Flooding can be a very stressful, messy situation. Not only is it time-consuming to clean up, but you may not know where to begin. Determining what, if anything, can be saved is a daunting task and it depends on the type of furniture you have and the magnitude of flooding. Because they are less porous, solid wood furniture has a better chance of being salvaged than upholstered or particle board furniture. Although water damage restoration is better left to professionals, here are some things to consider.
Inspection and Assessment
Before attempting to salvage anything, you should first get an idea of what needs to be done. Taking plenty of photos and documenting the damage will be useful when you contact the insurance company. This should be done as soon as it’s safe to enter the premises. Any furniture that cannot be repaired should be separated immediately and the salvageable pieces should be moved to a dry area if possible. One of the dangers after water damage is mold, bacteria, and other contaminants, which can begin to form within 24-48 hours. While you may need to keep any non-salvageable pieces for your insurance claim, moving them out of the way, sooner rather than later, is important to reducing the risk of mold starting.
What Kind of Water Damaged Your Furniture?
As with any home water damage, you first have to identify the risk factors present in the water. By that we mean what level of pathogens are found in the water and what is the risk level that a disease could be contracted from coming into contact with that water? For a quick refresher on the categories of water damage:
Category 1 (clean water) – this is water typically from supply lines in your home’s plumbing system. In other words, water you could have drank before it leaked out. It doesn’t pose a threat to your health.
Category 2 (grey water) – grey water has some form of contaminants in it, whether it’s from chemicals or other biological agents. Think of things like a fish aquarium overflowing or breaking, or a water heater leaking or even a washing machine overflowing. It’s not going to kill you, but it wouldn’t be safe to get this water in your eyes or to ingest it.
Category 3 (black water) – It can be raw sewage or flood water from a nearby river. This type of the water can make you sick and contact with it should be avoided. In fact, you shouldn’t even breathe the air around the water.
The type of water plays a big role in determining what path must be taken to clean your damaged furniture. You can’t effectively clean furniture that has been soaked by category 3 water. In rare instances it may make sense to try (think a really expensive Persian rug), but usually the costs of doing so far outweigh the cost of replacing the furniture. And that goes for any type of porous surface furniture. Whether it’s a love seat, sofa, or even wood table, it must be thrown out. When it comes to category 2 and 3 losses, there are methods that can be utilized to cost-effectively clean and dry most pieces of furniture.
Upholstered chairs or couches can be difficult to clean and dry. Usually, the pieces can be pressure treated using very high temperature water that kills any bacteria or other pathogens present. Once free from disease causing agents, the piece must be properly dried. It will typically be placed in a room where air movers and a dehumidifier can be set up. The air movers are placed strategically to pass dry air over and through the furniture. The moisture then evaporates into the air where an industrial-strength dehumidifier captures the moisture, where it can be released outside the home. In some special circumstances (like in the event the water has soaked the furniture for a long period of time), the upholstery may need to be removed entirely so that the cleaning, treating and drying process can get to those hard to reach places that were damaged.
Have you ever left a cold glass of water on a wood coffee table and minutes later noticed the water rings? That’s how quickly water can infiltrate wood and cause damage. So imagine that occurring on a much larger scale. Wood furniture can be tricky, to say the least. If the piece has set in the water for a few days or more, it may be ruined permanently and need to be thrown out. Another issue many times with water damaged wood furniture is that the glue/bindings holding many of the pieces together may become ruined. In that case, the pieces may be removed, cleaned & dried before putting them back on the piece. But overall, the piece will need to have its finish stripped, cleaned and bleached, dried out, then have the finish re-applied. It’s certainly a time and labor-intensive process. As is the case with any project like this, if you’re going through your insurance company, a cost analysis will need to be done to determine if it’s more cost-effective to simply replace the furniture piece instead of restoring the original piece.
Mattresses present the same problem as upholstered furniture – the fabric absorbs moisture and fosters the growth of mildew and bacteria. Given the health issues of mold and bacteria in a wet mattress, it’s recommended that it be discarded. However, if the mattress was exposed to water for only a short time and if the flood water was clean, it may be possible to salvage it. You can do so by cleaning the surface and putting the mattress out in the sun to thoroughly dry. Keep the wet side up to dry as quickly and completely as possible. Resting the mattress on blocks to keep it suspended above the ground will help facilitate drying. A fan can also help speed up the drying process. If you notice any musty odor, it is an indication of mildew. Mildewed mattresses must be handled by a professional in order to sanitize it properly. If the odor still persists after cleaning, the mattress should be discarded. Unfortunately, if your mattress or boxspring has been submerged or has been sitting in water for a long time, there is no option but to replace it. Mold growth is inevitable in a soggy mattress, and there is also the risk that the mattress has absorbed contaminants that are hazardous to your health.
If you ever begin to have doubts or don’t even want to try and clean up the mess on your own, call Xtreme Home Improvement. Our certified technicians have the training and expertise to do the job right. We can take care of your unexpected water damage situations and manage the entire cleanup and restoration process. Keep in mind that we’re available 24/7 and if you need a good plumber, we can handle that too.