My Commercial Property Has Water Damage: What Should I Do?

By: Diana Rodriguez-Zaba
Updated on: February 20, 2023

When commercial water damage affects your building, the impact on business can be severe:

Burst pipes or a badly leaking roof can shut you down. Storm flooding can ruin interiors and destroy inventory.

Knowing what to do before disaster strikes makes it easier to quickly recover and get back to business.

How to Safely Handle Commercial Water Damage

It might be a bathroom flooded with sewage backup. It could be an entire floor of offices soaked by a broken sprinkler system.

Regardless of the cause, these 10 steps get things under control and position your business for professional commercial water damage restoration.

1. Know Your Building

Become familiar with different water cutoff points throughout your property. Make sure you know how to turn off the fire sprinkler system. Locate the main water cutoff valve, and be ready to shut off the entire building’s supply.

2. Know Your Water Types

Different types of water damage pose different health risk levels. Knowing what you’re dealing with makes a big difference in the safety of everyone in the building.

sewage water backup
Black water is highly hazardous and should only be handled by experts.

• White Water: This type of water most commonly results from plumbing problems. It’s not considered contaminated.

• Gray Water: Sink drain pipes, dish washers and toilet tank overflows produce this type of flooding. The water is contaminated but not dangerous.

Black Water: Sewage backups and storm flooding are common sources of highly contaminated black water. Always call in a professional to deal with this type of toxic water damage.

3. Ask Employees to Help

Designate several employees to follow through with a water damage response in case you’re not available. Show them where and how to turn off water valves. Give them emergency numbers for city utilities, your insurance agent and your restoration contractor.

4. Take Action Immediately

Always identify and shut down the water source as soon as possible. Try to get fresh air circulating by opening windows and doors. Alert everyone in the building, and recommend avoiding affected areas.

5. Call Your Insurance Company

Contact your insurance agent, and explain the type and extent of damages. An adjuster should inspect the property within a day or so of your call. If you don’t already work with a cleaning and restoration company, ask your adjuster to recommend an IICRC-certified contractor.

6. Call Your Restoration Professional

It’s always best to let industry professionals take care of property cleanup and commercial water damage restoration. Call your restoration company, or follow through with your insurance agent’s referral.

commercial water damage professional
Our team was hard at work restoring this Chicago facility after severe water damage.

A restoration contractor starts with a complete building inspection and water damage assessment. Based on his or her recommendations, you know what to expect throughout the restoration process.

7. Leave Everything As Is

Don’t try to start cleanup before the insurance adjuster’s inspection. It’s important that he or she sees all the damage from floor to ceiling. You want the adjuster to fairly evaluate everything from wet carpets and soggy furniture to water-damaged equipment and inventory.

8. Document the Damage

Document all damages with pictures and video. Make a list of everything that needs to be repaired, replaced or restored. Keep the information in a digital file form so that you can share it with the insurance company.

9. Stay in Touch With Customers

If water damage forces you to temporarily close your doors, reach out to your customers. Let them know what happened. Briefly outline the steps you’re taking and when you expect to reopen. Whether you call or email, customers will appreciate hearing from you.

10. Be Patient With the Process

The water damage you see in your building is only part of the overall problem. Soaked wall studs, moldy framing and buckled subflooring are just a few examples of hidden water damage.

The cleanup and drying process can take several days. Be patient as your restoration team works through cleaning, sanitation and repairs.

Let Us Get You Back in Business

We understand how hard it is to face a temporary closure for cleanup and restoration. Our teams help Chicago business owners recover from all types of property damage every day.

cleaning up after building water damage
Let professionals take care of the cleanup and get your building back to safety.

Trust ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba to get your doors open as soon as possible. We’re here 24/7 with Chicago’s best commercial water damage restoration services. Call our teams at 773-647-1985 for an immediate response.