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7 Important Things to Do When Your Bathroom Floods

7 Important Things to Do When Your Bathroom Floods

Whether your toilet overflows or black water starts backing up in your drains, knowing how to respond to a bathroom flood in your Sacramento, CA home is important. Taking the right actions right away can limit property damage, prevent illness, and expedite the return to normalcy. The following are seven important steps to take as soon as things go awry.

1. Shut-Off the Water Supply

When bathroom fixtures overflow, the most obvious solution can escape you. In the heat of the moment, you might be tempted to run for your mop, grab a pail, or start laying down towels. However, the easiest and most effective way to minimize building damage is by first turning off the water supply. Nearly every water source in your home has a water stop or stop valve just below or behind it. For instance, you’ll find a water stop right behind your toilet and just below its tank. The stop valves for bathroom sinks are located at their base. They’re often accessed by opening vanity cabinets. You can stop the flow of water into your bathroom by simply turning this knob to the right. Once the underlying problem is fixed, you or your plumber can turn the water back on.

2. Make Sure That There Are No Electrical Hazards

Electricity and pooling water are a bad combination. Although it’s never recommended to leave plugged-in appliances near tubs, sinks, or other water sources, it’s not uncommon to find hair dryers, curling irons, and other electricity-powered self-care tools on bathroom vanities. Rather than stepping into standing water to unplug them, turn these appliances off at the main breaker box. This is an essential preventative measure to take before you or anyone else performs water damage clean-up or plumbing repairs.

3. Clean Standing Pools of Water

If you’re lucky, your flood will be small enough to remain contained on the hard, impermeable floors of the bathroom rather than leaching into your carpeting, soaking the underlying padding, and damaging your baseboards and drywall. However, even when larger amounts of water are released in a flood, it’s still possible to protect building features in the bathroom and in nearby areas. You can use towels or other absorbent items to stop the movement of water until you’re able to grab a wet/dry vacuum, a mop, and other clean-up tools.

4. Distinguish Between Potable, Gray, and Black Water

Before you go to work with your mop or other tools, take a moment to assess the type of water that you’re dealing with. Fresh, potable water is the water that comes from the municipal supply to your taps. Although you might not like the idea of drinking from your toilet’s tank, the water that fills this tank is the same water that comes out of your showerheads and your kitchen sink. You might have a potable water flood if your shower nozzles break, a supply pipe ruptures, or a faucet knob falls off. Certain impact events can even cause fresh water to come flowing out of cracked toilet bowls or toilet tanks. This is water that you can safely touch without serious risk of skin irritation or physical illness.

Gray water is a bit different. This is the water that goes down your drains after it’s already been used. For instance, this is water that’s been used to wash your hands or brush your teeth at the bathroom sink. Gray water isn’t exactly filthy, but it is far from clean. It has chemical residues from soaps and detergents, and numerous biological contaminants. Gray water floods might occur in the bathroom if you have a burst pipe beneath your bathroom sink or if you have a blocked or backed-up shower drain. Given the pathogens and other harmful agents that gray water might contain, flood clean-ups involving this type of water should be handled with care.

Finally, there is black water. This is water that you should never touch at all. Black water floods in bathrooms should only be cleaned and mitigated by seasoned professionals. Black water is the wastewater that moves through your plumbing system to the sewer. The only time that this water enters homes is when septic tanks back up or when the exterior pipes leading to municipal sewer systems are clogged. This water is typically rife with feces, fecal germs, urine, chemical contaminants, and more. Moreover, you cannot stop a black water backup by turning off the water supply lines at the backs of toilets or underneath sinks. If you have a black water flood in your bathroom, you can expect to see black water backing up in other areas of your home.

It’s important to note that there are times when the water that comes from overflowing toilets should be treated like black water. If there is urine and feces in the water from an overflowing toilet, you will encounter the same germs. The only difference between these events and black water backups is that turning off the stop valve at the back of your toilet will help.

You should also avoid trying to mitigate or clean flood waters that contain chemical drain cleaners. For instance, if you attempted to clear a blocked toilet or sink using a store-bought drain cleaning solution and now have water backing up into your home, leave the mess for a flood damage specialist. These products are highly corrosive and can cause serious burns to the skin, eyes, and respiratory tract.

5. Contact a Plumber

It’s generally best to call a plumber for flood resolution and repair. When plumbing issues leave standing water on your floors, their underlying causes are usually far more complex than soft, malleable waste that can be pushed through the plumbing systems. Sending a drain snake down into a fixture that’s already backing up can cause far more harm than good. More importantly, in these instances, do-it-yourself repairs may complicate the claims process.

6. Check Your Home Insurance Policy and Home Warranty Agreement

Don’t panic. Although floods are messy, frustrating, and inconvenient, they aren’t necessarily costly to resolve. If the source of your flood was a fixture or pipe that failed due to aging or normal wear and tear, this problem could be covered in full or in part by your home warranty agreement. More likely, your flood damage and the underlying problem will be covered by your home insurance plan. After you’ve done what you can to limit the spread of water, contact your provider.

7. Schedule Flood Damage Clean-up

Even with home insurance and active home warranty agreements that provide a reasonable amount of coverage, many consumers still attempt to perform flood damage clean-up by themselves. Unfortunately, cleaning up after a bathroom flood involves far more than mopping the affected area and spraying a deodorizing disinfectant. During floods, moisture becomes trapped within the air pockets of building materials. As a result, surfaces that look dry really aren’t. This is why water damage restoration companies use heaters, blowers, fans, and other air-moving equipment even after having suctioned flood waters up.

Failing to completely dry affected areas or not applying the right sanitizing solutions can result in mold development and serious health issues. In fact, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), mold spores can begin forming within just 48 hours of a flood event. To protect your indoor air quality and resident health, put professional water damage specialists on the job right away.

We proudly serve residents of Sacramento, CA and the surrounding communities. Our clients can turn to us for first-rate heating, air conditioning, and plumbing services. We also offer indoor air quality solutions, UV lights, zone control systems, and preventative maintenance plans. Contact Crystal Blue Plumbing Heating & Air today to schedule service.