The Essential Guide to Water Damage Restoration

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The Essential Guide to Water Damage Restoration

Water damage poses a significant threat to facilities teams, building managers, homeowners, and business owners alike. Whether caused by natural disasters or man-made incidents, such as floods, burst pipes, or sewage backups, the effects of water damage can be severe and require immediate attention from certified IICRC (Institute of Inspection, Cleaning, and Restoration Certification) professionals to ensure safe living conditions.


When a water damage emergency occurs, such as an overflowing toilet or a leaky pipe, it can be a traumatic experience for those whose properties have been affected. These incidents can not only cause financial hardship but also take an emotional toll on those who are left to deal with the aftermath of the damage inflicted on their home or place of business. Understandably, many may feel uncertain about how to proceed in such situations. However, once all immediate safety risks have been addressed, it is essential to take prompt action by contacting a reputable emergency restoration company as the first step in restoring your property.


At Desa Contracting & Restoration, we understand the importance of taking swift and efficient action when it comes to emergency water damage restoration. Additionally, as a reputable and insured emergency restoration company based in Toronto with over 20 years of experience in the industry, we know that each water damage restoration and repair project is unique. Therefore, we have created the following essential guide to help homeowners better manage and prevent water damage emergencies on their properties. From minimizing damage to ensuring safe living conditions, our guide will help you every step of the way.

In this guide, we will provide you with information on emergency water damage restoration services in Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) to help you gain a better understanding of the following:

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It’s important to note that this essential guide on water damage restoration in Toronto and the GTA is a valuable resource to have on hand, as it covers the most common water damage scenarios, including those caused by natural and man-made disasters, as well as faulty appliances.

What is Water Damage Restoration?

Water damage restoration is a professional term used to refer to the steps taken to clean up and restore a property damaged by water to its original state. It is also known as water remediation, removal, extraction, mitigation, and flood cleanup.

Professional water damage restoration addresses all aspects of the damage, such as cleaning up after a flood, fixing a leaky roof, and dealing with any other water-related damage. This process encompasses various stages, from initial assessments all the way through completion. This can include tasks such as removing standing water, drying and dehumidifying affected areas, cleaning and sanitizing surfaces, and making necessary repairs. Despite its apparent simplicity, the process of restoring a property affected by water damage can be quite complex and can take several days to several weeks, depending on the size and severity of the damage. Therefore, prompt attention is crucial in preventing further issues, regardless of the extent of the damage.

At Desa Contracting & Restoration, we are dedicated to providing professional and efficient water damage restoration services for both commercial and residential properties in Toronto and the GTA. Our team of IICRC-certified experts is equipped to handle projects of any size and level of water damage, ranging from floods and sewage backups to burst pipe emergencies. We also specialize in repairing and renovating water-damaged areas, such as baseboards, walls, ceilings, specialty flooring, kitchens, decks, fences, bathrooms, and more. When you choose Desa Contracting & Restoration, you can trust that your property will be in capable hands. Our team has extensive experience in water extraction and damage restoration.

1.Water Damage Inspection:

After contacting an emergency restoration company, a team of professional restoration specialists will promptly arrive at the scene to perform an initial water damage inspection or water damage assessment to determine the water source, the level of water contamination, and the type of water damage.

The cause of water damage to one’s property is strongly correlated with the source of the water. However, even when the cause of water damage, such as a flood, is known, it can still be challenging to identify the exact source of the water. Once the source has been identified and stopped, the specialist will then determine the level of water contamination.

Determining the category of water contamination is an important step in the water damage restoration process, as it helps the specialist determine the appropriate decontamination methods to use. The next step in the inspection process is identifying the water damage class, which helps the specialist understand the severity and type of restoration needed. Furthermore, specialists can more easily determine the extent of drying and dehumidification needed later on by identifying the water damage class.

2.Standing Water Extraction

Depending on the extent and cause of the water damage to one’s property, the next step in the professional water damage restoration process is the efficient extraction of any standing water, also known as stagnant water. The water extraction process may involve using portable extractors to remove water from salvageable carpets; however, in some cases, the carpet may have to be removed and disposed of. Extractors include industrial vacuums and submersible pumps.

Once all standing water has been removed, portable wet and dry vacuums are used to extract any remaining surface water. Specialists may also use moisture meters or infrared thermal cameras to detect hidden pockets of saturation in walls or under floorboards. Despite vacuuming, there may still be residual surface water present.

