Water damage often doesn't give advance warning and, once it strikes, the clock is ticking. Rapid response by certified water damage professionals is vital to minimize damage as well as ensure the most rapid and successful recovery. Here's a sample timeline of events if proper professional treatment is delayed:
During the First 60 Minutes
Water rapidly spreads away from the point of origin, seeping under walls, penetrating ceilings into lower floors, and creating a saturated path of damage. Vulnerable items such as papers, books, photos, and artwork contacted by water may be already affected. Water entering electrical outlets or shorting extension cords may trip circuit breakers and shut power off.
After 24 Hours
Various materials affected by water begin to react as damage expands. Drywall absorbs water readily and begins to deform, but, if drying starts quickly, it can be saved. Laminated wood items in the house deteriorate as glues in the wood are dissolved by water. Fabrics in contact with water could bleed colors and may cause permanentl stains. HVAC ductwork may now be inundated. The pungent, musty odor associated with water damage becomes noticeable.
At 48 Hours
Standing water inside the house may start to become contaminated by microorganisms. Paint on wet surfaces may begin to blister and affected doors could swell and become difficult to open or close due to the elevated moisture and indoor humidity. Hardwood flooring starts swelling, and eventually, warping and buckling.
Several Days Later
Depending on the volume and type of water involved, the house may be no longer safe to occupy. Residents, in some cases, may need to temporarily relocate elsewhere. Mold contamination can start to spread and indoor air may become unhealthy to breathe without N-95 face masks. If things continue to progress, the house structure may become unstable as saturated drywall walls and ceilings may collapse without warning. Water-soaked wiring and junction boxes could present electrical hazards. In some cases, the extensive restoration now required means the cost and time frame of recovery are increasing substantially. The moral of the story is that seconds count in water damage mitigation.