7 Steps to Take After Heavy Water Damage

Commercial properties are not immune to the dangers of flooding and pipe leaks. Unfortunately, commercial water damage occurs far too often. The after-effects severely impact infrastructure and income. When left untreated, the excess water can cause mold formation, impair building features and expose employees to dangerous contaminants. It’s crucial to address water damage as swiftly as possible to prevent further harm.

In the aftermath of a flood or excess water, there are essential steps you should take to protect your property. For commercial properties, it’s vital to address the damage thoroughly to avoid any lost revenue. Here are some things to keep in mind after water damage occurs.

What Water Damage Can Do to Your Commercial Property

There are both apparent and hidden effects of water damage for commercial properties. Excess water can spread through the building, ruining features like drywall and insulation. Or, if severe enough, the damage could stop business operations altogether. While insurance can cover some costs, the financial implications could outweigh the coverage. The damage has consequences in the immediate aftermath and the long-term, especially when not appropriately addressed.

Here are more short-term effects:

  • Saturated flooring: Within minutes of exposure to high amounts of water, carpet and wood begin to absorb moisture. Carpets and padding start to stain with saturation.
  • Destroyed documents and belongings: Certain items might become unsalvageable or impaired if the water reaches any important paperwork or documentation.
  • Damaged equipment: Commercial properties use a variety of machinery for day-to-day operations. Anything from payment technology to product inventory might encounter harm.
  • Development of contaminants: In less than 48 hours, flood water can deteriorate into gray water and then black water. These waters contain dangerous contaminants that cause infections. You should avoid exposure to black water at all costs due to its toxicity.

Water damage creates many long-lasting consequences for commercial properties if not handled correctly. Here are some examples:

  • Development of mold: Poorly treated water contamination leads to mold development. Mold spores spread easily across damp surfaces and create health hazards. If left untreated, mold impairs infrastructure until it is unhabitable.
  • Damaged foundation: Without the correct handling, the damage could spread to the building’s foundation. Flooding even causes water damage inside walls. If severe enough, an impaired foundation makes the architecture unhabitable.
  • Lost insurance claims: Let’s say you don’t take the proper measures to address water damage, either because you didn’t notice them or didn’t know how. You might lose your right to insurance filings if they deem your actions as negligence. 
  • Lost revenue: If severe enough, properties might close due to building restorations. The closures could last a few weeks or even months. During this time, companies could lose a large portion of earnings while potentially paying for repairs.

How Does Commercial Water Damage Happen?

Many factors can cause commercial water damage. Because of the variety of commercial buildings — from skyscraper office buildings to single-tenant restaurants — leaks can occur in many areas. Recognizing potential water leaks is essential for water damage prevention.

These are some frequent causes:

  • Broken pipes: Pipe issues are the most common reason for floods and leaks. Pipes could freeze, leak or burst due to air pressure or temperature changes. When a pipe bursts, water quickly propels its way through the building. Sometimes, the broken pipe is difficult to identify, allowing more time for damages.
  • Leaks in sprinkler systems: Faulty sprinklers create leaks and drips. Over long periods, these small drips lead to severe damage if not noticed. Or, after using the sprinklers, puddles of standing water develop on floors. These waters can soil ceilings and lead to the progression of gray water.
  • Roof leaks: While roofs appear solid, they are not impermeable. Excess rainfall can wear down materials and cause indoor roof leaks, which leads to mold formation. Heavy wind can also impair roofs and allow water to enter the property.
  • Damaged HVAC: Your heating and cooling system needs to function correctly for the safety of patrons and employees. But sometimes, impairments go unnoticed and lead to water leakage.
  • Flooding due to natural disasters: Many buildings are subject to water damage and flooding after catastrophic weather events. Depending on the event’s severity, commercial properties might sustain extreme damage.

The worst water impairments occur when restoration efforts aren’t performed correctly. Noticing signs of damage, like water stains, standing puddles and musty smells, are crucial for preventing further harm.

7 Steps to Take After Heavy Water Damage

Once flooding or water impairments occur, you must take swift action to avoid as many long-term damages as possible. The sooner you act, the sooner you protect your commercial property.

These are seven essential steps to take after heavy water damage:

1. Find the Source

If the damage’s cause isn’t immediately apparent, you should uncover the leakage’s source. Look closely at walls and ceilings for water stains. Check pipes and other plumbing to ensure the water didn’t originate there. You should also examine any holes in your walls, ceilings or roof for water drips. If you can’t find the origin on your own, ask a local plumber for help.

Once you find the source or if the leak is severe, it’s best to shut off the main water. If a pipe or other water structure is housing the leak, turning off the main source will stop further dripping.

2. Contact Your Insurance

Once you identify the water’s origin, it’s crucial to contact your insurance provider as soon as you can. While insurance coverage varies, it’s best to contact insurance providers to start the process. Commercial flood insurance and business income insurance are great options for commercial properties. Insurers can also connect you with restoration services.

Be sure to document any property damages with photos or detailed notes. Keep a record of items or infrastructure that appear unsalvageable. Prepare answers to any potential questions, like the extent of the damage or moisture levels.

3. Protect Yourself

When dealing with floodwater, it’s crucial to wear protective gear and proceed with caution. If you must enter the flooded building, take care to do so with caution. Floodwater is often full of contaminants and potential toxins, so you should avoid extended contact when entering the flooded area. Wear an N-95 mask and thick boots if possible. Turn off the electricity when entering rooms with standing water. In addition, don’t use any electrical appliances on wet carpets or surfaces.

