Bathroom flooded - what do we need to do?
June 15, 2014 3:25 PM   Subscribe

Our bathroom flooded today when a sink plugged up and was left on for 10 to 15 minutes. We've cleaned up the water, but it's an upstairs bathroom, and water got into a light fixture in the main floor and a few gallons got into the basement (through the HVAC system, I think). What do we need to do?

We've towel dried the bathroom. There's carpet right outside the bathroom, and about 10 square feet of it was very soaked. When we first discovered the problem, there was maybe 2 to 3 inches of standing water on the bathroom floor, which is linoleum. My guess is the water made its way downhill through the carpet/linoleum gap. We towel dried the carpet too. I've got 3 or 4 fans running right now. There's not any more water in the light fixture. There's still a few drops coming down from the HVAC in the basement. The house is 100 years old with various renovations. My biggest concerns are 1) dry rot, 2) structural damage and 3) carpet damage/mold.

Is this worth calling my insurance agent? ServPro? Our basement gets somewhat flooded from time to time due to drainage from the back porch up the hill, so water in the basement is really the least of our concerns. (There's a small puddle right now, that's it.)
posted by Happydaz to Home & Garden (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'm no expert, but I had a leaking heating recently. There's a spray used to prevent dry rot and to get the water out of concrete walls/floors/ceilings, and prevent mold. I don't know any US brands though, but it shouldn't be very exotic or hard to get.
posted by MinusCelsius at 3:40 PM on June 15, 2014

Get some "Dry Air" [ Calcium based ] products into play and see what the change in those is near the suspected moisture areas. Fans, lots of air moving can do no harm. Humidity meter maybe.
posted by Freedomboy at 3:53 PM on June 15, 2014

That doesn't seem like a disastrous amount, if you start drying things out now. I'd close up the house and run the central A/C + fan overnight, at least a few degrees colder so the compressor actually runs. That should dry up any water in the vents while dehumidifying the house.
posted by JoeZydeco at 4:08 PM on June 15, 2014

Yep. I would DIY this. I have dealt with floods that required professional intervention.

This is not insurance or necessarily flood remediation specialist territory.

Google around for DIY tips.

You can rent extra fans. I would tear up the linoleum. I think you can treat the carpet before deciding you need to replace it (although replacing a small amount of hallway carpet is no biggie.) You might go ahead and tear up the linoleum and dry out the bathroom sub floor. Linoleum is cheap, much easier to replace than remediating mold down the line.

There's a ton more tips online. I think you can handle this.

Good luck.
posted by jbenben at 4:08 PM on June 15, 2014

I would only ever call an insurance agent if it was a repair that you literally could not afford. Every single time my parents used their homeowner's insurance they got dropped soon after. Each drop resulted in a higher premium at the next insurer. You'd have to check your policy if you're even covered for water damage anyway.

I have no advice about what to do about the actual damage.
posted by xyzzy at 4:18 PM on June 15, 2014

Yelp "flood restoration" or "water damage restoration" and get someone out today to look at it. You've got 72 hours to dry it before you risk having mold problems.
posted by Dansaman at 4:28 PM on June 15, 2014

I did this. It shorted out our phones, also using Drano meant that I had to replace the sink pipe. Warped our wood floors.

Took a whole to sort it all out, but it was such a PITA and the problems popped up individually over a two week period after the event.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 4:59 PM on June 15, 2014

There are a lot of people here telling you not to call the insurance company. I understand the reasons for that, but insurance companies are not entirely evil.

So, this happened to us, a few years back. It sounds like it might have been worse here, than your situation, but basically, it was the same -- 10-15 minutes turns out to be an astonishing amount of water. It went through the floors (tile and wood) in the bathroom and hallway, and down into the kitchen, and down into the basement. The light fixture/fan filled up to the point where it ripped from the ceiling and shattered on the floor.

The insurance company basically called in their version of ServPro. They brought giant fans, did an assessment, and ripped out the entire kitchen ceiling and some of the top of the walls around the kitchen. It was plaster, and could not be saved without the possibility of mold, even with the giant fans. (Do not just think it looks dry. MOLD.) They assessed the floors to make sure the hardwood wasn't going to warp and need to be replaced. They got to the scene super fast.

If you can afford to handle it yourself, then go for it, but I think our experience came to 3-4K (New England Area if that helps for cost analysis).

Since the ceiling had to come out anyway, we took the opportunity to put in new lighting, at our own cost, and the insurance company had no problem with my paying the ServPro company extra to handle that as part of the same repair.
posted by instead of three wishes at 5:06 PM on June 15, 2014 [3 favorites]

Hire the giant fans, and giant industrial dehumidifiers. You only need them for a day or two, because if the moisture isn't gone by then, you're bigger trouble anyway.

Can't remember what it's called specifically, but call up a couple of carpet cleaner and ask them who they recommend who offers that service.
posted by Elysum at 5:30 PM on June 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

i'm with three wishes above here. I've had landlords pull the fan/dehumidifier routine here and had it be totally halfassed and leave behind serious damage that was only noticed later on. You really need a professional inspection, or you could be setting yourself up for a nightmare. you need someone who deals specifically with water damage to come check out everything.

the fans you have wouldn't even do anything anyways, if they're consumer grade ones. the kind of fans they use to dry out this sort of thing in the areas that would even help put out thousands of CFM of air, not a couple hundred.
posted by emptythought at 7:31 PM on June 15, 2014

Oh, and if I didn't make it clear - yes, ServPro, or any alternatives recommended by calling up carpet cleaners (I am very keen on getting calling and getting recommendations from businesses in the same field, but are non-competing - saves a lot of hassle).
You definitely need the industrial, GIANT fans and dehumidifiers, from a company that'll turn up with water detectors.
You're essentially renting the equipment, because they turn up, rip up any carpet so the fan can blow underneath them, and go away for another day or two until all moisture is showing up as gone.

If there's water in the walls, they'll be able to tell you.
posted by Elysum at 3:13 PM on June 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

Thanks for all the suggestions. I ended up hiring a home inspector to come out and check it out. Things ended up being fine, but it was well worth the $45 for peace of mind.
posted by Happydaz at 9:12 PM on June 16, 2014

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