What is Water Damage Restoration? The Ultimate Guide

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Whether you’re currently dealing with water damage or not, it’s always wise to expand your knowledge by asking, “What IS water damage restoration?”. And who better to give you a complete guide to it than a professional restoration company? Here at Cleaner Guys, water damage restoration is our bread and butter. We can answer all the questions you have about it. Read on to learn everything you need to know.

Table of Contents

What is the Meaning of Water Damage Restoration?

The definition of “restoration” in the Merriam-Webster dictionary is “A bringing back to a former position or condition”. Water damage restoration is about returning a home or business to its former condition after a water catastrophe.

Water catastrophes come in many shapes and forms: a burst pipe, overflowed toilet or sink, leaking plumbing, ruptured water heater, leaking water supply hose to a refrigerator or washing machine, or a natural disaster flood are the most common.

Just last week we here at Cleaner Guys got a call from a woman who was doing some renovating, and accidentally drilled through her wall and into a pipe on the other side! Water started spurting everywhere, and she called us while she was plugging the hole. This kind of thing happens all the time.

Restoration is what we would do to help that woman; it’s the process of removing all the water and returning the home to the way it was before.

Water Damage Restoration vs Water Damage Mitigation

Water damage mitigation and restoration are extremely similar, and nearly always go hand-in-hand when cleaning up a water catastrophe. However, they are still separate things, and here’s how they differ.

In short, mitigation is all the work it takes to stop the water, assess the damage, clean it up and dry it out, and remove damaged materials. Restoration is replacing everything brand new after mitigation.

Click here to get more details on the mitigation process, as opposed to the restoration process.

Water Damage Restoration vs Remediation

Restoration and remediation are easier to differentiate because they don’t usually have to do with the same things. In the home damage restoration world, “remediation” is containing and remedying pollutants and contaminants in an indoor environment. These contaminants are usually mold and mildew.

Restoration is about replacing damaged materials in a house with new materials. Remediation is about remedying molds and other contaminants through the use of chemical treatments and other techniques.

Some water damage restoration companies also specialize in mold remediation. Cleaner Guys is one of these companies! Not all companies do both, because it takes extra work, special training, special certification, and special equipment to do both restoration and remediation.

What is the Restoration Process?

The restoration process generally consists of 5 stages: removal of the water, drying out the damaged area, removal of unsalvageable materials, cleaning and sanitizing, and replacement of new materials.

There are of course more small things that happen in between. The very first thing that happens before removal of anything is a professional assessment of the damage, and an estimate of how much it’ll probably cost to fix it. Another small step is containment of the damaged area, which usually happens after water removal and before we set up all our drying equipment. Another step that we sometimes need to take is testing the damaged materials for asbestos, as this can be a danger to whoever removes it.

If you’d like more details on the steps of the restoration process, feel free to check out this article on the full restoration timeline.

Photo of Cleaner Guys water damage restoration technicians at work.

What Needs to be Replaced in Water Damage Restoration?

Many things usually need to be replaced after a water catastrophe. It all depends on where the water went. The flooring almost always needs to be replaced, or at least dried out. Water on the floor soaks up into the walls, so we usually need to replace walls as well. Cabinetry may also be replaced if the water damage is in the kitchen.

Contents like furniture may sometimes need to be replaced if they sat in the water too long, although usually that doesn’t happen, because most property owners are quick to pull their stuff out of any standing water or leaks. If the standing water is high enough, sometimes we even need to replace baseboard trim, door trim, and doors! The amount of stuff that will be replaced in your water damage is entirely case-specific.

How Long Does Water Damage Restoration Take?

Water damage restoration can take anywhere from days to months to completely restore, depending on the scope of the damage. A very small pipe leak, if cleaned up quickly, may take only days to fix! But if it’s a huge water catastrophe, it will take longer.

For example, here at Cleaner Guys, we once helped a family who had their entire house flood while they were out of state on vacation! Their water heater ruptured, and flooded the home from the inside out. THAT took many weeks for us to repair, because the floors were soaked with water. You can see it in the photo below, which is from our actual job site!

Cleaner Guys job site photo – flooded home repair

This water damage is serious. The flooring, the subfloor underneath it, and sometimes the framing may all get replaced. It also takes out drying equipment much longer to dry everything out.

In the photo below (also from an actual Cleaner Guys job site), you can see some of our heavy-duty mitigation drying equipment, and all the drywall that had to be cut away. In restoration terms, that 2-foot cut on the sheetrock is a “flood cut”. That’s how much drywall you have to cut away to find out how high the water soaked into it — like a paper towel! And it takes a while to put all of it back. That’s what a big water damage restoration job looks like.