3.Debris Removal

In many instances of water damage, certain building materials, such as drywall, carpeting, and padding, may need to be removed if they cannot be salvaged. This step is typically done before the drying process, as removing drywall to expose wall cavities and carpeting to expose sub-flooring can aid in a more efficient overall drying process. However, if no structural damage is determined, the restoration company can usually proceed directly to the drying process.

4.Dehumidify and Dry Affected Areas

After extracting the water and removing debris, the restoration team will strategically place air movers to aid in the drying process and position dehumidifiers to remove moisture from the air. With an effective drying plan in place, it is not unusual for the property to dry out within a few days, using heavy-duty fans and commercial-grade dehumidifiers to dry and dehumidify affected areas.

In addition to utilizing specialized equipment, the specialist may also open windows and doors to improve air flow. However, the drying and dehumidification process typically takes longer than water removal, especially if the water damage is classified as Class 3 or 4, which may require the removal of parts of walls and/or floors.

5.Sanitize and Clean All Surfaces

Once the affected area has been dried efficiently, the next step in the water damage restoration process is to sanitize and clean all surfaces. In cases of severe water damage, all surfaces must be thoroughly cleaned using an antimicrobial solution to prevent the growth of mold. Considering that, under the right conditions, mold or fungus can start to grow within as little as 24 hours after a water damage emergency. At which point, a professional restoration company may decide it’s important to apply antimicrobials to stop mold growth or eradicate existing mold spores, whether out of prudence or necessity.

The process of mold remediation requires specialized protective gear, such as N-95 masks, gloves, goggles, rubber boots, and disposable clothing or overalls, to be worn by the specialist. To ensure thorough sanitation, the specialist will use equipment such as a High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) vacuum, an air scrubber, and other types of negative air machines.

6.Repair & Restore Damage

The final phase of the water damage restoration process typically involves conducting thorough moisture testing to ensure that the affected areas have been fully dried, followed by the reconstruction and rebuilding of any structural elements that were removed during the restoration process. A comprehensive restoration company, such as Desa Contracting & Restoration, will provide support throughout the entire process, including the reconstruction phase. This may include the installation of electrical systems, plumbing, drywall, and other finishing materials. This ensures that your property is restored to its original condition and is fully functional once again.

Why Water Damage Restoration is Important?

Emergency restoration companies play a crucial role in helping those whose homes or properties have been affected by water damage, such as floods, sewage backups, or burst pipes. These companies work to minimize the damage and ensure safe living conditions for all. This is accomplished by restoring properties to their pre-disaster condition and providing physical, emotional, and financial relief for both property owners and building managers. Taking that into account, emergency restoration companies provide a timely and efficient solution that is instrumental in managing the aftermath of such events. They help individuals and communities recover by restoring the past and building the future.

Undervaluing the importance of water damage restoration can have severe consequences, not only by downplaying the skills, knowledge, and experience required for the job but also by risking the safety and well-being of occupants. Water damage can cause a range of structural issues such as collapsing walls, ceilings, and floors, as well as pose long-term health hazards from mold, bacteria, and pests. To that end, it is crucial to prioritize water restoration efforts in order to protect the residents, homeowners, and building managers of Toronto.

Water Damage Categories

The first step in addressing an issue is to understand what created it in the first place. Knowing the main sources of water damage might make it easier for experts in water damage restoration to find the source while assessing a property. Without knowing crucial details regarding the water damage, it is nearly impossible to begin the restoration process.

To better assist you in understanding the importance of identifying the water source when it comes to water damage restoration, the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning, and Restoration Certification (IICRC) created three categories of water damage. The various categories “refer to the extent of pollution found in the water, taking into consideration both its source and its quality when it touches contaminants present on site,” according to the IICRC’s categorization of water. Those categories include:

Category 1: Water Damage (Fresh Water)

The first category includes water sources that are considered clean, potable, and suitable for ingestion by humans. These sources could be broken supply lines, compromised sprinkler systems, rain, and meltwater. After a Category 1 water damage event, Desa Contracting & Restorations can salvage and dry building materials affected by Category 1 water damage, such as wet drywall, carpet, pad, hardwood flooring, etc.

