Water damage within the home can be devastating. Carpets, upholstered furniture, flooring, ceilings and even wall finishes can all be wrecked by water, not to mention fittings and appliances. For this reason, dealing with water problems in the bathroom, kitchen, or anywhere else in the house can be quite traumatic.
But when you are faced with water problems in your home, you do need to know what to do, and how to deal with them.
Apart from flooding caused by excessive rain, the most likely source of water problems in the home is the bathroom and any area where there are taps and appliances that rely on water to operate (dish washers, washing machines and so on).
Common Causes of Water Problems in the Bathroom
While burst hot water heaters and leaking pipes do create quite nasty water problems in any bathroom (or kitchen), human error or stupidity probably rates Number 1!
People often say of boredom, “it’s like watching paint dry”. But it would be just as appropriate to say “it’s like watching a bath tub fill up”. Stop watching and the paint WILL dry. Stop watching and the tub WILL overflow. It seems to happen in seconds.
Do any of these scenarios ring true with you?
- Just after you turned on the water to the bath tub your phone rings. You answer the phone and spend the next 40 minutes chatting. Bathing is the furthest idea from your mind … until you see water is everywhere. It is even trickling through a light fitting in the ceiling of the room beneath your bathroom. Worse still, in the basement, water is pouring in a steady stream onto your newly fitted woolen carpet.
- Because you don’t have a separate laundry room, you have opted for a twin tub machine to wash your clothes in the main en suite bathroom. But the machine tub must be filled manually. The dogs start barking and you run downstairs to investigate. You don’t see anything at first, so you walk around the garden to make sure there isn’t an intruder attempting to gain access. As you re-enter the house, water is streaming down the passage.
- You are a fishy kind of person and have a right-royal, 240 gallon aquarium in your living room. It takes a while to fill, but you’ve perfected the procedure with a hose that is attached to a bathroom sink in your basement. You’ve been watching the tank fill for quite a while (like wet paint) when you decide to quickly check some work documents in your home office. When you realize there is still work to be done, you forget about your fishes, and get stuck in. The down-side is that within an hour your office is a potential paddling pool. If you’re lucky your fish have dived to the bottom of the “pond” and they have survived, in spite of the temperature being a little cooler than usual.
Or maybe your hot water cylinder burst! That is a specially messy, watery one… But in all these instances you’re going to have to take action, clean up, and make sure that nothing has been badly damaged.
How to Cope with Water Problems
In all instances, Step Number One is to turn off the water – at the mains if necessary – and do an immediate mop up. Your method of “mopping” will depend largely on the depth of the “flood”. If there’s not that much water, old towels are a good option, since they will soak up water quicker than an old-fashioned spaghetti-mop or even a more modern version with a squeegee-sponge. If it’s really deep (the water that is), you will need buckets or scoops of some kind to get rid of it as quickly as possible. Depending on the location of the flooded space, and the circumstances relating to the flooding, you might be able to siphon the water out of your house using a length of hose.
That will get rid of the water (or at least most of it), but your home will not be dry – by any means. Not immediately anyway. If you have fitted carpets, you can try drying these with fans (even if it means you have to hire industrial units), but you might needs to lift the carpeting. Worse still, water damage is such that you might have to scrap them altogether. Heaters can also be used to dry the wet, but you do need air movement as well.
When the mass of water is eventually sorted, you need to check where else it (the water) has gone. Remember that water has a natty way of spreading into cracks and crevices that you probably don’t even know exist. Check under and behind everything possible, and dry all surfaces as best as you can. If the water has made its way into electrical conduits you MUST switch off the power. In fact if the flood is major, it is wise to switch of the electricity as a precaution.
Water and electricity are a potentially lethal combination. In most cases the water will dry out, and there won’t be any damage to the electrical system, but this is not always the case. Rather be safe than sorry, and call in an electrician to check the system before you start using it again.
Let it Dry Out
Whatever the cause – or effect – at the end of the day, if you’ve had a flood in your home (irrespective of whether YOU are guilty or not) there is one thing that you do need to do: LET THE WATER DRY OUT. If you don’t do this, there are all kinds of problems you might be faced with, ranging from wet electrics to tiles that lift because the cement and grouting have begun to expand.
Another major factor to bear in mind is that wet areas will attract mold, and mold can be a serious health hazard.
So if you have flooded your home, or been the victim of some sort of flood, take every possible step to dry out and stay dry until every fiber of your home is dry too.