4. Begin Cleanup Immediately

In excess water situations, it’s critical to act quickly. The longer you wait to address the water damage, the further the negative effects could spread. First, you should get your property checked for hazardous conditions. Once professionals declare the property safe, you should begin the clean-up process within 24 to 48 hours. 

You might also want to contact cleaning companies to ensure the most thorough cleanse possible, especially in the event of mold. It’s a time-consuming and difficult task to clean areas damaged by water, so the more help you get, the better.

5. Dry Everything

After you clean the property, you should dry and dehumidify the affected areas of the property with the help of a restoration service. They can evaluate the extent of the water damage and advise you on the best steps for your property. They can also note the best air circulation methods for your materials.

During the drying process, remove furniture and other contents to dry in other locations. If weather permits, natural sunlight is a great absorbent of moisture. Use high-powered air movers to drywalls and ceilings as quickly as possible. Water restoration specialists can further assist with this if you wonder how to dry out walls after water damage.

However, while some things are dryable, you will need to dispose of others. You cannot fully disinfect porous or easily absorbent materials, such as carpet. Instead, get rid of the wet items and plan to replace them. On the other hand, harder surfaces can usually be wiped and salvaged.

6. Identify Places of Potential Mold Growth

Mold forms easily in standing water, often within only 24 hours. Be on the lookout for signs of mold growth on walls, floors and ceilings. Look specifically by the source of the leak for more growth, and use cleaners like bleach and soap for small amounts of mold. Never touch mold with your bare hands or without protective equipment.

In most cases, though, mold removal requires the help of professionals. If you see mold growth larger than a few feet, get in touch with removal specialists. There are many safety precautions to take when extracting mold, so it’s safer to leave it with the professionals. They can also identify early mold development where you might not recognize it, saving you from further harm in the long run.

7. Decide What Needs to Be Repaired

Once you clean, dry and inspect your property, you can begin reparations. An inspector should provide a report on all the damages and possible repairs and you can work with your property contractor to plan the next steps. Leaks should probably come first on your list so that you can prevent future water damage. Depending on what your plan covers, you can also consult your insurer about replacement options.

After water damage occurs, you should plan for future flooding. Especially if your commercial property resides in a high-risk area, flood protections are beneficial. Consider using a flood barrier or elevation tools to flood-proof your property.

Protect Your Business From Water Damage

Due to the severe dangers of water damage, it’s always a good idea to protect your property from flooding. By taking extra efforts, you can work against potential future damages. Here are more water damage restoration tips for protecting your commercial property: 

  1. Fill potential cracks and gaps in your exterior: These holes allow cold air to enter your building, which leads to moisture formation. Or, exposed pipes might freeze and then potentially burst. Try caulk or weather strips to seal the cracks and prevent these damages.
  2. Update your insulation: Checking your building’s insulation is always a good practice, especially when you anticipate water damages. In particular, ensure proper insulation of your pipes. A good starting point is to wrap your pipes with insulation. Then, contact professionals for more extensive treatment.
  3. Clean your roof: Build-up on your roof leads to possible structural damages. Snow, ice or rain can cause water damage by leaking into your building. Be sure to clean off the roof periodically, especially during winter. If you don’t already know your roof’s weight capacity, remember it so that you can prevent decay.
  4. Protect valuables: When documents encounter water, they often become unsalvageable. Make sure to keep important paperwork and money in a waterproof container. Place the container where you could quickly grab it in case of a flooding emergency.
  5. Try a flood barrier: If you live in a water-prone area, you might want to think about physical flood protectors. Taking these extra precautions will add another layer of safety for your property.
  6. Invest in more insurance: Most businesses have commercial property insurance, but consider getting flood insurance as well. Flood insurance plans cover many of the damages from floodwater, helping with financial concerns after a crisis.

Hire a Restoration Team

To ensure the most comprehensive clean-up for your estate, consider working with a team of professionals. These specialized teams ensure to take all necessary measures for the safety of your property and staff. They can also advise you about the best next steps for reparations or sometimes even assist with repairs.

Here are a few more reasons to consider a restoration team:

  • They remove harmful mold and toxins: As mentioned previously, mold and floodwater are serious dangers to both your property and your employees’ safety. If you attempt to remove these yourself, you might expose yourself to dangerous bacteria or diseases. Specialists use a comprehensive removal process for mold extraction that prevents it from returning. If you’re concerned about how to prevent mold after a flood, professionals can help with the obstruction. The mold and floodwater removal process requires specialized care best left for professionals.
  • They keep the crisis from worsening: Even if you follow all the above steps after water damage occurs, you might miss something crucial. Forgotten spots of mold or small puddles of standing water might lead to building decay. A quick clean-up might allow you to start operations faster, but you face the risk of later closures. And anything you miss could lead to perilous health emergencies or possible property deterioration. By enlisting the help of a restoration company, you can feel safe with the knowledge of a rigorous investigation.

Contact Unlimited Restoration for Help With Commercial Water Damage

At Unlimited Restoration, we know the necessity of swift water damage restoration. Our quick and thorough restoration services allow you to resume business with a secure mindset after a water crisis. We understand the frustration and uncertainty that accompanies water damage to your commercial property. Our dedicated team of professionals, trained in world-class health and safety protocol, works hard to bring your property back to its best shape.

Contact Unlimited Restoration today for more information about our water removal services. We look forward to hearing from you and helping you revive your commercial property!


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