How Long is the Drying Process for Water Damaged Homes?
Water damage is one of the most common forms of property damage because of the many ways it can occur. Regardless of the source of the water, all cases of water damage must be addressed immediately to prevent further damage from occurring.
Once water damage occurs, the water will begin spreading through porous furnishings and building materials including wood, drywall, insulation, carpeting, subflooring, and more. The more time the water has to spread, the deeper it will penetrate the affected materials and increase the risk of buckling, warping, and rotting which can lead to structural damage. There is also a major risk of mold growth in areas affected by water damage.
It is important to recognize water damage in your home and take action right away to start the drying process. Acting quickly can help slow the spread of the water, which will save you time and money on the restoration and drying process. When water damage occurs, it is natural to wonder how long the drying process will take. There is no straight answer as the drying time will depend on several factors including the source of the water and how far it has spread. On average, it takes about 5 days to dry a water damaged home, but the time can range from 12 hours to a couple of weeks.
In this guide, we will discuss the nature of water damage as well as how long it takes to dry a water damaged home. If your home is affected by water damage, make sure to call a professional for water mitigation right away.
Understanding Water Damage
The reason water damage is a common occurrence in homes is because there are many potential sources of water damage. Excess water and moisture can come from outside or within the home and quickly start spreading through the affected materials.
The following are the most common causes of water damage within homes:
- Damaged or burst pipes
- Leaking appliances including water heaters and dishwashers
- Clogged drains
- Excessive rain
- Natural disasters like storms and floods
- Humidity and condensation
- Plumbing leaks
- Roof and foundation leaks
- Problems with the sump pump
When dealing with water damage, it is important to remember that not all water damage is equal. Depending on the source of the water, the water in some cases may be clean while in other cases, the water may be dangerously contaminated. The look and source of the water can help you determine what type of water damage you have experienced.
The following are the three main categories of water damage determined by the cleanliness of the water:
- Category 1 – Clean Water Damage: Clean water damage involves water that is free of sewage and toxins. Clean water includes water from burst pipes, overflowing sinks and bathtubs, and appliances and materials affected by clean water can be dried rather easily.
- Category 2 – Grey Water Damage: Grey water damage involves water that may contain waste and chemicals that can be harmful to you and your property. Grey water may come from toilet overflows, washing machines, and sump pumps and it requires disinfection after the drying process.
- Category 3 – Black Water Damage: Black water damage is the most dangerous type of water damage as the water may contain contaminants that can cause serious health risks. Black water includes sewage, ground water, and flood water from outside the home that may contain sewage and debris. After removing category 3 water, the property will need thorough cleaning and disinfection to restore safe conditions.
No matter the amount of water or where it came from, an immediate response is necessary. All cases of water damage should be considered an emergency because the water will keep spreading and causing additional damage until the drying and restoration takes place.
The following are the potential consequences of untreated water damage:
- Warping and buckling of affected materials
- Stains and discoloration of walls and furnishings
- Mold growth and bacteria
- Structural damage
- Bubbling or sagging drywall
- Ceiling damage
- Corrosion of pipes
- Damage to wood floors and carpeting
- Damage to the electrical system
Reacting to water damage quickly can help prevent the consequences of untreated water damage and speed up the drying process.
Assessing the Extent of the Water Damage
Before the drying and water mitigation process can begin, it is important for water damage restoration professionals to accurately assess the extent of the damage and spread of the water. They will carefully inspect your property to identify the source of the water as well as the damaged areas and materials. They may also use moisture detection tools that can measure how deeply the water has been absorbed into the affected materials. This equipment can also detect hidden water damage such as behind walls.
Once the professionals understand the full extent of the damage, they can form an effective restoration and drying plan.
Steps in the Drying Process
Drying a home affected by water damage is a multi-step process and the time it takes to fully dry the home will depend on the extent of the damage, type of water damage, and the materials affected. Drying services from water damage restoration professionals generally include the following steps:
- Water extraction and removal: The first step is to remove all standing water and excess moisture. Professionals use advanced water extraction equipment that can remove standing flood water, leaving behind the wet materials that need to be dried.
- Dehumidification and moisture control: After the water is removed, the professionals will strategically set up dehumidification equipment and air movers to help dry wet materials like flooring and drywall and keep the overall moisture level under control.
