How to Repair Water Damage in Your Home like a Pro

By: Diana Rodriguez-Zaba
Updated on: April 25, 2024

You’re looking at soaked floors, saturated sheetrock and a potential mold outbreak. Whether your home’s water damage is the result of rain dripping through a leaky roof or a plumbing failure inside the walls, you need to move fast.

Where do you start when you take on water cleanup and restoration by yourself?

As Chicago’s leading cleaning and restoration contractor, we’re often asked for tips on how to repair water damage without calling in professionals. It’s a big, time-consuming job. You need the right equipment and solid handyman skills, but if the situation is not too severe it can be a DIY project.

Before You Get Started

As you develop an action plan and assemble the necessary equipment and tools, it’s important to understand the different factors involved in this kind of work. You’re dealing with more than just repairs, so be prepared to:

Gather Your Gear, Equipment & Cleaning Products

You can pull up wet carpet and tear out ruined sheetrock with standard tools. However, water damage restoration work also requires protective gear, heavy equipment and specialized cleaning products. You need the following:

  • Personal protection including overalls, rubber gloves and heavy boots
  • Non-vented goggles and OSHA-rated particle respirators or face masks for mold cleanup
  • Heavy-duty shop vac for water extraction
  • Large fans and high-volume dehumidifiers for the drying process
  • Sanitizers, disinfectants and microbial cleaning products

All items can be purchased at your local hardware store or home improvement center, and you can also rent equipment at most of the same locations.

How to Repair Water Damage in Your Home

repairing water damage

Determining how to repair water damage depends on the size of the affected area. Small jobs covering a few square feet might not require all of the following steps. Keep in mind that an average water restoration project can take a week or longer to complete.

1. Identify and Repair the Source

Whether it’s a ruptured washing machine hose or a leaking pipe in the plumbing system, you have to identify the source of your water damage. Take care of all repairs before beginning the cleanup and restoration process.

2. Extract Water From Carpets

If water in an area is less than an inch deep, use a wet vac to extract as much moisture as possible from carpets. The vac works on hard floor surfaces too. Try to save carpet by pulling it up and letting it dry outside for several days.

Power Tip: If you’re dealing with more than an inch of water, let a restoration contractor handle the job with truck-mounted pump systems designed to handle high-volume jobs.

3. Remove Baseboards and Trim

Baseboards, door and window trim block efficient air circulation making it harder to dry out floors and sheetrock. Remove all wood stripping so that it doesn’t trap moisture and encourage mold growth.

4. Start the Drying Process


Create cross-ventilation through all affected areas by positioning multiple fans at different locations and levels. Run several large dehumidifiers, and empty collection wells often. Understanding how to repair water damage takes plenty of patience. You need at least three days to dry out sheetrock, carpets and flooring.

Power Tip: Opening windows in water-damaged rooms can work against you. If it’s humid outside, damp air cuts down on the efficiency of fans and dehumidifiers.

5. Clean and Disinfect

Once everything is completely dried out, scrub down all affected areas to remove dirt, minimize stains and address contamination. You can use a homemade bleach and water solution on hard surfaces, but cleaning sheetrock and wallboard requires specially formulated products.

Power Tip: Mold quickly establishes fast-growing colonies in water-damaged materials. After cleaning everything, treat all surfaces with a microbial product that kills fungus and prevents spore reproduction.

6. Tear Out, Dispose and Replace

Severely water-damaged sheetrock, carpet and trim pose a high risk for bacterial and fungal contamination. Don’t risk endangering your health by trying to save money on reconstruction costs. Tear out everything that can’t be salvaged, bag it for safe disposal, and replace with new materials.

Don’t Take Any Chances

We’ve based our six steps covering how to repair water damage on our years of field experience. If you have any concerns about your personal safety or your property’s structural integrity during the process, we strongly recommend that you call in a certified restoration professional to deal with:

We’re Standing By

professional water damage restoration help

If you decide to tackle a water damage restoration project on your own, we hope that our information makes the job easier. We’re always here to answer your questions, and our online community welcomes your feedback.

You can count on us for a 24/7 response to projects that are just too big to take on by yourself. Our teams here at ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba are standing by with the best water cleanup and restoration services available in Chicago and the suburbs. Our fleet vans are ready to roll, and our teams are ready to go to work for you. When you need help, call us first.