Category 2: Water Damage (Grey Water)

The second category contains sources with a high concentration of biological and chemical residues. These may result in discomfort and illness. Examples of this type of water include toilet bowl overflows with urine, seepage from hydrostatic pressure (common in basements or slabs), broken aquariums, discharge or overflow from dishwashers or washing machines, seepage from punctured waste pipes, etc. After a category 2 water damage event, Desa Contracting & Restorations applies an anti-microbial spray and uses HEPA vacuuming to sanitize the affected materials.

Category 3: Water Damage (Black Water)

The last category of water damage includes intolerable, horrendously contaminated water that contains pathogenic and toxic agents. These sources may result in serious illness and health complications. Examples of this type of water include sewage, backflow from waste lines, seawater, rising water from rivers and lakes, and wind-driven rain from hurricanes and tropical storms. After a category 3 water damage event, Desa Contracting & Restorations uses an anti-microbial spray and HEPA vacuuming to sanitize the affected materials.

Major Causes of Water Damage

There are various potential causes of water damage. It can originate from both natural and man-made sources, in addition to external or internal sources of water. Water damage caused by external factors is often the result of floodwater infiltrating a property due to malfunctioning or damaged building structures. Meanwhile, interior water damage is typically caused by leaks and defects in appliances, fixtures, and systems within the home. No matter the origin of the water, it can cause significant damage and require costly repairs. That said, some of the major causes of water damage include:

Essential Signs of Water Damage

To effectively identify and address water damage, restoration specialists and property owners must not only be aware of common sources but also be able to recognize signs of water damage that may not be immediately obvious. This requires a trained eye and knowledge of where to look for potential issues, as well as an understanding of the potential consequences of undetected water damage. To help you better understand how to identify signs of water damage on your property, here is a list of some of the most common indicators:

​​Note: As soon as you notice any of these signs on your property, it is important to take action immediately in order to reduce the amount of damage and, consequently, the cost of repairs. Contact Desa Contracting & Restoration now for immediate water damage restoration services

Recognizing Water Damage Risks

When it comes to water damage restoration, it is important to understand the severity of the damage and how quickly it can affect your property. Within just 24 hours, mold can form, floors, walls, ceilings, and electrical systems can be damaged, and various structural issues can arise. Though water damage can be caused by various factors, the consequences are often the same. To better understand the potential risks to your property, we have compiled a list of the negative effects of water damage, including:

What to Do in a Water Damage Emergency

Being aware of the warning signs of water damage and knowing how to prevent it is crucial to limiting the extent of damage and ensuring the safety of those in the affected area. Timely action can help prevent secondary issues such as mold growth, structural damage, and deterioration of building materials. To do so, it’s essential to follow the proper procedures. The following steps should be taken if you suspect water damage on your property:

Step 1: Shut Off the Water & Electrical Supply

The initial step in the event of water damage is to shut off the main water supply. Failure to do so will only prolong the problem and cause further damage to your property. If you are unsure of the location of the shut-off valve, seek assistance from a professional plumber. Depending on the extent of flooding and leaks, it is also recommended to turn off the electricity. Water and electricity should not be mixed. To do this, locate the electrical panel and switch the main circuit breakers to the off position. If the electrical panel is located in an area that is unsafe to enter, it is recommended that you seek professional help.

Step 2: Assess Whether it is Safe to Remain on Site

Flooded water can present a number of safety risks, particularly if a natural calamity is to blame. In this case, it’s essential to exercise caution at all times. Provided that, water damage to one’s property may result in a breakdown in the property’s structural integrity. In dire circumstances, a structure can be in danger of crumbling. Therefore, the second crucial step in a water damage emergency is to ensure that the structure is secure.

Step 3: If Possible, Identify the Source of Water Damage

Identifying and addressing the source of the water damage is the third crucial step. That said, it is important to document the damage by taking pictures as soon as it is discovered and to also keep any pre-existing pictures of the affected area, if available. This will ensure your rights to insurance coverage, as proper documentation can greatly improve your chances of recovering your losses. Additionally, it may be beneficial to contact a reputable restoration company if the cause of the water damage is not easily identified.

Step 4: Document and Capture Pictures of the Water Damage

The fourth step in a water damage emergency is to document and capture images of the water damage and the source of the flooding. Provided that the pictures you take will be necessary when proving to your insurance company the cause of the damage and in establishing a claim. The more pictures you have, the stronger your case will be. Additionally, if you are able to gather images from both before and after the water damage to your property, you can further strengthen your case. That said, it’s essential to take pictures of the water damage and any other issues you observe, both inside and outside the building. Be sure to photograph any damaged areas, including floorboards, drainage vents, walls, and ceilings. If you are aware that a natural disaster is approaching, it may be beneficial to take pictures before evacuation.

