How to Start a Water Restoration Business

  • By: Monica Shulz

When nature brings its forces against homes and businesses, floods bring water into the home causing damages and if these disaster situations are left untreated these conditions can lead to mold growth (see the report from Center for Disease Control regarding Mold After Disaster) and long-term structural damage. Homeowners are looking for assistance in how to deal with the damage to their homes, business owners turn to companies that specialize in mitigation and the demands of the local as well as regional disasters lead to a high need for those who are willing to enter into the work of property restoration.

What Does it Take To Start a Restoration Business?

To answer the broad question of how to start a water restoration business we must first look into what standards, equipment, tools, and services make mitigation companies unique. For this article, we will take a look at some of the basic tools and principles that make water damage mitigation a unique skill set for a professional restoration company.
First, what is water damage mitigation? Mitigation [mit-i-gey-shuh n] is defined as the action of reducing the severity, seriousness or painfulness of something. In the pursuit of starting a water restoration business, water damage mitigation is the process of reducing the severity and painfulness of water-based disasters including broken pipes, appliance overflows and flooding penetration into homes or businesses. A water damage professional will have the knowledge, tools, equipment, and ability to identify the sources of the flooding damage, the extent of those disaster effects and the standards to mitigate those issues.

Key Questions for Water Damage Professionals Responding To a Loss:

1) What is the source of this damage (IE where is the water coming from)

2) What is the extent of this moisture on the structure (IE where did the water go)

3) What standards apply to the water damage mitigation situation we are currently addressing

A.What materials will need to be removed in order to dry the affected structure

B. What materials can potentially be dried in place or can be thoroughly dried in a timely manner

4) What tools and equipment will I need to succeed in my drying goals?

Standards for Water Damage Restoration Professionals

Water damage comes from many sources, they can be internal to the structure or from external origins such as large-scale flooding or disaster conditions like the hurricanes of recent notes to something as simple as a leak at the joint between an Apec Water Filtering. Standards exist which those who are starting a water restoration business will need to be aware of, the most commonly cited mitigation industry standard is the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification S500 Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Water Damage Restoration. This standard outlines the process, procedures and recommendations for qualified mitigation efforts including understanding how to properly dry various affected building materials in residential as well as commercial properties.

Sources of water according to the IICRC S500 and other publications are recognized as being in three categories of water.

• Category 1 which has often been considered “clean” water, originates from a clean source

• Category 2 which is referred to as “grey” water by those in the mitigation industry, originates from a contaminated source. This classification can also be made based upon sight conditions and/or the amount of time the water has been onsite (typically 48 hours)

• Category 3 or “black” water, which is highly contaminated such as from a sewer line or from groundwater.

These categories of water are important to those starting a water damage restoration business as there are standards and processes in place to protect employees, homeowners and inhabitants of a water damaged space from being harmed by potential contaminants. Time is of the essence when responding to water damage in a home or business.

Find more helpful information for Applying IICRC Categories of Water to a Job Situation from Restoration and Remediation Magazine
The IICRC also provides training and certification courses that assist water damage restoration professionals to acquire knowledge and skills applicable to disaster mitigation. These courses such as water restoration technician (WRT) or applied microbial (mold) remediation technician (AMRT) can be found directly through IICRC, online through training providers such as REETs Drying Academy or through local water damage and carpet cleaning restoration centers such as Aramsco Interlink.

Tools for Water Damage Restoration Professionals

Moisture Meters
Once water floods into a home or pipes break, mitigation professionals need tools to assist them in determining the extent of the damages to the residential or commercial property. The first of these key tools that are specific to starting a water damage restoration business would be moisture meters.
Grainger has composed a helpful article on the Types of Moisture Meters and their applications for water damage restoration and mitigation professionals.
Moisture meters come in penetrating as well as non-penetrating models, and a variety of modes for measuring moisture in water damaged building materials to determine the extent of damages as well as the saturation in these items. Non-penetrating moisture meters provide a reading of moisture in material through contact and are able to provide this reading without damaging the surface. Penetrating moisture meters provide a sub-surface moisture reading in a water damage scenario by piercing the top layer and providing a more accurate reading of the moisture percentage in affected residential or commercial properties.