- Structural drying techniques: Drying of the structural materials occurs when the dehumidifiers and air movers force the water from the affected materials into the air through evaporation.
- Ventilation and air circulation: The professionals will improve the circulation by opening doors and windows and setting up fans to help speed up the evaporation process and lower the moisture level.
- Monitoring progress and adjusting strategies: As the drying continues, the professionals will monitor the progress and make adjustments such as moving dehumidifiers if needed.
Factors Affecting Drying Time
The drying process takes 3-5 days on average but may take up to a couple of weeks in some cases. There are several factors that can affect how long it will take to dry a water damaged home, including the following:
- Severity of water damage: Cases involving flooding and standing water will take longer to dry than water damage caused by a leak simply because there is more water to remove. The deeper the water penetrates affected materials, the longer it will take to dry them.
- Affected materials and surfaces: Non-porous materials, or materials that do not absorb water such as glass, metal, and porcelain take less time to dry than porous materials like carpeting, drywall, and wood.
- Environmental conditions: Drying the home can be done faster when the moisture and humidity levels are kept under control. When the moisture level of the air is high, the water will not evaporate from wet materials during the drying process which will cause the drying to take more time.
- Response time and promptness of restoration efforts: Reacting immediately after water damage occurs and calling a professional will help limit the spread of the water, resulting in less drying time. The drying process may take longer for water damage that was not discovered as quickly.
Average Drying Times for Different Situations
As we have already discussed, it is difficult to tell exactly how long it will take to dry a water damaged home until a professional assesses the damage. However, you can get an idea of how long it may take depending on the level of damage.
For minor water damage, you can expect the drying process to take about 3-5 days. This includes cases in which the water is relatively contained and has not spread too deep into the surrounding materials. Significant water damage can take several weeks if the water has spread far and deep into the affected materials. This is why reacting quickly to water damage is so important as it can save you several days on the drying process.
The following are factors that can prolong the drying process:
- Hesitating to call a professional after discovering water damage
- Allowing the water to spread
- Humid conditions
- Heavily affected porous materials
- Failure to address the source of the moisture
Importance of Thorough Drying
When water damage occurs, it is very important to ensure that all affected areas and materials are dried thoroughly. If the water damaged areas and materials are not dried completely, it can lead to the following problems in the future:
- Mold growth: If there is any water or moisture left over, it will increase the risk of mold growth. Mold not only causes significant property damage, but it can also negatively affect your health.
- Secondary damage: Residual water and moisture will once again get absorbed into the surrounding porous materials which can cause additional property damage.
- Dangerous or unsanitary conditions: It is possible for water that is still around to create unsanitary conditions by contributing to mold or bacteria growth and causing musty odors.
- Long-term structural issues: Even if a little bit of water is left behind, the water will continue to seep into porous structural materials like wood and drywall which can lead to serious structural issues over time.
Water Damage FAQ
Will Water Damage Dry on Its Own?
Water damage can dry on its own within a few days or a few weeks depending on the amount of water involved. However, it is a bad idea to leave water damage to dry on its own because in the time it takes to dry, it will spread further and deeper into the surrounding building materials and furnishings and greatly increase the risk of mold growth.
Should I Let Water Damage Dry?
The short answer to this is no because even a little bit of spilled water will quickly start spreading through porous materials. In the time it takes for water damage to dry on its own, it can cause additional problems like structural damage and mold growth. No matter the amount of water, you should clean it up or call a professional for water damage restoration so there is no chance that the water will hang around and cause additional damage.
Does Water Damage Get Worse Over Time?
The longer you leave water damage unattended, the worse the damage will get. The water will keep spreading into porous materials like wood, drywall, carpeting, and various furnishings and these materials will weaken and deteriorate as they absorb more water. The risk of mold growth will also increase the longer water damage is not addressed and once the mold growth forms, it will keep spreading.
Addressing water damage right away will prevent more severe damage including structural damage and mold growth.
Call a Professional to Dry Your Home Following Water Damage
Whether your home is affected by a leak, flood, or burst pipe, the water damage needs to be addressed immediately. Water damage restoration professionals have the tools and equipment to stop the spread of the water and thoroughly dry the affected areas and materials. The faster you call a water mitigation expert to address the damage and dry your home, the faster the drying process will take.