With the western part of Washington and Oregon getting hit with yet another round of heavy rains, flooding is expected in many areas. While floods are the usual cause of water damage, sometimes it’s those small leaks that can cause major issues – like mold. And what’s worse, small and/or slow leaks often go undetected until there is a HUGE problem. Case in point: a restaurant remodel uncovered massive mold behind the walls.

One of the contractors we sometimes work with in water damage restoration shared these photos with us recently. They had been called in by the restaurant owner to do some repair work to a vinyl mural in the main entry area. But as the contractor stripped off the mural, what was underneath was something of a shock: lots of black mold BEHIND the mural.

Surface mold like this can occur when there is moisture trapped, which might have been the case. But how did the water get between the vinyl mural and the wall? Obviously the wall had to be taken out, and that revealed even more trouble.

The area inside the studs was still damp, and there was some standing water on the floor. And there was another type of mold – fuzzy white, some of which appeared to be fresh.

But where was the water coming from?

Roof leaks are often the culprit, so a team went up top on the building, but no leaks.Further investigation involved going around to the back side of the wall – the restaurant kitchen. And there the source of the water was found. There was a slop sink adjacent to the area show here, and the floor slanted just enough that water often pooled up at the edge of the wall. And since no sealant was used when the walls were constructed, that water was slowly seeping under the bottom of the wall and being wicked up by the wood and insulation. And that warm kitchen air was the perfect breeding ground for mold.

This particular situation is a good example of why whenever you spot standing water anywhere – or mold – getting to the source of the water and then making sure it’s repaired properly so it doesn’t happen again is crucial. Mold can be a health issue for many, causing severe respiratory issues in some. And if left alone, structural damage can occur. Here, the insulation needed to be removed, the entire area cleaned with mold and mildew remover, some of the studs replaced, and then a raised, sealed base to prevent water from infiltrating into the wall again.

As a biohazard remediation company, we’re well aware of the problems that can occur from something as simple as water. And we’re here to help in the greater Spokane and Seattle areas if you have issues with water damage.

The flood waters are receding in northwestern Washington state, but homes and businesses and farms in Whatcom and Skagit counties have been devastated by the historic levels of water overflowing rivers. It’s so severe that coverage has been on a national level. You’ve probably seen photos like this one shown here (courtesy of ABC News). But it may be that the worst is yet to come.

Photo credit: ABC News

Estimates are that in some communities as much of 85% of properties have been damaged. Reports of basements filled with wet mud having walls collapse are not unusual. And even if your property hasn’t had a lot of physical damage, those waters and mud bring with them a very different type of risk. Flood waters are usually contaminated with biohazards that can produce infections and contagious diseases, which is why we DO NOT recommend property owners handle cleanup themselves. It involves much more than just drying things out, cleaning up the mud and dirt, and repairing structures.

Flood Damage Cleanup Is Best Left to a Professional

You can’t identify many biohazards just from looking at dirty water or mud. (Mold is an exception, and it’s usually the most common thing to develop after a flood, but that does take time.) The areas affected by the recent flooding are in large part agricultural, meaning that water is likely contaminated with animal feces. Fecal matter poses a substantial health risk, and when cleanup is not done properly and with the right protective equipment, those doing the cleaning can actually become sick themselves.

Another reason? Lack of expertise. If you aren’t a trained biohazard remediation professional, you likely don’t even know what to look for or where potential problems might arise. And there may be hidden structural damage.

Finally, knowing what needs to happen even after things appear dry and clean is very important. Biohazard and flood damage remediation companies like ours know what to look for and how to make sure the property is restored, disinfected, and sanitized.

Don’t risk your health and safety attempting to clean up after this recent flood. We are here 24/7 to help you. Flood damage repair and restoration is one of our specialties. We can work with your insurance company as well. Our trained biohazard and water damage cleanup technicians have the experience and the equipment to get the job done right. Contact us today – we serve the greater Seattle area, including communities that have been affected like Bellingham, Sumas, Everson, and Mount Vernon.

Here in the Pacific Northwest, flooding and related water issues can often cause damage to homes and businesses. Water damage repair and property restoration is one of our very important services. And it involves much more than just getting things dried out and fixed. When not done properly, water can create a whole host of problems, including mold. And if the water was contaminated by any type of biohazard (such as from a sewer pipe leak), there are possible infectious organisms to deal with as well.

Step one is contacting your property insurance company immediately. And we highly suggest you take pictures to document what has occurred. We do have the experience to work with insurance adjusters on behalf of our clients. But we still suggest people take photos, both of the water and your property, paying particular attention to damaged areas.

What Water Damage Repair May Involve

This flooding river could be carrying multiple contaminants, including human or animal waste.

Of course, before you can begin to get your property restored after water damage has occurred, the source of the water needs to be identified and dealt with so no further problems result. For example, if a leaky roof has caused structural damage in your home, the first step is to get the roof repaired or replaced or further water leaks are going to happen.

Then once the water flow has stopped, the next step is to get things dried out. Often it’s hard to tell exactly how much damage has occurred until things begin to dry. A variety of methods may be employed, such as large fans and blowers, dehumidifiers, absorbing agents, etc. Getting the moisture removed is crucial to preventing any potential contamination from spreading.

But in conjunction with drying the water up, the type of water needs to be identified. Is it relatively clean water? For example, a broken water line in your home may result in drinkable water spewing out. Contaminants would be few, if any. But it’s far different if the water is what is classified as ‘grey’ – waste water. Grey water can include any type of cleansing agents (such as a dishwasher or washing machine or even a bathtub overflow).

And then there is what is known as ‘black water.’ Black water likely contains human or animal waste. Sources of black water might be from a sewer line to even an overflowing river. Cleanup from ordinary ‘pure’ water (rain water, condensation, household water pipes, etc.) rarely requires disinfection. But grey water may need it, and black water definitely does. So it’s very important to know what type of water you’re dealing with. When in doubt, the water should be tested. Even rain water – if it comes in from ground flooding – can be contaminated with whatever biohazards might be in the ground.

Property owners might think of tackling clean water damage repair and restoration themselves, but it’s often labor intensive and the services of a professional might be easier and more convenient. If waste or black water are involved, we definitely recommend hiring a professional biohazard cleanup company like ours.

Getting the water stopped and dried up as soon as possible is extremely important, both to preventing further structural damage as well as any potential health problems. Did you know that mold can develop in only 24 hours? That’s one reason why we move quickly to get water dried up.

But that’s only the beginning. In our upcoming post we’ll discuss what happens after all the water is gone.

MedTech Cleaners offers damage restoration and repair – from water and other sources – in the greater Spokane area, as well as other communities in Washington State, Oregon, and Idaho.

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