See This Helpful Video from Extech Industries For a Basic Tutorial on How to Utilize a Moisture Meter in a Water Damage Mitigation Situation

If you are starting a water damage restoration business with a minimal budget then inexpensive yet effective moisture meters can be purchased at most hardware stores such as those made by General Tools & Instruments or higher priced options such as Delmhorst, Protimeter, and even Flir have mitigation tools that are common to industry restoration professionals. Many models have settings to distinguish between walls, floors and other structural materials such as water damaged concrete, tile, framing, hardwoods, and softwoods. Companies who specialize in water damage restoration business will want to find the equipment and tools that best fit their needs and are simple to use for technicians who may be starting out in the new skill sets.

Drying Equipment
With the understanding of the basic standards that are applicable to starting a water damage restoration business, the team can consistently work toward identifying the source of the water and following appropriate protocols for dealing with categories of water. Being armed with the basic tools specific to mitigation such as moisture meters we need to add drying equipment to our arsenal so that we can address the moisture in the residential or commercial structures. Drying equipment comes in many shapes and sizes, costs and colors, let’s review a few of the basics:

Air Movers
Air movers, which some refer to as blowers, are most often ½ horsepower (HP) units that push air out at 2,000 cubic feet per minute (CFM) or more. Units such as the [easyazon_link identifier=”B01DFW2BQA” locale=”US” tag=”51883236-20″]B-Air Vent VP-33[/easyazon_link] provide an economic and lightweight option. The [easyazon_link identifier=”B076HYGJM7″ locale=”US” tag=”51883236-20″]B-Air Ventlo-25[/easyazon_link] is a low-profile air mover that is a bit more compact which is an advantage when stocking equipment in a warehouse or transport vehicle. Both models would be a good addition to the drying equipment arsenal for those starting a water damage restoration business, as they are stackable, can be chained together via external outlets that are GFCI protected and the B-Air is positioned to at a competitive price point. Dri Eaz and Phoenix provide drying equipment for water damage restoration companies as well, many of which are a bit more expensive than B-Air but are also more traditionally the industry standard for mitigation contractors.

Extraction Units
When there is an excessive amount of moisture or water in a home or business, the first step to initiate the structural drying process which includes attempting to extract as much of the standing water from the affected areas as possible. Extraction can be completed through truck mounted extraction units such as a Hydramaster unit or a portable unit such as those made by Ninja. [easyazon_link identifier=”B00667H8CE” locale=”US” tag=”51883236-20″]Truck mounted extraction units[/easyazon_link] are also able to be utilized for carpet cleaning which is a helpful resource and revenue stream for those starting a water damage restoration business.

Water damage mitigation is a scientific process of identifying the source of the loss, the extent of the damages and then working to move the elevated moisture in the building materials through the three phases of water and out of the building. Air movers force air onto surfaces where water exists in its liquid form, the forceful air from drying equipment, such as the B-Air units referenced previously, kicks the liquid moisture from materials such as drywall and encourage it into the air as water vapor. Once that ambient moisture has been cycled from the building materials into the air we still need to capture that vapor so that we can move the water completely out of the structure.

Understanding the Science of Mitigation And Developing the Ability to Complete the Water Damage Process is Vital to Starting a Water Restoration Business.

Dehumidifiers provide the moisture capture component, the most frequently used type of machine for mitigation contractors is called a low grain refrigerant dehumidifier (LGR). The dehumidifier receives the water vapor that has been kicked into the air by our air movers, cycling them through a refrigerant process which actually freezes the water (the third phase), melts it internally and drains in out through a hose that is often set in a drain line. Options such as the [easyazon_link identifier=”B00AB24WSI” locale=”US” tag=”51883236-20″]Dri-Eaz F410 LGR 2800i[/easyazon_link]  is capable of processing between 130 pints per day (PPD) or more and will assist with getting the relative humidity in the affected area to 40% or less (standard drying conditions for controlling the environment). Dri Eaz and Phoenix are companies that provide a variety of water restoration professional drying equipment options that are standard to the property restoration industry. Starting a water damage restoration business will require learning how to identify sources of moisture, determining the extent of damages and being able to utilize the proper tools to remove water from the structure.


Water damage mitigation includes extraction, moisture metering, mitigation of damages through addressing the materials affected and setting the proper drying equipment to reach a dry standard for the residential or commercial project. Those who are looking to start a water damage restoration business are setting out on a fun journey that requires a process of always learning, developing a team that is capable of responding at all hours of the day and building an arsenal of tools as well as equipment that enable the company to address the needs of their clients.
The purpose of this article is to help you to identify the appropriate standards, moisture metering tools and drying equipment including air movers and dehumidifiers. Stay tuned for more information on this topic.