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Dos and Don’ts: Water Damage to Residential Property

Things that you can do to minimize damage:

  • Stop the water flow if possible. If necessary hire a qualified person to assist you to make repairs. Keep any parts that are replaced for your insurance company inspection.
  • If safe to do so, turn off circuit breakers supplying electricity to wet areas and remove any small electrical devices from the affected areas.
  • Remove small furniture items to minimize furniture stains or rust and to speed up drying.
  • Place small wood blocks or aluminum foil under legs of furniture that cannot be moved.
  • Prop up wet furniture cushions for even drying.
  • Wipe down furniture that is wet with a dry cloth or towel.
  • Lift draperies off carpet, loop through a coat hanger, and place the hanger on the drapery rod.
  • Remove wet area rugs to a dry area.
  • Open furniture drawers, closet doors, and luggage to promote drying.
  • Move photos, paintings and art objects to a safe, dry location.
  • Remove books, shoes, paper goods, fabrics, potted plants or other items that may stain the carpet (check especially under beds and in closets for these items).
  • Remove damp books from shelves and spread out to dry.
  • Remove and secure breakables, moisture sensitive or high-value items.
  • Remove wet fabrics and dry them as soon as possible.
  • Hang furs and leather goods to dry separately at room temperature.
  • If damage occurs during a cool season, leave heat on; if in summer, use an air conditioner if possible (provided water has not entered the ducts).

Things that you should NOT do:

  • Do not enter rooms with standing water if the electricity is still on.
  • Do not use electrical appliances and outlets in wet areas.
  • Do not use an ordinary household or shop vacuum to remove water. It can cause damage to the vacuum or result in electrical shock to the user.
  • Do not attempt to clean up contaminated (sewer) water.
  • Do not turn on fans, heating or air conditioning units if water is sewage-related as they may spread the contamination.
  • Do not walk on wet surfaces any more than necessary in order to minimize safety hazards and to keep from spreading damage and possible contaminants.
  • Do not lift tacked down carpet without professional help (lifting the carpet incorrectly could promote shrinkage).
  • Do not place newspaper on wet surfaces since newspaper ink transfers easily.
  • Do not wait to call for professional help.