The Difference Between Water Extraction and Water Mitigation
When water damage occurs, there is no time to waste. Whether it’s from a plumbing leak or natural disaster, excess water needs to be removed as soon as possible – the longer it remains in the property, the more problems arise. If left untreated, excessive moisture can compromise the integrity of the building, cause severe structural damage, and result in mold growth and toxin production. To prevent permanent loss of property and serious health hazards, you need to take quick and efficient measures to mitigate and restore the damage.
Water damage restoration is a complex process that involves several steps – water extraction, water mitigation, water damage repair, mold mitigation, etc. The first thing to do, however, is to remove all the water from the affected area to prevent it from spreading and causing further damage.
What Is Water Extraction?
Water extraction is the process of removing all standing water and excess moisture from the property. It not only helps prevent more severe structural damage, but also speeds up the drying process and minimizes the risk of mold growth and secondary water damage.
The first step is to remove standing water with the help of industrial strength wet/dry vacuums and powerful submersible pumps:
- Vacuums can be used to remove excess water from hardwood floors, carpets, and porous surfaces. They work by putting down a cleaning solution (to disinfect the affected area) and vacuuming up the moisture (the extracted water is held in a tank);
- Pumps can remove gallons of water at a time. They work by pumping up the water and taking it to the outside through a drain or an opening in the building. If the water level is high, a submersible pump is used to pump out the water continuously.
Other professional water removal equipment may also be used in the extraction process:
- Moisture detectors and hygrometers that measure the extent of moisture saturation;
- Infrared cameras that help find “hidden” water behind walls and ceilings;
- Truck-mounted and portable extraction units; etc.
Efficient water removal includes extracting water from wet surfaces that don’t have standing water as well – so that any water that is trapped in the cracks and grooves of the surface is completely removed.
Once all the water has been removed, the mitigation process can then begin.
What Is Water Mitigation?
By definition, mitigation is the process of reducing the loss of property due to disaster. Water mitigation, in particular, refers to the process of cleaning, sanitizing, and drying a property in order to minimize the amount of water damage that occurs after a pipe leak, sewage backup, flooding, or some other kind of disaster. In other words, water mitigation is the process of preventing further water damage by taking quick and appropriate actions, such as removal of unsalvageable contents, cleaning of the affected areas, application of disinfecting agents, and deodorizing and drying the structure.
The water mitigation process involves:
- Removing natural and manmade debris from the property
- Removing damaged furniture and building materials, including drywall and flooring
- Stabilizing the property and protecting the integrity of the building by boarding up windows, applying tarps, and taking other necessary precautions
- Cleaning and disinfecting salvageable contents
- Cleaning and disinfecting household materials and surfaces
- Drying out the home with commercial-grade equipment
Proper drying is of paramount importance as the affected area needs to be fully dry before repairs can begin. Depending on the type of water event, it may take from a few days to a few weeks for a property to dry completely. Skipping this step, however, or finishing it prematurely or inefficiently can compromise the structural integrity of the building.
All remaining moisture must be eliminated from the air and the structural materials for a successful water damage restoration. Water mitigation specialists use diagnostic tools, like moisture meters, to measure dampness levels and set up powerful equipment, like industrial dehumidifiers, air scrubbers, and air movers, to dry the property. Wood floor drying systems, sub-floor drying systems, and high-speed fans are also used to evaporate any leftover moisture and restore the correct humidity levels in the building so that floors, walls, and furnishings don’t rot, swell, or warp and mold-friendly environments are successfully eliminated. The professional drying equipment and air sanitizers must be left onsite at the property until temperature, humidity, and moisture testing confirms that the affected area has been fully dried and restored to a safe and healthy condition.
However efficient though, water damage mitigation services are meant to prevent further damage, not to repair or replace damaged property. Water damage restoration services are required for restoring the home or commercial building to its pre-loss condition.
What Does Water Damage Restoration Involve?
After the water mitigation process has ended, water damage restoration professionals focus on reconstructing and rebuilding the property (if needed) and fixing any subsequent issues related to the water damage (such as mold development). Typical water damage restoration services include:
- Replacing damaged flooring, drywall, and other building materials
- Repairing roof damage
- Eliminating mold
- Conducting humidity and moisture testing to ensure humidity levels in the property have returned to normal
Repairing the structural damage is the last stage of the restoration process – water damage restoration starts with water extraction, continues with water mitigation, and finishes with water damage repair. Even though these services can be performed separately, professional water damage restoration companies provide all of them to ensure the best possible results – water mitigation services are always performed first, followed by water mitigation and water restoration services, as needed.
If you ever face a water damage accident, whether it is basement flooding, sewage backup, or commercial water damage, be sure to call a reputable water restoration company without delay – the experienced professionals have the specialized equipment and expert know-how to restore your property in a quick and efficient manner, so you can get your life back on track as soon as possible after the disaster.