Water Damage You Should and Should Not Repair Yourself

Water damage is often an expensive issue for homeowners. Serious events, such as floods or hurricanes, can affect the structure of your home, and even leaks can create widespread damage.

As well as repairing the affected areas, you may have to face the deeper problems of water seepage and mold growth. When trying to fix these issues, you may be able to perform some of the smaller tasks yourself, while larger projects require finding a plumber or another professional.

Some smaller maintenance projects can be easy, even if you have not had much DIY experience. In these cases, you may need to research a few steps and ask for advice, but you should be able to still fix the problem. However, there are some water repair jobs too complicated to be taken on by amateurs. If you try to do them yourself, you could put your health and safety at risk. Without the right equipment and training, you might cause further damage to your home.

Drying and Cleaning

Drying the areas of your home damaged by water is the first step in the repair process, as this helps prevent any further water problems. Checking for mold and mildew is also important, since these could present a significant health risk to you and your family. Whether you perform these tasks yourself largely depends on the severity of the damage. Serious damage may have resulted in extensive mold growth, which needs to be dealt with by a professional. A professional has the equipment required to thoroughly dry any moisture trapped in your home.

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For smaller damage, you can dry the area yourself. Cut out any moldy pieces of material you find, seal them in a bag and dispose of them. Take safety precautions and use antimicrobial cleaning products as needed, but be ready to call a professional if you need to.

Gas and Electrical Repairs

Water damage can affect the wiring of your home. Dealing with this type of damage yourself can be extremely dangerous and often requires a licensed and permitted electrician. The exact regulations vary depending on your state. The chance of injury, death or further damage by starting a fire is too great to risk by trying to repair the wiring yourself.

Additionally, severe water damage, perhaps resulting from a flood, could potentially result in a gas leak. It is vital to take precautions if you suspect there may be a gas leak in your home. In these cases, you must call a professional to fix the problem before attempting any other cleaning or repairs. Gas leaks are extremely serious and should be dealt with as soon as possible.

Replacing Drywall and Insulation

If there is a water-damaged piece of drywall in your home, it must be cut out and thrown away. The porous surface could allow mold to grow, and the area is at high risk for becoming stained. If you are certain you have removed all of the affected area and there is no risk of further damage, you can measure a new piece of drywall and patch the hole. This is a simple task depending on the size of the affected area, but you must take safety precautions when cutting.

Make sure to check any insulation behind the drywall for water damage. Depending on the type of insulation, you could either dry it or replace it:

  • Cellulose insulation must be thrown away and replaced.
  • Fiberglass insulation must be thrown away if soaked in dirty water. If soaked in clean water, remove and allow the wall to dry. This insulation remains damp for a long time but could potentially be placed back into the wall.
  • Foam board insulation can be cleaned with a hose, dried and placed back into the wall.

Roofing

Water damage can sometimes affect the roof of a home, perhaps causing further damage as the roof lets in additional water. This is best dealt with by a professional. While you may be able to place a patch over an obvious hole or breach, you must call a roofer to ensure the roof is completely repaired. There may be some structural issues the roofer will need to alter to prevent further damage.

Repairing Plaster

You can easily remove a water-damaged area of plaster by scraping it off. Replacing the plaster is simple if the water damage is not too extensive. You need to mix the plaster yourself and apply it to the gap in need of repair. This can be done in layers, and you need to sand the area after the job is done.

Replacing Flooring

While you may be able to clean a water-damaged floor yourself, replacing it entirely must be left to a professional. There are many different types of flooring, each susceptible to water damage in its own way, and each requiring specialized knowledge to fix. You may need to cut into the floor to remove the damaged section, which is difficult without the assistance of a professional. The lower level, or subfloor, may need to be replaced if it has sustained water damage.

Replacing Wood

Wood can be warped by water damage. It can also allow for the growth of mold and mildew. If there are damaged wooden areas of your home that are considered structural, such as the frame, you will need to call a professional.

You may be able to replace smaller pieces of flooring more easily depending on how extensive the water damage is. You need to cut out the damaged area and make sure everything is thoroughly clean beneath it. You will need to measuring the new wood and fit it into place carefully.

Repairing Siding

The external siding of your home may be damaged by seeping water from above, or by an ice dam. This damage is often internal, and typically requires the attention of a professional. This can be a dangerous task to attempt on your own.

Finishing Touches

Even if you require a contractor’s help with repairs, such as plastering and replacing drywall, you can still paint the walls yourself. You can find stain to match wooden floors or cabinets and apply it to new areas of wood. If any new fittings require caulking or grout, you can perform this task yourself.

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