What Is Water Remediation? Everything You Need to Know

By: Diana Rodriguez-Zaba
Updated on: March 18, 2024

Water remediation is a critical step in restoration. If you’re like most property owners, you might not be familiar with this part of the process.

Fortunately, ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba is here to help. We have more than 85 years of combined experience in restoration, and we take care of water damage in Chicago homes and businesses every day.

In this blog, we’re compiling our knowledge to explain everything you need to know about water remediation: what it is, how it works, and why it’s so important.

What Is Water Remediation?

water removal from damaged floor

Water remediation is the step that happens right after mitigation, and focuses on cleanup and repairs that set the stage for final restoration. 

The process ensures a dry, sanitary environment that serves as a clean base for returning a property to its pre-loss condition.

On the other hand, water mitigation contains initial damage and prevents it from spreading. The work helps minimize secondary damages such as buckled floors and moldy drywall.

Most property owners are familiar with water restoration. This final step returns affected areas and materials to their original condition.

What Does the Water Remediation Process Include?

moisture detection in wall

1. Inspection

The first step in water remediation is inspection. 

During this phase, a remediation team will assess the severity of the water intrusion, take stock of damaged or destroyed items, and use moisture maps (images of surfaces containing moisture) to identify the location, size, and severity of water-damaged areas. 

The remediation team will also carefully determine which of the following categories of water is present:

Category 1 Clean Water

This type of water is considered clean and potable. Broken water supply lines or sink faucets are typical sources of Category 1 water. Contact with a variety of materials and substances can contaminate clean water.

Category 2 Gray Water

Broken connections to appliances, tubs, and sinks are typical sources of Category 2 water. Contamination levels are considered unsafe. Gray water bacteria begins to multiply within 48 hours.

Category 3 Black Water

category 3 water damage

Category 3 water carries dangerous pathogens that cause serious illness. Examples of this highly contaminated water are sewage backups and water from natural flood events. Category 3 water remediation should only be taken care of by industry-certified technicians following OSHA and EPA regulations.

Equipment used:

  • Infrared cameras may be used to detect hidden water behind walls or under floors. 
  • Moisture meters will be used to monitor the level of moisture in materials and, later, to confirm successful drying.

Techniques involved:

Water damage remediation companies start with a visual inspection, during which they look for visible signs of water damage, including but not limited to staining, swelling in walls or flooring, or mold growth. 

The team may also use infrared cameras and moisture meters to detect moisture that isn’t immediately visible to the naked eye. 

In situations where water damage could have compromised structural integrity, some companies may enlist the help of structural engineers, as well.

2. Removal of wet items

Once the remediation company finishes the inspection, they’ll focus on mitigating losses. 

One way to do this is to remove wet materials from the flooded area. This is important because it clears the space for water removal and because it helps remove items that could trap moisture and lead to mold and mildew formation. 

In some cases, a remediation company may also be able to remove undamaged materials from the flooded area, saving some of your personal items and preventing more losses. 

Equipment used

  • Water damage remediation companies employ a range of specialized equipment to effectively remove wet items and mitigate water damage, including wet vacuums and submersible pumping systems. 
  • If there are materials, like carpets or upholstery, which have been soaked in water, the team may use dehumidifiers to extract moisture and promote rapid drying. 
  • To prevent the growth of mold and bacteria, air scrubbers and fogging equipment can disperse antimicrobial and disinfectant solutions.

Techniques involved: Water damage remediation companies employ a systematic approach to remove wet items from a given space. 

Items damaged beyond repair are carefully removed and disposed of, while salvageable items are relocated for drying and restoration. 

The process is carefully and expertly executed to prevent further damage and potential mold growth.

3. Complete Water Removal

water remediation equipment

Water damage teams use an arsenal of advanced tools and specialized products, including wet-dry vacuums, submersible sump pumps, and more, to extract residual water from floors, carpets, drywall, and ceilings.

Depending on the extent of the water damage, the team may use any of the above to remove standing water and set the stage for further remediation and restoration efforts. 

