Factors Affecting Flood Cleanup Cost

Whenever a property has been damaged by excess water, it is an emergency that requires immediate attention.  The moisture will ruin porous surfaces and materials, and this damage will only get worse the longer it goes unaddressed.

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The problem becomes even more urgent if your home or building has been flooded and contains standing water because with more water comes deeper and more extensive property damage.  No matter what caused the flood damage, prompt action is necessary.

The amount of time you take to respond to the issue is essential for various reasons.  First, the longer you wait to respond to the flood damage, the more the water will spread and the worse the damage will become.  Excess water and flooding can quickly lead to warped flooring, damaged and weakened walls, and mold growth.  Furthermore, the damage that occurs while waiting to address the flooding will increase the cost of the flood cleanup for your damaged property.

Water damage restoration is a complex task as there is a lot that goes into the restoration.  The exact nature of the restoration, and the cost of the flood cleanup, depends on several factors concerning the water damage itself.

The following are the factors that affect the cost of professional flood cleanup.

How big is the area affected?

The first thing to consider is the size of the area affected by water damage.  Larger areas will require more water extraction and dehumidification as well as more materials and resources to repair and replace damaged materials.  Therefore, the larger the area affected; the more work will need to be done which will increase the overall cost.

How much water is there?

The amount of water involved is the next factor to consider.  This is not the same thing as the size of the affected area as an inch of flooding on an entire floor may be easier to clean up than an unnoticed leak that caused structural damage and mold growth.

However, the amount of water is an important factor because generally more water means more damage and a larger restoration effort.  For example, if a few feet of water have flooded one area of your home, then the damage is minimal compared to what 10 feet of standing water would cause in the same area.  More materials will have sustained damage and need restoration or even replacement, and more equipment will also be needed to thoroughly dry the area.  It is also important to remember that plumbing fixtures and appliances can leak hundreds of gallons of water into your home which can result in costly damage.


What type of floodwater is involved?

Not all floodwater is the same, and not all floodwater types are as damaging to your property as others.

There are three different categories of water, and they are determined by the level of hazard the water presents:

  • Category 1: Water in Category 1 is clean and from a sanitary source, such as a faucet or toilet tank. Melting snow is also considered Category 1.  This water is not contaminated so it is not dangerous for people or pets, but it does cause property damage.
  • Category 2: Water in Category 2 is used and contaminated, such as washing machine water, but does not contain sewage. This water can form bacteria if it is left alone which would make it Category 3 water.
  • Category 3: Water in Category 3 contains bacteria, chemicals, sewage, and other dangerous contaminants. This water most commonly comes from sewage, but natural flood water can also be considered Category 3 if it is contaminated with sewage, bacteria, or debris.  Building materials and personal belongings affected by Category 3 water are typically permanently damaged.

The higher the category of water involved in the flooding of your residential or commercial property, the more work will need to be done to restore the affected areas and materials.

Where is the water coming from?

It is important to determine where the excess water is coming from because this will help professionals decide what type of cleanup is needed.  If water is coming from a leak, there may be mold growth or structural damage involved.  Water coming from a sewage backup will require specialized restoration for Category 3 cleanup.

Is there still water present?

The presence of water will also affect the cost of the restoration as professionals will need to use specialized equipment to remove the water before they can start the drying and repair.  The amount of water still present and the area it covers will factor into the cost of the restoration.

How much time has passed since the initial flood damage?

water damage

Water damage of any kind is something that needs to be dealt with immediately because of how quickly the damage can worsen. When water damage is not addressed as soon as possible, the extra time that passes will just allow the water to spread and cause further damage. Because of this, the more time that has passed since the flood damage first occurred, the more work will be needed to restore the property. This will then make the costs for flood cleanup higher.

