What You Can (And Can't) Keep After Water Damage Occurs In Your Home

Whether you are dealing with the aftermath of a storm, sewage backup, or fire response, water damage in your home can leave total devastation. Water damage can penetrate deep into building materials, causing toxic mold and bacterial growth that will harm your family over time.

Sometimes, it's possible to completely remedy your water damage with thorough drying, dehumidifiers, and disinfectants. Though damage varies from case-to-case, there are a few things you can count on keeping and some things you must get rid of in order to get your life back in order.

What Can Stay

  • Wood Floors: It's often mistaken that wood floors penetrated by water are beyond repair. Wood flooring that has significant mold growth should always be replaced. But wood flooring that has sustained damage without mold growth can be repaired by drying both the planks and subflooring. Once your floor is completely dry, it can be sanded to remove cupping.
  • Carpeting: Carpeting can stay, as long as it can be completely disinfected, then dried with fans and dehumidifiers.
  • Some Upholstery: Upholstered fabrics that can be laundered can be kept, as well as soft surfaces that can be easily disinfected. If mold growth is visible though, the upholstered item should be trashed to eliminate contamination of other surfaces indoors.
  • Non-porous Items: Anything that is non-porous, including plastics, metals, and some composites, can be dried and disinfected.

What Must Go

  • Electronics: Electronics that have been submerged or subjected to moisture will not properly function, and they can even be dangerous to try to use after water damage.
  • Mold-Saturated Surfaces: Anything that has visible mold growth will have to be carefully quarantined and removed from your home. Since mold spores can be present and still invisible, hiring a professional to assess and treat your damage is advisable if your home has retained water damage beyond 48 hours.
  • Saturated Drywall: Drywall is difficult to dry, and it can be a breeding ground for mold after only minimal moisture penetration. If drywall has been saturated to where swelling is visible, consider it gone.
  • Sewage Contaminated Items: Anything that has been touched by septic overflow or sewage should be quarantined and removed from your home.

If you hire a professional water damage cleanup company, much of the guesswork can be eliminated. Professional crews have the equipment, understanding, and testing procedures that will tell you how much you can keep and what absolutely must be trashed.