Equipment used:

  • Portable extractors and submersible pumps are used for deep water extraction.
  • Moisture detection instruments such as hygrometers and moisture meters are used to identify hidden pockets of moisture. 
  • Infrared cameras may also be used to identify hidden moisture.
  • Wood floor and subfloor drying systems remove water from the flooring. 

Techniques involved: During the water extraction and removal process, water extraction, the team uses powerful pumps and vacuum units to remove large amounts of water. Moisture detection tools are then used to identify water that may still be hidden behind walls or under flooring. Industrial-grade dehumidifiers and air movers are employed to dry out the remaining moisture and humidity, preventing mold growth. 

4. Cleaning and Sanitizing

Next, all affected surfaces and materials are cleaned and disinfected with commercial-grade tools and products designed to avoid further damage and prevent the growth of mold, mildew, and other harmful pathogens. 

Cleaning is followed up with the application of OSHA-approved sanitizing products that help kill harmful pathogens. Finally, the team takes steps to remove lingering mustines and odor. 

Equipment used:

  • Industrial water extractors and pumps are used to remove standing water.
  • Air movers and dehumidifiers accelerate the drying process by forcing moisture to evaporate more quickly. 
  • Infrared cameras might be used to detect hidden water behind walls or under floors, ensuring no areas remain damp.
  •  For sanitization, most companies use antimicrobial treatments to prevent the growth of mold and bacteria. 
  • Finally, high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) scrubbers are used to purify the air and remove any airborne contaminants resulting from the flood.

Techniques involved:

To ensure thorough cleaning and sanitation, companies also use antimicrobial treatments to eliminate any bacteria and mold growth. 

Finally, the team uses air scrubbers and fogging equipment to address and remove lingering odors or airborne contaminants. This ensures the environment is thoroughly cleaned and will be safe for occupancy.

5. Mold Remediation

Mold remediation is the process of removing and cleaning mold, particularly toxic mold, from an indoor environment.

Remediation involves identifying the source of the moisture causing the mold growth, fixing it, and then cleaning and removing the mold itself. It’s a task best left to professionals, as improper handling can lead to health hazards and further mold growth. 

Mold remediation is not just about cleaning the visible mold but also about implementing measures to prevent future mold growth.

Equipment used:

  • Teams will use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to protect themselves. Mold remediation PPE typically includes N-95 respirator masks, gloves, and protective coveralls. 
  • Air scrubbers and negative air machines are used to filter contaminated air and prevent cross-contamination. 
  • Moisture meters help identify hidden moisture in walls and ceilings, which could cause mold growth. 
  • The team may use HEPA Vacuums to catch tiny mold spores during the remediation process, ensuring they do not spread in the air.
  • The team will use antimicrobial chemicals and biocides to treat surfaces and kill mold spores.

Techniques involved

To get rid of mold in your water-damaged space, water remediation pros will focus on drying and cleaning the affected area and getting rid of excess moisture that could promote mold growth. 

They may also use specialized cleaners designed to kill mold spores on contact and prevent their re-growth. 

6. Final Drying Process

water damage drying

Structural drying moves into the final phase during water remediation. Industrial equipment runs for several days or longer until technicians confirm that the final drying process is complete. 

Equipment used:

  • Air movers and dehumidifiers are deployed to speed up the drying process, reducing the potential for mold growth. 
  • Infrared thermometers and moisture meters detect lingering dampness in walls, floors, and ceilings.

Techniques involved:

During the structural drying phase, teams may open windows to promote airflow in the area, use fans and air scrubbers to clean and circulate the air, and install dehumidifiers to pull excess moisture from the space. 

In certain extreme scenarios, specialized drying equipment or a ‘tenting’ method may be employed to target specific areas with stubborn moisture problems.

The drying process is closely monitored and adjustments are made, as needed. 

7. Pre-Restoration Repais

chicago water damage expert

This last step addresses repairs that must be completed before restoration. It can include floors, ceilings, and drywall. 

Equipment used:

  • Dehumidifiers are employed to control moisture levels in the space.
  • Air movers promote rapid and continued drying by increasing air circulation. 
  • Moisture meters allow teams to measure the degree of moisture in different materials and make sure spaces are dry before restoration begins.
  • The team may also use thermal imaging cameras to double-check for walls in surfaces and building materials.