Step 5: Report the Damage to Your Insurance Company

Once the water has stopped flowing, the next step is to contact your insurance provider to determine if you are covered for the water damage. The insurance company will typically arrange for an adjuster to come and assess the damage in order to determine your coverage. If you have flood insurance, it is important to start documenting the value of each damaged item. This will ensure that the adjuster does not miss anything during their visit. A reputable local water damage company, such as Desa Contracting & Restoration, can work with you and your insurance provider to ensure that all damage is properly documented and reported.

Step 6: Begin the Water Damage Restoration Process

It’s important to act quickly in the event of a water damage emergency to prevent further damage and potential health hazards. Starting cleanup within 24 hours of the damage occurring can reduce the risk of mold growth. However, the extent of the damage can often be overwhelming, and the water may contain harmful bacteria and toxins, making it unsafe to handle without proper protective gear. In these cases, it is best to contact a reputable water damage restoration company to handle the cleanup and restoration process efficiently and effectively. If you decide to do some of the cleanup on your own, make sure to wear appropriate safety gear and disinfect your hands afterwards. For further assistance in restoring your property after a water damage emergency, contact Desa Contracting & Restoration now.

Simple Steps to Protect Your Home From Water Damage

Now that you have a better understanding of how to address water damage to your property, let’s cover some simple steps to protect your home from potential water damage and its associated risks. Water damage can be a costly and devastating event for both property owners and building managers. However, with some preventative maintenance and attention to potential problem areas, you can protect your home from water damage and the associated headaches. With that in mind, here are some simple steps to take:

Water Damage Insurance Coverage

According to the Insurance Services Office (ISO), water damage is one of the most common types of insurance claims, with wind and hail damage being the first. However, it is important to note that not all water damage claims are treated equally by insurance companies. Factors such as the type of policy you have, the cause of the damage, the way in which water entered the home, and whether it occurred suddenly or over time will be considered when determining coverage. Additionally, insurance companies may also consider the availability of maintenance records for the property.

Furthermore, it is essential to understand the distinction between water damage and flood damage when it comes to insurance coverage. While standard insurance policies may cover water damage caused by unexpected events, such as leaks from appliances or burst pipes, flood damage caused by natural disasters, such as hurricanes, tsunamis, and heavy rains, is usually not covered. Additionally, some policies may only provide coverage for interior damage if it is a direct result of damage to the building, such as wind damage. It is important to review your policy and understand what types of damage are covered to ensure that you have the appropriate protection for your home.

That said, water damage can be a serious concern for homeowners, so it is important to understand what is covered under their insurance policy. While most insurance policies provide coverage for damage caused by leaks in walls and roofs, as well as ice buildup in the winter, there may be limitations. To that end, the type of insurance you have will determine the extent of coverage for a water-related claim. Comprehensive home insurance typically offers the most coverage, whereas basic or broad home insurance policies may offer less

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Frequently Asked Questions - FAQ

When water damage occurs, it can damage floors, walls, ceilings, heating systems, and electrical components. If not dealt with quickly, the repairs can be costly and time-consuming. Therefore, it is important to address water damage as soon as it is discovered, as delaying it will only exacerbate the problem and potentially damage the foundation of your property. To give you a better idea of the potential harm caused by water damage, we have provided a breakdown of the amount of damage that can occur over time below.

  • Immediately following water damage

Furniture that is exposed to water can quickly absorb the moisture and become swollen, resulting in damage to cabinets, upholstery, and area rugs. Additionally, water can penetrate walls, flooring, carpet, and personal belongings, causing irreparable damage to paper items such as photographs, books, and other paper-based possessions. It is important to address water damage as soon as possible to avoid further damage to these items.

  • 24 hours after water damage

24 hours after a water damage emergency, a range of damage can occur to your property, such as bulging and disintegration of drywall, blistering and bubbling of paint, swelling of baseboards and doors, and cracking and swelling of furniture. Furthermore, ink and dye from paper products, carpets, and upholstery can bleed, and wet under pads and carpets may emit unpleasant odors. These issues can lead to costly repairs and restoration efforts, so it is essential to address water damage promptly to prevent further damage.