Here is what happens to water damage over time:

  • Within minutes and hours: The water can cause staining to wet carpeting and cause wood to swell. If the water contains contaminants, it will quickly spread contamination.
  • Within days: Mold and mildew may appear and there may be permanent damage to paint and wallpaper. Wooden structural elements will start to swell and wood flooring may be severely warped.
  • In a week: Mold and mildew can spread throughout the affected areas of your property including on furniture, walls, and on structural elements.
  • As weeks go by: Mold can take hold deep within the organic materials in your home like wood and cause damage that is beyond repair. The presence of extensive mold growth can also cause allergic reactions, infections, and worse health effects.
  • After prolonged period: Water damage can affect the foundation and structural integrity of the house.

What materials are affected?

Household materials will react to water in different ways, and some are more resistant to water than others.  Some materials can be restored, while others will need to be replaced.  Which materials are most affected in your home will have an effect on the cost of the flood cleanup.

  • Vinyl and linoleum floors: These flooring types are pretty water resistant but there can be damage to the subfloor. Individual sections of these floors and the subfloors can be replaced instead of the entire floor.
  • Laminate floors: Laminate flooring needs to be dried immediately because once the water gets past the surface, it can no longer be effectively dried. It may take a couple days for laminate floors to start showing signs of damage.  Sections of the floor can be replaced, but usually the entire floor will need to be removed and replaced.  However, laminate flooring is relatively inexpensive to install.
  • Hardwood floors: Wood is porous so wood flooring can experience severe damage pretty quickly from water and flooding. Individual damaged spots can be repaired in some cases, but it’s usually cheaper to replace the whole floor if there is widespread damage.
  • Carpeting: Carpeting can take on a lot of water before it becomes damaged, but it is at risk of mold or mildew growth if it is not quickly dried. Category 2 water can damage the carpeting enough that it needs to be replaced while Category 3 water will cause the carpeting and pad to need to be replaced.
  • Ceramic or stone tile floors: These flooring types are very resistant to water and if the tile is well sealed, the water will not reach the subfloor. As long as the water does not reach the subfloor, the damage will be minimal.  It is also possible to only replace tiles that are damaged.

The flooring of your home is just an example of how professionals must determine what type of materials are affected and what needs to be done for the restoration.  They will also need to determine the extent of the damage to drywall, furniture, wooden structural elements, and more to get a better idea of the cost of the restoration.


Is there mold growth?

Mold spores are naturally present in the air, so mold growth is a possibility at just about any time. All the spores need to start forming mold colonies are an organic food source and a moisture source. Because of this, mold growth is a common after-effect of water damage as it can appear within a few days.

If mold does grow in response to the flood damage, then the fungus will cause its own set of harm to your property. Because of this, any situation involving flood damage that also includes mold growth will require additional work. This inevitably increases the price for water damage restoration and cleanup.

Where is your home located?

The location of your home can affect the cost off flood cleanup in a couple of different ways.  One way your location can affect costs is that the cost of the service will generally match the basic standard of living in your area.  The other way your location can affect costs is if your home is in a humid climate.  Homes affected by water damage in humid areas will require additional effort which will increase costs.

Is reconstruction needed?

If the damaged materials can be repaired instead of replaced, this could help keep costs down.  However, sometimes reconstruction is needed to replace materials that were heavily damaged by water which will increase the time of the restoration as well as the costs.

Reconstruction may be needed if the following has occurred:

  • Extensive mold growth
  • Damage from contaminated water
  • Damage from a severe storm
  • Water damage that was left untreated for a long time


Professional Water Damage Restoration Services

servicemaster water damage cleanup

If your residential or commercial property has suffered water damage by flooding, then do not hesitate to reach out to a professional for flood cleanup help. Waiting will only give the water more time to cause further harm.

ServiceMaster DAK offers water damage restoration services to help homes and businesses with their water damage emergencies, including flooding. Within these services, our professional IICRC-certified water technicians will eliminate standing water and excess moisture, thoroughly dry out the property, and restore/replace damaged materials.

Available 24/7

For professional flood cleanup and water damage restoration services in the North Shore and Northwest Chicago Suburbs, call ServiceMaster DAK at (847) 459-3900 where we can be reached on a 24/7 basis.


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