
As water crosses the boundaries of its body, it dissolvesvarious micro-organisms and substances inside it. Viruses, bacteria, pathogensand insect carcasses are usually part of contaminated water. Contaminated watercan cause a variety of different diseases. Coming into contact with this kindof water may result in severe skin infections and allergic reactions. Drinkingcontaminated water can be fatal.
Parasites can be inside contaminated water as well.Roundworm can enter the human body through consumption of contaminated water.Intestines are usually affected, but parasites can get into the blood streamvia the walls of the intestines to cause further damage.
Water damage that has affected buildings has to be taken outbefore anything else. The building then needs to be sterilized and dried beforeit can be reoccupied. This may require use of special equipment that only waterdamage restoration organizations can provide.