What is Water Mitigation? A Complete Guide [2023]

By: Diana Rodriguez-Zaba
Updated on: May 11, 2023

Heavy rains fill the basement with floodwater. Leaks behind the bathroom wall create mold growth that quickly spreads. A broken fire sprinkler system at work soaks offices, furniture and equipment.

These are just a few examples of property disasters that need professional water mitigation.

Don’t confuse the process with water restoration.

Both services are essential to recovery. However, you can’t restore your home or business without mitigating the water damage first.

This guide covers everything you need to know.

What Is Water Mitigation?

Water mitigation is the first step in a process that addresses water damage. Mitigation prevents further damage from occurring and involves water removal, moisture control and structural drying.

Think of water mitigation as an emergency response that contains the initial impact. It minimizes secondary water damages such as buckled floors, crumbled drywall and widespread mold growth.

Water mitigation sets the stage for full service repairs and property-wide restoration.

Water Restoration vs Water Mitigation: What are the Differences?

Now that we’ve covered water mitigation basics, let’s take a look at how it’s different from water damage repair and restoration.

This comparison outlines both processes and the different steps involved in each.

How Does Water Mitigation Work?

water mitigation techniques

Inspection and Assessment – Mitigation technicians inspect the property, assess the level and type of water damage and take care of any necessary emergency repairs and building board-up.

Water Extraction – Deep standing water is pumped out of the property using truck-mounted water extraction systems. Teams follow up with specialized vacuum equipment that removes residual water from porous surfaces.

Structural DryingStructural drying involves a range of industrial-grade equipment such as wood floor and subfloor drying systems, high-volume air movers, heavy duty axial fans and desiccant dehumidifiers.

Property Stabilization – This is achieved by applying site-specific drying techniques that minimize secondary water damage. For example, the drying equipment can be focused on crumbling drywall or buckling floors. Addressing secondary water damage stabilizes the property and preps it for restoration.

• Site Cleanup – As the drying phase progresses, water mitigation crews clear out debris, identify salvageable items and begin the cleanup process. This includes disinfecting all affected surfaces and materials.

How Does Water Restoration Work?

Water restoration is a very different process.

water restoration techniques

Material Tear-Out – The water damage restoration process begins by tearing out damaged materials such as soaked drywall, buckled flooring and warped baseboards.

Repairs and Replacements – Materials that aren’t badly water-damaged are assessed to determine if they can be repaired or must be replaced.

Mold Removal Water damage technicians locate and remove all mold in affected areas and confirm that interior humidity levels are stable and back to normal.

Complete Restoration – This final phase of work involves repairing, rebuilding and replacing interiors so that the property is restored to its original condition.

Are There Different Types of Water Mitigation?

Water mitigation techniques differ depending on the water source. For example, water from a broken pipe is usually classified as Category 1 clean water. In these cases, water damage crews follow industry standards for mitigation.

sewage backup in chicago home
Sewage backup is category 3 water damage that needs to be handled by restoration professionals.

Category 2 gray water poses a bigger challenge. Common sources for this type of damage are backed-up sump pumps, ruptured disposal lines or leaking washing machine hoses. Mitigation crews address potential contamination and chemicals that might be present in Category 2 water.

The mitigation process for Category 3 black water requires specialized equipment and products. Black water carries dangerous pathogens and hazardous chemicals that soak into affected materials. Technicians follow stringent OSHA, CDC and EPA regulations for Category 3 water mitigation.

Common Misconceptions About Water Mitigation and Restoration

If you’re dealing with water damage in your home or business, you may be thinking about taking care of it yourself. Consider these misconceptions and risks before you take on the work.

Misconception 1: Replacements Are Cheaper

Don’t assume that replacing damaged belongings and furniture saves money. The cost of restoration is often much lower than what you’d pay for new items. A full-service restoration company knows how to identify and clean salvageable furnishings and items such as appliances, electronics and personal belongings.

contents restoration after water damage

Misconception 2: Air Drying Is Cost-Effective

Your property will eventually dry without mitigation. However, air drying isn’t cost-effective. Moisture that remains in floors and behind walls degrades materials and compromises their condition. It breeds unhealthy mold growth that spreads through the damp environment. The delayed cost of addressing these problems quickly increases.

Misconception 3: DIY Water Mitigation Is Doable

If you’re comfortable working with water extraction equipment, you can rent small systems from home improvement centers. If you’re dealing with Category 2 or 3 water, you need to suit up with OSHA-approved PPE gear. Structural drying is a crucial part of the process and requires additional equipment. Overall, it’s easier and safer to let industry-certified professionals take care of water mitigation.

Need Water Damage Mitigation at Your Chicago Home or Business? We Can Help

Whether you’re facing water damage at the house or work, it can seem overwhelming. By understanding the difference between mitigation and restoration, you know what to expect from the recovery process.

water mitigation vans in chicago il

Here at ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba, we provide a full line of water damage mitigation services and expert water damage restoration.

We’re your one-stop shop for complete property recovery in Chicago and the suburbs, and we’re here for you 24/7. Just give us a call: 773-647-1985

Do I have to take care of water mitigation right away?

Any delay in starting the process increases the risk of water damage spreading through your property. It also gives mold additional time to grow deep into drywall and flooring.

What can affect the cost of water damage mitigation?

There are many factors to consider, including the type of water and extent of damages. Areas that are hard to access like crawlspaces and attics also impact the cost of water mitigation.

Does homeowners insurance cover water mitigation?

In most cases, yes. For example, burst pipes and plumbing leaks are covered by homeowners insurance. However, you need additional coverage for water damage caused by natural flooding.