Facility Dude

How to handle water damage this spring

By Kate Donnelly
Mar 20, 2015

Facilities Management

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Spring is finally here, and as winter finally passes it takes with it all the snow that's accumulated over the past few months. The spring thaw is one of the most significant signs that the warmer weather is finally on its way, but as all that snow on your roof melts into water, it can also mean water damage.

How to handle water damage this spring Water damage can be a problem year-round, but in spring, all the melting snow makes it a particular problem. As you begin the process of de-winterizing your facility and preparing for the upcoming spring maintenance tasks, make sure you pay special attention to this problem and address any instances as soon as possible.

The assessment

As with nearly every building maintenance operation, proper and regular assessment is a key element in controlling water damage. While this problem is usually pretty easy to spot, spend extra time on windows and the roof area. Not only will these areas have accumulated a great deal of water throughout the winter in the form of snow, but they can also provide any stagnant water with a way into your facility and damage walls or your ceiling. Also, focus your efforts on kitchens, bathrooms or anywhere else with exposed plumbing while you're at it.

Follow your nose

Even if you don't see the telltale bubbling in your walls or ceiling, it's possible there may still be stagnant water building up. RealEstate.com noted that a visual inspection is important, but be sure that you don't ignore your other senses. Wet wood begins to rot, and that can give off a distinct smell. Similarly, anyone who's ever encountered stagnant water can tell you that the odor it gives off is as recognizable as it is unpleasant. Be sure you don't let a lack of visual evidence of water damage blind you to what your nose is telling you.

Take mold seriously

Unfortunately, in many cases, standing water can lead to mold. When it comes time to repair water damage in your facility, any mold - especially black mold - that you find should be a top priority, as it can pose a significant health risk to a building's occupants. If you do find mold, don't simply cover it up. Painting over a patch won't kill it, and may just make it more difficult to detect and treat. Any mold you find should be vigorously scrubbed with a bleach and water solution in a one-to-eight ratio. In extreme cases, it may be better to call in mold removal experts who can safely remove the unwanted spores.

Replace if you have to

You may not like it, but in some cases it may be impossible or unsafe to try and salvage mold-damaged structures in your facility. Wet insulation can crumble and deteriorate, saturated drywall can fall off and even floor tiles can be loosened all as a result of being saturated. If your water damage is due to a leak, your floor and walls may be largely fine - but the problem may be in your roof or windows. In the event of a burst pipe or a flood, be prepared to replace the floor, as carpet will mold and hardwood can bulge and distort.

Fix leaks

After going through the process of fixing water damage, you'll likely want to avoid having to do so again. Take the opportunity to check your windows and roof and seal any leaks you find. Unclog any gutters and downspouts as well - leaving them backed up can prevent water from properly draining off of your roof and lead to it accumulating instead. Any plumbing-related issues should also be addressed so that no pipes are leaking or damaged.

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