What Is Water Damage Restoration? A Complete Guide [2024]

By: Diana Rodriguez-Zaba
Updated on: April 15, 2024

Water restoration is a critical service after water damage, but it can be tough to understand its purpose.

Fortunately, we’re here to help. At ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba, we have over 85 years of combined experience providing comprehensive water damage restoration services to customers like you.

In this blog, we’ll look at the process that addresses water emergencies in homes and businesses.

What Is Water Damage Restoration?

basement flood water restoration

Water damage restoration is a professional service focused on recovering and restoring a property after undergoing various types of water-related destruction. 

This process typically involves several key steps, including the following:

  • Water removal
  • Decontamination
  • Drying of affected areas
  • Cleanup and sanitizing
  • Repairing or replacing damaged materials

The primary goal of water damage restoration is to return the property to its pre-damage condition, ensuring it is safe, clean, and free from potential health hazards like mold and bacteria that often accompany water damage.

Professionals in this field use specialized equipment and techniques to address and mitigate the damage efficiently, ultimately helping homeowners and business owners recover from unexpected water-related incidents.

What Are The Differences Between Water Damage Restoration, Mitigation, And Remediation?

Prevents additional water damageProtects propertyKeeps the people who live in a home safeRepairs existing water damage Focuses on restoring property to its original conditionWater damage remediation addresses the cause of water damage, such as leaks or flooding
Done during or immediately after the water damage eventDone after the water damage event takes placeOften completed within days of water damage occurring
Does not replace or repair damaged propertyRepairs and replaced damaged itemsRemediation emphasizes moisture and contaminant removal tools like dehumidifiers and air purifiers rather than rebuilding the damaged space
Focuses on removing or discarding damaged propertyAdds new items, like building materials, to the homeThe ultimate goal of remediation is to ensure a safe environment by addressing the root cause and immediate effects of water damage
Temporary solutionLong-term, permanent solutionLong-term, permanent solution

When Do I Need A Water Damage Restoration Service?

water restoration company in chicago, il

Water damage restoration services are helpful in any of the following situations:

  • If a burst pipe under the sink floods your kitchen, restoration professionals repair and clean floors, walls, and cabinets.
  • If a storm floods the basement.
  • If you have a leaky pipe that has caused more than 1 inch of standing water in any area of the property
  • If you have water damage that may have compromised the electrical wiring
  • If you have damage from Category 3 black water, including floodwater
  • If there is water damage that occurred more than 24 hours earlier
  • If you see signs of buckled ceilings, crumbling drywall, and warped flooring
  • If you have water-damaged personal belongings or business equipment

The Water Damage Restoration Process

moisture reader to detect water damage

1. Inspection and Assessment

The first crucial step in the water damage restoration process involves thoroughly inspecting and assessing the affected area. 

During this phase, professionals utilize moisture detection equipment, such as hygrometers and moisture detectors, to identify the extent of water damage and determine what class of water damage is present. 

Next, the team formulates an action plan based on the assessment, outlining the steps required for effective remediation. 

2. Water Damage Mitigation

To prevent further damage, the team jumps into action. 

This includes turning off the water source to stop additional flooding, removing valuable items from the water’s path, and starting the extraction process. 

High-powered pumps and vacuums remove standing water as quickly as possible, minimizing secondary damage.

3. Critical Structural Drying

After water removal, the focus shifts to drying and dehumidifying the affected areas. 

Specialists use industrial air movers and dehumidifiers to expedite the drying process. 

This step is vital to prevent the proliferation of mold and mildew, which can begin to grow within 24 hours under suitable conditions.

4. Damaged Material Removal

Some materials may be beyond repair and must be removed to ensure a thorough restoration. 

This includes soggy drywall, insulation, carpets, and padding that have absorbed water and may harbor mold. 

The removal process must be handled carefully to avoid spreading contaminants.

5. Cleaning, Sanitizing, and Deodorizing

Following the drying phase, cleaning is essential to restore the property to its pre-damage state. 

This involves washing down surfaces, using antimicrobial treatments to sanitize affected areas, and employing deodorizing techniques to eliminate unpleasant odors. 

This ensures the property looks good and is safe for occupancy.

6. Complete Property Restoration

The final step in the water damage restoration process entails restoring the property to its original condition or better. 

This might involve minor repairs, such as painting and replacing drywall, or major renovations, such as rebuilding entire rooms or sections of the property. The goal is to make the property look like the water damage never occurred.

What To Do Before Help Arrives

Before water damage restoration help arrives, take proactive steps to mitigate further damage and ensure everyone in the home is safe.

Here’s what to do:

  • Turn Off the Water Supply: Turn off the main supply to prevent additional water from leaking and causing more damage. Identify the main shut-off valve early to enable quick action during a water damage emergency.
  • Turn Off Electricity: To reduce the risk of electrical shock, shut off electrical power in the affected areas. This step is crucial if water levels are near electrical outlets or devices.
  • Vent the Area: If weather permits, open windows and doors to allow fresh air to circulate and start drying. Adequate ventilation helps reduce humidity levels and can prevent the growth of mold and mildew.
  • Contact Your Insurance Company: Early communication with your insurance provider is essential. Report the incident and the extent of the damage as accurately as possible. Take photographs and document the damage for your claim. Once the restoration team arrives, they can help you with this process. 

