Fire and water damage go hand in hand. Fire damage complicates water damage repair in three key ways. First, water damage must take second place to the structural concerns of fire damage. Secondly, cleaning up ash and flame retardant chemicals is more difficult than cleaning a clean water leak. Lastly, your insurance company might require you to differentiate between the sources of damage.
Water cleanup is secondary to structural safety
Water damage gets worse the longer the water stays stagnant. In a typical flood or leak scenario, drying the water is considered a top priority. However, when fire damage is present, the top priority has to be making sure the home is structurally sound. The safety of the damage restoration team has to take precedence. Unfortunately, water damage worsens while initial assessments take place.
There is also a financial incentive to put structural soundness before water damage. From a practical standpoint, there’s no point cleaning water damage in a house that is a total loss. Whether the reason is safety-oriented or financial, water damage takes a secondary priority.
Ash and chemicals make the water a health hazard
Fire damage complicates water damage repair by making the water more difficult to clean. It’s common to use fire retardant chemicals to help douse flames. These chemicals are considered hazardous to humans. Ash also mixes with the standing water and provides food for bacteria or mold to grow. Additionally, heat releases more chemicals into your water supply. For example, if the fire occurred in the garage, motor oil and paint thinner along with other chemicals might have mixed with the water.
Safely cleaning this mixture of chemicals and health hazards takes time. The restoration team has to use specialized gear just to enter the contaminated area. The consequences for mistakes are high, therefore any restoration progress must use caution. This lengthens the process of fire and water damage repair even more.
Fire and water damage may need separate insurance documentation
A final concern about fire and water damage is the specifics of your insurance claim. Many homeowners have their insurance under one policy. This streamlines the process of documentation, but doesn’t always make it simple. In some situations it is useful to show what damage occurred during the fire. After that, you can update your claim to show water damage after the fact. If possible, avoid settling your claim until restorations are complete. As water damage persists it may become more expensive to repair. If you have already settled your claim, you may have to pay out of pocket for repairs over the estimate.
The presence of a fire makes water damage restoration more difficult. This makes the safety of the restoration team a top priority. First, the home must pass a safety inspection. Once it has, the restoration team has to combat the contamination risk of the water itself. Lastly, documentation and clear description of the damage for your insurance company must happen. The help of a professional restoration team can guide you through these steps. In time, your fire and water damaged home will be like new again.