Cleaner Guys water damage restoration - what is water damage restoration?
Photo from a Cleaner Guys job site – water damage restoration in action.

Water Damage Restoration Cost

The cost of water damage restoration varies very widely, depending on the scope of the damage. But generally, for most average-size water damage jobs, the price is anywhere between $1,000 and $10,000. An average-size water damage job requires some drywall, some flooring, some insulation, and more to be replaced, usually in 1-3 rooms.

When it comes to cost, we here at Cleaner Guys highly recommend getting quotes (or cost estimates) from several different restoration companies before hiring one. Not all restoration companies have the same cost, and some aren’t honest about their pricing. Cleaner Guys regularly takes over unfinished restoration jobs from other companies, and we find out that they were charging the poor folks far more than they needed to, just because they could!

Get quotes from several companies to make sure you aren’t duped. If you’re not sure how to scout out the most trustworthy restoration business you can, have a look at this article. It walks you through how to find and choose the right company for you, and make sure they’re trustworthy!

Why is Water Damage Restoration So Expensive?

Water damage restoration costs can be high because of all the different things needed to restore this unique kind of damage. You’re paying for the labor of the highly-trained craftsmen, who spent years getting good enough at this trade to be able to efficiently and completely restore your home from many unique kinds of damage.

You’re also paying for the highly-specialized commercial equipment it takes to mitigate damage like this. Your home can’t be completely and successfully restored without this specialized equipment.

Part of the cost is also the amount of time and gas it takes to drive our technicians and equipment out to you. At-home services or delivery of any kind is always more expensive — just like ordering a pizza to be delivered to your house is more expensive than driving to the store and getting it yourself.

These are the major factors of your water damage restoration cost that can make it add up. But unfortunately, since fixing water damage in a home is such a niche industry, it takes all the special equipment to do it right.

Read this article for more details on water damage restoration costs.

Can Water Damage Cause Mold?

Yes, water damage can definitely cause mold! However, you may not experience mold if the water damage is dried out and taken care of very quickly. But you have to act very fast to avoid mold!

Mold spores are always floating around in the air, just like dust. Once organic material — like sheetrock or wood — is soaked with moisture, it can take less than 48 hours for mold to take root in that moisture.

That’s why it’s smart to make sure to choose a restoration company that specializes in water damage restoration, AND mold remediation! That way, if there is mold, you don’t have to try to find another company to take care of it. Cleaner Guys is one of the handful of companies that does both water damage mitigation and mold removal. If you need either of those services in Western Washington State, look us up!

When to Call a Restoration Company

You should call a restoration company as soon as possible after you’ve discovered a water catastrophe on your property. The longer the water has to soak into your walls and floors, the more expensive the repairs will be. The chance of getting mold also rises astronomically after the first 48 hours.

water damage restoration, fire damage restoration, mold removal, Cleaner Guys
Cleaner Guys crew members in front of a Cleaner Guys water damage restoration vehicle.

Can I Fix Water Damage Myself? Restoration DIY Tips?

It is very unwise and unsafe to attempt to clean up and restore large-scale water damage by yourself. The average homeowner does not have the equipment, the training, or the proper sanitary chemicals to safely or effectively clean up water damage on their own. Please read this article for more on why DIY is not the way to go in this situation.

More Resources

If you’re worried your water damage might have caused mold, read this guide on how to be sure ➜

Want to know what happens if you or a loved one touches mold? Read this guide on what to do ➜

If you’d like to know some professional tips on how to prevent water damage from happening again, read this ➜

Water Damage Restoration in Western Washington State

If you live north of Seattle, consider Cleaner Guys a wise choice for your water damage restoration company! Cleaner Guys has risen to be one of the most popular and well-loved in the area. This is because of our award-winning customer service and our commitment to better prices than the other companies. It’s also because of our high standards for quality work and professionalism.

If you need water damage restoration in Mount Vernon WA, give us a call today at (360)757-4300!

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 3 Comments

  1. Alice Carroll

    Thanks for also talking about the expenses that I should be expecting when planning to get home water damage restoration services. I want to find a contractor for that because I’m thinking about finding a good way to make it easier have my basement renovated. It was flooded a few months back so there might be some lasting effects on its walls.

  2. Afton Jackson

    The mere possibility of mold growing around a water-damaged house sounds terrifying. My father had a pipe issue around his house lately, and I don’t think he can solve something like that and make the place healthy to live in again by himself. I’ll help him find a water damage restoration expert who can lend him a hand with what his house will need.

  3. Luke Smith

    I like that you mentioned how a lot of things usually need to be replaced after a water catastrophe. There was a bit of flooding in our property the other day and it left some water damage in our house. We need to take care of this immediately, so I’ll try to call a water damage restoration company.

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