How Long Does Water Damage Restoration Take?

  • By: Monica Shulz

Water damage restoration can take anywhere from five days to several weeks.

Water evacuation and drying of the affected areas can be completed in as little as 72 hours.

However, the repair and restoration process can go on for much longer.

The time it takes depends on the size of the area affected and the extent of the water damage.

Quick water damage restoration is essential because if left to sit, water damage can affect the health of the building and its occupants. It can cause significant damage to structural elements like the foundation, flooring, drywall, roofs, etc.

It can also promote mold growth, which can be quite toxic to humans. In this article, we’ll take you through everything you need to know to navigate the water damage restoration process.

Assessing Structural Integrity

  • Identification of Damage
  • Expert Evaluations
  • Prompt Repairs

Identification of Damage

Inspecting the water-affected area is the first step in water damage restoration. During this step, a specialist conducts an inspection to determine the extent of the damage.

For older homes built before 1985, the inspection might take longer as experts need to run structural and asbestos tests to determine how safe the house is. If the test comes back negative, the inspection will commence.

There are three key things water damage restoration experts looks out for:

  • Water source
  • Water contamination category
  • Water damage class

Water Source

Identifying the water source helps the restoration company plan for water removal and future damage mitigation. The water can come from burst pipes, appliance leaks, natural disasters, etc.

Water Contamination Category

We can divide water damage into three categories based on the water’s source and the potential level of contaminants they contain. These categories are:

  1. Sanitary “Clean Water”
  2. Significantly Contaminated “Grey Water”
  3. Grossly Contaminated “Black water.”

Category 1 water damage originates from clean water sources like burst pipes, melted snow, or taps.

Category 2 comes from overflowing dirty sinks, washing machines, dishwashers, etc.

Category 3: Is the worst comes from overflowing sewers, floods from natural disasters, etc.

Category 1 Damage is usually the easiest to clean up since the water comes from sanitary sources. However, Category 3 can be hazardous to the health of the workers and occupants, so it needs specialized equipment and PPE to clean up.

This makes the repair and restoration more expensive.

Water Damage Class

The water damage class is a system we use to classify the extent of the water damage. It is based on the amount of water, the type of materials the water has affected, and the anticipated evaporation rate.

They include:

  • Class 1: This is when the affected area is only a part of a room or an area. The minor water damage is also limited to materials with little permeability, like plywood and concrete.
  • Class 2: The water damage affects a whole room and highly porous materials like carpets or chair cushions. Also, the moisture has wicked up about 12-24 inches up the walls, and structural members of the house have moisture in them.
  • Class 3: In this case, the source of the water damage is usually above, and the entire room is saturated with water. Ceilings, drywall, subfloors, insulation, carpets, etc., are all saturated with water.
  • Class 4: Class 4 is a severe case in which the water has had enough time to damage even water-resistant materials like brick, hardwood, concrete, etc. This class will require specialized methods to dry and restore the room properly.

Expert Evaluations

After inspections, the experts decide the best way to execute the repairs. This conversation includes things like the drying process to be used, structural members that have to be removed and replaced, etc.

Once they conclude, they document the damage, draw up a plan of action and the costs, and present it to the homeowner. This documentation can also be quite helpful when filing insurance claims for damages.

Also, if you’re wondering how long the process is goig to take, the contractors will provide an accurate restoration timeline after their evaluations.

Prompt Repairs

Once the experts have a plan of action, it’s best to start the restoration and repair process as soon as possible. The longer the water remains in the area, the more structural damage it will cause.

Combating Mold Infestation

  • Recognizing Mold Risk
  • Moisture Detection
  • Efficient Drying

Recognizing Mold Risk

The moisture and humidity from water damage provide an optimal environment for mold growth. In some cases, mold can even start growing about 24-48 hours after the water damage.

If left alone, the mold can lead to health problems like diarrhea, rashes, allergic reactions, etc. It can even aggravate pre-existing conditions like asthma.

So, the mold has to be properly rooted out during the water damage restoration process.

Moisture Detection

Proper moisture detection is important when dealing with water damage. It helps identify and ascertain the level of moisture ingress into the building’s structure.

It can also help in pinpointing the source of the water leak. In addition, moisture detectors help monitor and map wet spots during the drying process.

This way, no moisture pockets will be left to promote mold growth.

Efficient Drying

An efficient drying strategy is crucial to removing all the moisture and preventing mold growth. Depending on the type of damage, we can use a combination of pumps, fans, heaters, and a dehumidifier to dry out the affected areas properly.

The pumps will effectively get rid of the standing water, while the fan and dehumidifiers will dry the remaining structural members. Combining them effectively will reduce the amount of time it takes to dry out the building.

Also, measurements are taken periodically to ensure that the water-damaged areas are being dried out properly. If there is mold growing in the building, it may need further treatment to remove the mold, as only drying won’t be sufficient.

Finally, most water damage restoration services also offer a sanitation service to eliminate the lingering smells from water damage.

Salvaging Belongings

  • Addressing Loss Concerns
  • Specialized Restoration
  • Pre-Damaged Condition

Addressing Loss Concerns

Losses from water damage can be pretty expensive in some severe cases. In these situations, there will be some items you cannot restore, and you’ll just have to get rid of them.

However, there is a silver lining if you have proper home insurance. You should be able to file a claim on these items and get them replaced at little to no cost.

Specialized Restoration

Specialized restoration can be the difference maker when dealing with water damage. Hiring top-notch water damage specialists can reduce the loss while maintaining the building’s structural integrity.

Also, these specialists have a unique certification, ANSI/IICRC S500 Standard, which gives them unique insight into what it takes to restore water-damaged buildings.

Pre-Damage Condition

One of the main goals of water damage restoration is to return the property to its pre-damage condition. Water damage specialists know how to dry, sanitize and replace structural members if necessary to restore the property to its pre-loss condition.

Managing Financial Implications

  • Understanding Costs
  • Transparent Pricing
  • Collaboration with Insurance

Understanding Costs

Water damage restoration can be a complex process involving much more than just removing water. Restoring a house to its pre-damaged condition can take several professionals from different disciplines.

This can cost quite a lot, depending on the extent of the damage to your home. So, you need to communicate properly with your restoration specialists to understand the final costs.

Transparent Pricing

Transparent pricing helps consumers understand how much value the customer gets from water damage restoration. This is why a detailed plan of action is needed after inspecting the area to be restored.

Each item to be carried out by each water damage repair contractor is appropriately detailed with its associated cost. This way, there are no surprises in the final invoice.

Collaboration with Insurance

No property owner ever expects or plans for water damage. So, when it happens, insurance is a big lifesaver as it helps mitigate the costs.

Water damage restoration specialists are a huge help here as they can help you navigate the claims process. They can help you document the damage and restoration process and provide witness services so that you can file a successful claim.


Water damage instills fear and uncertainty in homeowners’ minds due to the potential devastation it can cause to a home and its belongings. However, it is essential to remember that professional water damage restoration services exist precisely to address these concerns and provide reassurance.

Through the expertise and specialized equipment of restoration professionals, homeowners can find solace in the fact that their damaged property is in capable hands. These skilled professionals possess not only the knowledge to assess the extent of the damage but also the ability to execute a comprehensive restoration plan.

Ultimately, the goal of water damage restoration goes beyond mere physical repairs. It extends to restoring peace of mind to homeowners. The restoration process aims to alleviate their fears and anxieties by demonstrating that their homes can be returned to a habitable and safe condition.


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