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How much does it cost restore water damage?

Water may be a necessary part of life, but it can also do a tremendous amount of damage to your property if it gets into places it shouldn’t be. Whether through flooding due to a storm, a burst pipe, moisture trapped beneath walls or floors, gaps in a tile shower, foundation cracks, a leaking toilet, water damage after a fire, or a leaking roof, too much moisture left alone inside your home can lead to much bigger problems. If water isn’t cleaned up properly, and things dried out within the first 24 to 48 hours after the initial damage has been done, additional problems can begin to set in, including mold, mildew, and wood rot.

Not all water damage is equal; water from “clean” sources such as a pipe or rain is easier and less costly to clean up, while water from a backed up sewer pipe or a leak that’s only found after mold has grown is going to be more difficult and more costly to clean.

The average cost of simply drying out your property from a “clean” water leak with no further damage done or restoration needed is around $2,700, while the average cost of drying out your home and repairing the damage done to areas like drywall and carpeting is around $7,500. Costs continue to go up from here depending on the source of the water, how much water, and how great the damage.

Dangers of water damage

A leak or burst pipe may seem only inconvenient, but water can do a lot of damage to your home if not cleaned up in a timely way. In addition to the damage that prolonged contact with water may have on things like carpeting and drywall, water may also lead to:

  • Fire caused by contact with electrical outlets or sources.
  • The growth of mold or mildew on both hard and soft surfaces.
  • Softening and rotting of wood and other organic materials.
  • Stains caused by minerals or particles in the water seeping into porous materials such as stone or wood.
  • The spread of bacteria or disease in water from contaminated sources like sewers.
  • Odors caused by mold, mildew, and bacteria.

All of these issues are also considerably more costly to repair or remove from your home than simply the initial moisture. This is why it’s important to deal with water or leaks as soon as they are discovered, ideally within the first 24 to 48 hours to ensure that further issues don’t develop.

Determining factors in cleanup costs

While there are some basic costs per square foot in dealing with water or moisture issues in the home, there are several factors that can influence what your final costs will be. The first issue is the type of water. Clean water, or water that comes from a pipe or the rain, is the easiest to deal with and the least costly, with most problems costing around $3.75 per sq.ft. to dry out. Gray water, or water that has come from a dishwasher, washing machine, or other appliance that can contain chemicals, is more costly to deal with. The typical cost of gray water removal is around $4.50 per sq.ftBlack water, or water that has come from a contaminated source such as a backed up sewer pipe, is the the most costly to deal with at around $7 per sq.ft.

In addition to the type of water, the amount of damage that has occurred, and the types of materials in your home that were damaged will also impact the total cost. For example, if there’s no damage beyond moisture, then drying out your home will be fast and easy to do, costing the least. However, if you have damage to drywall, this will cost more to repair as the old drywall will need to be removed. Damage to plaster walls will cost even more, as these are more time consuming to repair or replace.

The size of the affected area and the location will also affect the cost of the clean. A small area of water, less than 100 square feet, in an easily reached location may cost as little as $230. However, a basement that is full of standing water or water more than an inch deep covering the entirety of the room will cost around $4,000 to clean up.

Initial steps

Dealing with water damage should always be left to the professionals. However, speed is of the essence if you want to help keep your total costs down. Therefore, it’s recommended that you follow these steps before they arrive to help deal with the damage:

  • Turn off the power to the affected area to prevent electrical fires.
  • Remove any throw rugs or moveable soft furnishings from the room.
  • Mop up or bail out as much water as you can without using any electrical appliances.
  • Move artwork, photographs, and decorative items to a safe place to dry.
  • Open up cabinets and doors to help facilitate drying.
  • Wipe down any walls or furnishings that have a small amount of moisture on them.
  • Hang draperies out dry.
  • Open any windows to help air out the area.

Process of restoration

Every situation dealing with water inside your home is going to be a little different, which may mean that the actual process of restoration may vary for your property as well. However, the general steps taken will likely resemble the following:

  • The restoration team will make a thorough examination of your home and the potential damage to create a plan
  • The water itself will be removed from your home using a combination of vacuums and powerful suction.
  • Next, your property will be dried out thoroughly with the use of dehumidifiers and fans.
  • Movable items may be removed to an offsite location for cleaning, including your furniture, drapes, throw rugs, and children’s toys. They will be thoroughly sanitized and deodorized before being returned.
  • Finally, your home will be sanitized and deodorized using a combination of fogging equipment, air scrubbers, and antimicrobial treatments.
  • If there was further damage done to your home such as wood rot, reconstruction will take place to restore the damaged areas.

Types of restoration

Beyond simply removing the water from your home, and dealing with the resulting moisture, you may need additional restoration as well. If the water has damaged your floors, walls, or other areas of the home, you may need to include these types of restoration in your estimate.

Restoration Cost
Replacing damaged drywall $200 for a 12×12 room or $1.40/sq.ft.
Repairing damaged plaster walls $100-$300 for a 4-foot area or $6.25 – $18.75/sq.ft.
Refinishing hardwood floors $3650 for 350 sq.ft. or $10.45/sq.ft.
Replacing carpets $1200 to $1400 in a 16×16 room or $4.70 – $5.50/sq.ft.
Repairing woodwork $70 an hour for carpentry work
Mold remediation $500 for a 10×10 room or $5.00/sq.ft.

How do companies charge?

Most companies begin charging on a square foot basis with three categories of costs depending on the type of water: clean, gray, or black.

Clean water removal and cleanup starts at $3.75 per sq.ftgray water at $4.50 per sq.ft. and black water at $7 per sq.ft.

After the initial cleaning and treating of your home, further costs are on a case by case basis, depending on the level of damage done, and the number of belongings that need to be repaired, cleaned, or replaced. It is not uncommon for further work to cost around $1,000 to $2,000 more than the initial sq.ft. estimate.

Repair vs. replacement

You may find depending on the level of damage done to your home that there are times when repairing something may be the recommended option, while at other times, replacement is warranted. This is largely due to the amount and level of damage or contamination, as well as how easy it is for something to be cleaned. For example, items that can be removed for cleaning are often restored as part of your total cleanup cost, such as drapes and furnishings, while things like drywall are often torn out and replaced entirely, which can add to your total costs by $200 per room. In some cases, materials such as carpeting and wood may begin to break down if left underwater for too long. Their state may require replacing if they aren’t dried out in a timely way, which can significantly increase your costs by up to $10,000 or more, which is why acting quickly is so important.

Enhancement and improvement costs

  • If the water levels have reached things like stored documents or filing cabinets, document drying may be necessary to salvage them. This is offered by some restoration companies, and costs are determined by the number of documents sent. Rates start around $50.
  • Depending on how long the water was in your home before being detected, you may need mold remediationservices after clean up at a rate of around $500 per room.
  • If your water damage was due to a leak, you may want to invest in a water or leak alarm for around $15, which can alert you to leaks before they have time to cause damage in the future.

Additional considerations and costs

  • Your insurance company may pay for the water damage, clean up and restoration. Check with your policy holder to be sure; in flood prone areas, additional flood insurance may be necessary to cover all contingencies.
  • If you find mold in your home after water has infiltrated, do not disturb it in any way, and seal up the area. Mold can become airborne when touched, spreading to other areas, and potentially causing health problems.
  • Always ask for a written, detailed estimate of the work to be performed before it’s begun so you know what will be taken care of, and can make arrangements for further restoration if necessary.
  • Make sure that the company you hire to deal with your water damage is certified with the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification.