Woman fixing kitchen sink

It’s every homeowner’s worst nightmare. Something goes wrong, a pipe bursts, a water heater breaks, and now there’s water gushing into your home. You’re panicking, trying to figure out how to stop it, and salvage all your belongings.

What do you do in a situation like this?

Handling a water emergency is a matter of good preparation and having a solid plan. Read on to learn more about what to do when your home is being flooded and how to clean up after the water stops.

1. Arrange for Water Insurance

One great preventative measure you can take to handle water emergencies before they happen is to get water insurance. Even if you don’t live in a flood zone, flood insurance can be a good investment. Most flood insurance policies will cover things like broken water heaters and damage from burst pipes.

Talk to your home insurance agent about how much it is to add water damage coverage to your policy. It’s also a good idea to specify what sort of damage will be covered. Sometimes, flood insurance policies will only cover certain circumstances, such as if homes adjacent to yours are damaged.

2. Find Your Shutoff Valve Early

When you first move into a house, it’s a good idea to find your water shutoff valve. This will be in a box in the ground, often in your front or side yard. This valve shuts off all city water from your house, keeping whatever is broken from gushing an endless geyser of water into your home.

As soon as you discover the water emergency, grab a wrench or a shutoff tool, and go out to the shutoff valve. You’ll need to turn the valve clockwise to shut it off — remember, righty-tighty and lefty-loosey. Turn until the valve is completely shut, and then check to make sure no more water is coming into your house.

3. Turn Off the Power

The next thing you’ll need to do after the water is shut off is to shut down the power. Chances are some electrical systems have gotten wet, and you don’t want to run the risk of anyone getting electrocuted. If you have to go through the house to get to your electrical panel, take the route that has you wading through the least amount of water.

Go to your electrical breaker box and look for the main switch that controls the whole house. In most cases, this will be at the top left of your panel. Switch it into the off position and then double-check that no room in your house has electricity.

4. Get Things Dried Out Quickly

Once you have the water and power shut off, it’s time to start mopping up water. You’re going to want to get things dried out as quickly as possible to prevent mold and mildew growth. The less time items spend exposed to water, the more likely it is that you’ll be able to salvage them.

Start by mopping as much water up with towels as you can. Pull everything in the nearby area out of drawers and cabinets and off shelves and dry items individually. Bring in a large fan to help dry out your carpet and remove any extra moisture from wood or laminate.

5. Remove Potential Sources of Mold

With the water dried up, you’re going to need to start removing anything that may start growing mold. Mold and mildew can pose health hazards to your family, especially if anyone in your family has asthma or allergies. It’s important to act quickly before spore growth can set in.

If you can’t get your carpet completely dry within a few hours, it may need to be replaced. And chances are you’re going to need to pull out your sheetrock and insulation and replace them, as well. Both are susceptible to mold growth, and neither is easily dried out.

6. Call a Plumber

Once you’ve removed the threats of mold and mildew, it’ll be time to look into getting the original problem fixed. This may be as simple as repairing a section of pipe that burst or as complicated as replacing a water heater. In either case, it’s important to get an experienced plumber on the job.

Look for a plumber with a lot of experience who is licensed, insured, and bonded. You may want to look for a plumber who offers emergency services if your family doesn’t have anywhere else to stay while the problem is repaired.

7. Get Restoration Help

After the plumbing problem is fixed, you’re still going to be facing a lot of work restoring your house. Sheetrock and insulation will need to be replaced, and you may need to repaint the walls, so they match. You might have to replace flooring and baseboards, or even an entire ceiling and light fixtures.

It’s a good idea to hire restoration experts to help you with this process. They can have your house restored to its former beauty in no time, and they have experience making it look as though nothing ever happened. They can also help ferret out potential mold and mildew sources and get them decontaminated, so your house is safe and sound.

Learn How to Handle a Water Emergency

Few things feel more cataclysmic than having a water emergency in your home. But stopping water damage with these tips can help you manage these situations efficiently. Find your water shutoff as soon as you move into a new house and don’t delay getting things dried out and replaced.

If you’d like to work with the best restoration team in the Pacific Northwest, get in touch with us at PNW Restoration. We specialize in dealing with water damage, mold, and biohazards so you can have total peace of mind. Contact us today to start repairing the damage to your home.