What to Expect from the Water Damage Restoration Process

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So, you’re dealing with water damage, and you’re either looking for or have already hired a water damage restoration company. But what exactly are they going to do? How long will they be in your house? Can you still live your normal life while they’re doing the repairs?

All these questions and more are answered right here, by an actual professional water damage restoration company: Cleaner Guys! Read on to learn what to expect from the water damage restoration process.

Table of Contents


    Frequently Asked Questions

    Can I Keep Living In My House While Water Damage is Being Repaired?

    Most of the time, the answer is yes! In our 20+ years of experience at Cleaner Guys, water damage most commonly occurs in bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry rooms. In many cases, the room is damaged enough that use of the area must be suspended during the water damage restoration process. This can be inconvenient, since the homeowner may need to temporarily use a laundromat or a different bathroom. However, in these cases, the homeowner can still live in their house during the repairs. They just might not have use of the damaged room.

    In a minority of cases, the water damage is caught soon enough that it does not cause major damage, and the damaged room can still be used as necessary during repairs. If your water damage is minimal, you may be able to live normally in your home, even during the restoration work.

    However, in the more catastrophic water damage cases we’ve dealt with, when the water permeates many rooms, the homeowners must temporarily relocate while a major part of the house is being restored.

    Ultimately, no one can know whether they’ll be able to stay in their home during water damage restoration until a professional restoration company assesses the damage and tells them whether they will be able to stay or not.

    How Long Does the Water Damage Restoration Process Take?

    How long water damage restoration takes is entirely dependent on the extent of the damage. We’ve had restoration jobs where the damage was very minimal, and the entire job was done within a week. Yet we’ve had many other jobs where the water damage affects several rooms and even multiple floors in the home. Restoring more extensive damage like this can take many months.

    Another factor affecting how long restoration takes is how long the water damage has been going on. In some cases, a pipe may have been leaking for weeks or even months, and even if the water damage is only visible on one wall, the mold that has grown inside the walls and floors may be extensive.

    What are They Going to Do?

    The basic outline of most water damage restoration is simple: remove the damaged materials as necessary, dry out the area that got wet, and then replace the materials that were removed with new materials.

    However, for those who want a more thorough step-by-step walkthrough of exactly what to expect, we’ve laid out a complete breakdown below. Not every water damage job is the same, and not every water damage restoration company has the same process. However, these are the basic necessary steps, based on Cleaner Guys’ process.


    Photo from an actual Cleaner Guys water damage job site inspection.

    Step 1: The First Visit (or Two)

    The very first thing that will happen when you call a water damage restoration company is an initial inspection. An estimator from the company will come out to your property, assess the damage, and use measurements to estimate how long it will take them to restore your damage and about how much it will cost.

    The first visit will also usually include some paperwork, such as signing a waiver allowing the company permission to work on your home. Insurance will also usually be discussed, if applicable. A good restoration company will also take lots of photos of the damage on the first visit, for documentation and before-and-afters.

    Sometimes, work will also start on the first visit. This may include extracting any standing water with wet vacuums, containing the damaged area with plastic sheeting and protective mats, and taking samples of the damaged materials, to test for asbestos and other potentially dangerous substances. However, in some cases, this work will be started on the second visit.


    Photo from a real Cleaner Guys water damage job site.

    Step 2: Removal of Damaged Materials

    Once the damaged area has been contained and any standing water has been removed, the next stage of the water damage restoration process is to remove all the water-damaged materials. This usually starts with removing all contents like furniture and personal items from the area and storing them safely. Then all the damaged materials are removed, usually including drywall, flooring, carpet, trim, cabinetry, and tile, as applicable. This process can take anywhere from a few hours to several days, depending on the scope of the damage.

    Once all water-damaged materials are removed, the damaged area is cleaned thoroughly and prepped for the drying stage.

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    A photo of our structural drying equipment at a real Cleaner Guys job site.

    Step 3: Drying Out Everything

    Once all damaged materials are removed and the area is cleaned, commercial-grade high-powered drying equipment is set up to thoroughly dry out the affected area. This equipment must be left on and in the contained area as long as necessary, until the water-damaged area is thoroughly dried out, and no moisture remains. This step can also take anywhere from hours to days, depending on the size of the water-affected area.

    You must not turn off or move the structural drying equipment. Only your restoration company should touch, adjust, move, remove, or turn off the equipment.

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    Before and after photos of an actual Cleaner Guys job site.

    Step 4: Full Restoration and Cleaning

    Once all unsalvageable materials have been removed and the area is completely dry, restoration can begin. This stage includes replacing any removed drywall, flooring, tile, trim, cabinetry, etc. This is the stage at which you will consult with your restoration company about whether you want everything restored exactly as it was, or if you have the budget to upgrade any replacement materials. Many of our clients at Cleaner Guys choose to use their budget to turn their catastrophe into an opportunity to upgrade or remodel the damaged area with new, different materials.

    Typically, once specific materials are decided upon, the restoration company will take care of ordering all materials, and either picking them up locally or bringing them in once they’ve shipped and been delivered.

    How long it takes to fully restore a home depends entirely on the amount of materials being replaced, whether the materials must be shipped in, and how much man labor will be required to get the job done.

    Step 5: Job Completion and Billing

    Once restoration is complete, all equipment, tools, and material scraps will be removed, and any temporarily moved furniture will be put back. A good restoration company will do a final thorough cleaning of the entire space, and take final photo documentation.

    Different restoration companies do billing differently. You may receive your invoice through the mail or through email, typically within a week of job completion. If an insurance claim was filed, your insurance company will usually be CC’d on your invoice.

    More Resources

    Read this article to know if you chose a trustworthy restoration company. ➜

    Can water damage cause mold? How fast? Read this article next to find out. ➜

    Is water damage mitigation different than water damage restoration? Click here to learn the difference. ➜

    What happens if you touch mold? Learn about the 3 things you’re silently triggering here. ➜

    If You Need Water Damage Restoration in Western Washington State…

    If you find yourself in the unfortunate position of needing a professional water damage restoration company near Mount Vernon WA, consider Cleaner Guys as a high-quality, well-trusted option. We’re proud to boast award-winning customer service, honest pricing, and top-quality workmanship.

    Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. No part of this article is medical or legal advice, and may not be used as such. For all serious medical matters, consult your doctor. For all serious legal matters, consult your legal advisor. This article contains Cleaner Guys’ experience and opinions only.

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    This Post Has 4 Comments

    1. Afton Jackson

      Doing what we can to remove the affected materials after water damage could be important for sure. If we don’t do that, mold and other harmful species could fester and ruin our house at any moment, making it a massive health risk to stay here. I’ll go and ask for some help from a local water damage expert to manage things easier.

    2. Zachary Tomlinson

      I never knew that water damage restoration experts have the tools to restore a property after a flood. I can see how this can help my cousin who decided to live close to a river this year. I should talk to him about finding these restoration companies as a form of investment.


      i had a sewage overflow from bath tub, and two toilets. I had to go with a restoration company my insurance made me use! no option! it’s been three weeks to this date that mmy house flooded. i know the country can’t find workers these days so two very very young guys came at night, did more cleanup in basement instead of house. they left the bath tub shower curtain covered in sewage back into the horrific bath tub, left all floors wetter from spraying disenfectant, left sewage in tub, etc. then they left quickly with carpeted rooms SOAKED WITH INCHES OF WASTE WATER. THEy are FINALLY due out tomorrow for contents removal, awful to think of how many of my extremely antique breakables will be broken, kills me. i know they will send the youngest ppl they have on hand. big question… their website says nothing about pack-ins, yet they told me EVERY TINY ITEM WILLBE UNWRAPPED, UNBOXED. AND PLACED EXACTLY IN ITS ORIGINAL PLACE. WELL, MY SPACES ARE LAYERS UPON LAYERS OF TINY MEMENTOS AND ODDITIES, BUT VERY VALUABLE ONE-OF-A-KIND ITEMS FROM MY LIFE EXPERIENCES. They said they take pictures of every shelf so they know where to place each tiny item. SHOULD I EXPECT THEM TO KEEP THEIR WORD SINCE THEIR WEBSITE SAYS NOTHING ABOUT FULLY LOADED PACK-INS? I HAVE DEGENERATIVE spine disease and could never open boxes and put everything back. I’m in my retirement home for keeps. are these companies expected to bring back in and place every what not all over the house? or if I’m lucky and super nice, maybe they will keep their word? i can’t find any paperwork I signed! I think the 22 year old contents manager quickly had me sign, said she would explain later, and took with her!

      1. Melanie Ortegon

        Wow, that sounds like such a terrible experience! I’m so sorry you’re having to deal with that. You wouldn’t have gotten such an experience from Cleaner Guys. 🙁

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