Techniques involved:

Pre-restoration repairs may involve the removal and replacement of severely damaged materials before restoration begins to ensure the best possible restoration outcome. If this is necessary, the team will work with you to decide what to discard and what to save. 

What Should You Do If You Need Water Remediation Help?

If you need water remediation help, follow these steps:

  1. Act fast. When faced with water damage, it’s imperative to act promptly to mitigate the adverse impacts. DO NOT WAIT to address water damage or contact professionals for assistance. 
  2. Take steps to protect your family and your home. Protect yourself and your belongings from exposure to possibly contaminated water – move still-dry items out of water-damaged areas, and take steps to protect, bag, or cover items that have not yet been affected by water damage. 
  3. Identify and stop the source of the water intrusion. Turn off supply lines or your home’s water main to stop the flow of water.
  4. Contact your insurance company. It’s important to communicate with your insurance company and get a claim number as quickly as possible after water damage occurs. 
  5. Begin the process of drying out your property. This could take anywhere from 3 to 4 days, depending on the severity of the damage.
  6. Contact a water damage remediation company. Lastly, reach out to a professional water damage remediation company to ensure that all damage is appropriately addressed and to reduce the risk of further problems. 

Need Water Remediation in Chicago, IL, or the Suburbs? Count On Us!

You hope it never happens. When it does, you know you can count on ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba. We’re proud of our standing as Chicago’s most trusted water damage cleanup company, and we’re ready for your call 24/7.

When you need expert water remediation in Chicagoland, we’re here for you day or night: 773-647-1985

How Much Does Water Damage Remediation Cost?

On average, jobs range between $3,000 and $8,000. There are other factors involved, such as water category and contamination level.

How Long Does It Take to Dry Out Water Damage?

The exact timeline depends on several factors, but it usually takes about 2-5 days to dry out water damage in flooded parts of the home.

Is Water Damage Dangerous?

It can be, depending on the severity of the damage, the category of water present, whether mold formation has begun, and whether the water affected electrical systems or critical living areas. 

Is It Safe to Stay in a Flooded Home?

Usually, the answer is no. If it’s possible, we recommend finding somewhere else to stay after your home floods and while water damage remediation and subsequent restoration efforts take place. 

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Water Remediation?

In most situations, your homeowners insurance policy will cover the cost of water remediation, as well as mitigation and restoration. Check policy details to be sure. You should be covered for all services involved in recovering from water damage in these situations: mold remediation after a covered plumbing problem, burst pipes caused by freezing weather, plumbing leaks and appliance breakdowns.
There are situations that aren’t covered by homeowners insurance, including these examples: sewer line backups that originate outside the house, plumbing failures caused by neglect or poor maintenance, water and mold damage resulting from a natural flood event.
Some insurers offer coverage for sewer backups with insurance riders or separate policies. In the case of natural flooding, you can purchase coverage through the National Flood Insurance Program.

Is DIY Water Remediation Possible?

When you take care of a home plumbing leak, water remediation is always part of the job. Extensive water damage can make the workload overwhelming. Still, the situation has to be addressed quickly to minimize structural damage. Before taking on DIY water remediation, consider these important factors: heavy-duty water damage equipment is difficult to find at rental centers, safely using industrial-grade water remediation products requires training, the time required to remediate a job is greatly reduced by professional teams.
Homeowners insurance covers the cost of water remediation services.
If the size of the project makes you think twice, talk to a company that specializes in water damage remediation and restoration. If you have any concerns about how the work might impact your health, discuss it with the pros. It’s often easier and faster to let them take care of the job from start to finish
Additionally, you’ll need to consider the fact that working with Category 2 and Category 3 water is extremely hazardous. 

What Else Do Water Damage Pros Do?

When you’re facing a big remediation job, it’s hard to know what to expect. The best water damage technicians make it easier with these courtesies and services: the project manager explains exactly how work will proceed, you’re given a schedule that allows you to adjust your timetable, professional services include mitigation, remediation and restoration, in-house staff assists you with filing your water damage insurance claim.
Once the project is finished, your property is back to its pre-loss condition. You also have a working partner you can depend on for any type of future water damage to your home or business.