Water damage is a problem that can strike any home. Whether it stems from a broken water pipe, a leak from plumbing or a flood caused by heavy rain or another natural disaster, it can wreak havoc on your home and belongings. A situation of water damage requires fast action so that you can salvage as much of your possessions as possible and minimize the damage overall. There are certain initial steps you should take to recover from water damage.

Electrical Safety First and Foremost

The very first thing you should deal with when you have water damage is electrical safety. Water reaching electrical outlets or wiring can lead to electrocution or a fire. Immediately shut off the circuit breakers that supply power to any outlets and wiring near a leak or flood. If multiple rooms have water damage, you will have to shut down the entire circuit panel. If the water damage is extensive enough that you have standing water throughout your home, you should immediately contact your utility company or a licensed electrician to take care of shutting off your electricity.

Stop the Source and Dry Affected Areas

If you know where the water is coming from, go directly to the source and stop it. If it’s coming from plumbing from within your home, locate the shut-off valve and turn it off. If the water comes from a natural event like a heavy rainstorm, you can mop and use a wet vac to eliminate the water. It is also a good idea to use a dehumidifier and fans — kept elevated — to dry out the area with the water damage. Drying all areas, including the walls, is essential because it can stop the development of mold and mildew, which can adversely affect your health and that of your family members.

Disinfect the Property

If the source of the water damage in your home is a sewage leak or flood, then it is contaminated, which means you need to immediately tackle it. Contaminated water can permanently damage the structure of the house, your belongings and furniture. In this situation, it’s important to contact a professional water damage restoration company to come to your home to thoroughly clean and disinfect your home.

Furnishings and Carpets

Unfortunately, if there is extensive water damage, some of your furniture and carpets may be beyond salvation. Any carpets and rugs that are fully flooded may have to be thrown away. If the damage is not that extensive, you can hose them off and spread them outdoors to dry out in the sun. Soiled rugs and carpets may be professionally cleaned, but in some cases, it might be worth replacing them. Furniture with upholstery may need new stuffing.

Document the Damage

Water damage is a serious enough problem that you will want to report it to your homeowners insurance company. As a result, you must document the extent so that you have proof to show the insurance adjuster. Take pictures and videos using your smartphone and make an inventory list so that you can get an estimate on the value of the damage.

These are vital first steps to take after you have been stricken by a situation of water damage. It’s also important to remember that fast action is crucial. The sooner you tackle water damage, the easier it is to restore your property.

Charlie Teschner started MESA Plumbing, Heating, and Cooling in 1982. Charlie has a journeyman and master plumber’s license. He was raised with a strong work ethic and he now applies those values to tasks such as Longmont, CO heating repair.