  • 48 hours to 7 days following water damage

Within 48 hours to 7 days after water damage, mold and mildew can grow rapidly throughout the affected areas. The subfloor, framing, windows, and doors can also be damaged due to expansion and contraction. Additionally, metal surfaces may corrode, rust, and change color. Furniture can become misshapen and develop mold stains, while wood floors may warp and bend. Additionally, there is a high risk of serious sewage contamination.

  • One week after water damage

If left unaddressed, water damage can cause significant harm to your property one week after it occurs, such as mold growth and structural damage, including the risk of collapse, and the presence of harmful pollutants and bacteria. To that end, it is crucial to address water damage as soon as possible to minimize the damage and cost of repairs while also ensuring the safety and security of both the structure and its residents. Additionally, it is recommended to conduct regular home inspections to identify any hidden or potential water damage.

Neglecting water damage can lead to severe structural issues in your home, putting the integrity of the building at risk. This includes the foundation, walls, ceilings, and other components, which can result in collapse if left unaddressed. Water infiltration into the foundation can cause walls to shift and crack and ceilings to collapse due to the weight of the water. These long-term effects can be detrimental to both the home and the health of its occupants.

As previously discussed in this essential guide for Toronto property owners and building managers, stains on walls or ceilings can be a clear indication of water damage, which, if left unaddressed, can cause severe damage to your property. In fact, ignoring water damage to your walls can ultimately result in structural instability and even collapse. Therefore, it is essential to address water damage as soon as it is detected to prevent further damage and costly repairs. With that in mind, some of the other common signs of water damage to walls include warping, peeling paint, or peeling wallpaper. Drywall and sheetrock, which are more fragile when wet, may also crack or shatter. In the event of any of these indications, be sure to contact an emergency restoration company promptly to ensure the safety and wellbeing of your property and its residents.

In the event of water damage to your home or business in Toronto, there are a variety of reasons why your insurance company may deny your water-related claim. Considering that not all water damage claims are treated equally, as various factors are considered when determining coverage. For example, whether or not you will receive insurance coverage for water damage to your property is determined by the cause of the damage, the method by which the water entered the home, and the type of insurance coverage you have. Furthermore, property owners who neglect their property and experience water damage may have difficulty receiving their insurance claim.

That said, while comprehensive home insurance typically offers the most protection and coverage for property owners, basic or broad home insurance policies tend to provide less. Therefore, policyholders in Toronto should consider purchasing a separate flood insurance policy to receive substantial coverage in the event of a flood or water damage to their property. Furthermore, to maximize your chances of a successful claim, it is recommended that you seek professional guidance from an experienced public adjuster for insurance claims related to water damage emergencies.

The average cost of restoring a property affected by water damage is typically quite high, as it may require extensive rebuilding and repairs to effectively address the issue. That said, the cost of water damage restoration is determined by the extent of the damage and the work that needs to be done. For example, if only one room is affected, the cost may range from $2,000 to $4,000 for replacing damaged flooring and baseboards. However, if there is damage to walls and ceilings or if entire rooms need to be replaced, the cost will be higher, ranging anywhere from $4,000 to $8,000 or more. Additionally, if large amounts of water need to be removed before repairs can begin, the cost may be even higher. With that in mind, to get an accurate account of costs, be sure to speak with a professional emergency restoration company, such as Desa Contracting & Restoration, prior to beginning the restoration process in order to avoid any surprises when it comes time to pay.

When it comes to water damage restoration, it is not uncommon for one’s personal belongings to have to be temporarily removed from the affected area before the restoration process can begin. This service, referred to as a “pack out,” is typically covered under the personal property section of a homeowner’s insurance policy. Before being returned to their original location, items removed during a pack out must be thoroughly dried, cleaned, and properly restored or repaired.

A Certificate of Completion (COC) is a document that verifies that repairs have been completed by a professional emergency restoration company and that the work meets industry standards. This certificate is usually required for insurance claims and should include all relevant information about the work performed, such as:

1) The contractor’s name, address, and contact information,

2) The date the repairs were completed,

3) and a list of materials used.

That said, the certificate should be provided in letter format, and some clients may require it to be on an official-looking certificate or template. It is important to note that a Certificate of Completion (COC) not only demonstrates that the work has been done to industry standards and regulations but also ensures that it meets these standards to avoid future inspection issues.

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