What Does A Water Damage Restoration Company Do?

water damage restoration chicago


There’s no set timeline for water damage restoration services.

Instead, the timeline depends on a variety of factors, including the following:

  • The amount of water and extent of damages
  • Length of time your property has been affected
  • Time required to locate and address the water source
  • Time needed to dry water-damaged materials
  • The type of water and potential contamination

Our timeline estimates are based on the details of each job. However, drying time for one room averages 72 hours, and reconstruction work can run from one to two weeks.

Tools They Use

  • Dehumidifiers: High-grade dehumidifiers are essential in removing moisture from the air and surrounding materials, helping prevent mold and mildew growth.
  • Air movers: These are used to facilitate the drying process by increasing air circulation around the wet areas.
  • Moisture Detectors: Instruments such as hygrometers and moisture meters are crucial for assessing the extent of moisture saturation and monitoring the drying process.
  • Water Extractors: These powerful tools remove water efficiently from carpets, flooring, and other surfaces.
  • Air Scrubbers: Essential for improving air quality, air scrubbers remove airborne particles, odors, and gasses from the affected area.
  • Thermal Foggers and Deodorizers: These tools can help eliminate odors resulting from water damage.
  • Infrared Cameras: These cameras identify water in hidden areas, ensuring no moisture is missed during the restoration process.

When To Call Them

Call a water damage restoration company if you’re experiencing any of the following:

  • Visible Mold Growth: When homeowners notice mold, which thrives in damp environments, it’s crucial to call a water damage restoration company to prevent health risks and further spread.
  • Water Stains on Ceilings or Walls: These things often indicate leaks that can damage a home’s structural integrity if not addressed promptly.
  • Sudden Increase in Water Bill: An unexpected surge in the water bill can signal hidden leaks, necessitating professional detection and repair to avoid extensive water damage.
  • After a Flood: Following any level of flooding, immediate action by a restoration company can mitigate long-term damage and prevent mold growth.
  • Unpleasant Odors: Musty smells often indicate the presence of dampness or decaying materials due to water intrusion, requiring professional assessment and remediation.

Do You Need A Water Damage Restoration Service In The Chicago Area? We’re Here To Help!

water damage restoration chicago team

Recovering from a water damage emergency isn’t easy. Whether it’s at home or your business, you want industry professionals on the job as soon as possible.

ServiceMaster by Zaba responds with over 85 years of combined experience, an arsenal of advanced equipment, and the best water damage teams in Chicago.

We serve Chicagoland with water damage restoration services for Logan Square, Magnificent Mile, and the surrounding suburbs, including Evanston, Glenview, Northbrook, Skokie, and more.

When you need Chicago’s go-to source for expert water damage restoration, we’re ready for your call: 773-647-1985

How much does water damage restoration cost?

The cost of water damage restoration can vary significantly based on multiple factors, such as the extent of the damage, the size of the area affected, the type of water involved (clean, gray, or black water), and the materials that need to be repaired or replaced. As such, it’s crucial to get a detailed quote from a restoration service provider, as they can offer a more accurate assessment based on your specific situation.

How do you fix water-damaged walls?

Fixing water-damaged walls can be a challenging task, and it’s often best to call in a professional to make sure the job is done safely and effectively. However, if you want to tackle the issue yourself, here’s a brief overview of the steps involved: 1. Identify and Stop the Source of Water: Before any repair work begins, identify and eliminate the source of the water damage. 2. Assess the Damage: Determine the extent of the water damage and whether the drywall is salvageable or needs replacement. 3. Dry Out the Area: Use fans and dehumidifiers to dry the affected area. This step may take several days. 4. Remove Damaged Material: Carefully cut out and remove damaged drywall or insulation. Take precautions to prevent mold spores from spreading. 5. Clean and Treat for Mold: Clean the area with a mold-killing solution and allow it to dry completely. If mold is extensive, professional remediation may be necessary. 6. Replace and Repair: Install new drywall or patch smaller areas as needed, then sand, prime, and paint to match the existing wall. Remember, water damage involves potential risks like mold exposure and structural compromise.  For significant damage, hiring a professional is always the best bet.

How long does it take to restore a water-damaged property?

The time it takes to restore a water-damaged property depends on the damage’s extent, the property’s size, and the restoration process’s efficiency. Generally, the restoration process can take 72 hours for minor damages to several weeks for more severe cases. Initial steps like water extraction and drying typically require a few days, while repairing water damage to walls, floors, and possessions can extend the process further. Each situation is unique, so it’s essential to consult with a professional restoration service to get a more accurate timeline for your specific circumstances.