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Water damage experts come to rescue of area homeowners

Institution offers tips for cleaning up after floods

POSTED: March 18, 2014 1:00 a.m.
/For The Times

Clene Start technician Terry Brewer removes flooring damaged by water recently.

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As anybody who has ever suffered it knows, heavy water damage at home can be a traumatic experience. Furniture, family possessions, important documents and other items can disappear in a splash.

Johnny Loggins is part of a team of technicians who respond to emergencies caused by broken or leaking pipes, flooding or septic tank backup.

“It gets very emotional for the homeowners because quite often everything they have is under water and the ceilings are falling in,” Loggins said. “They don’t even know what to, so we actually are not just restoring the house, we’re kind of serving as psychologist, too, to help them calm down.

“It is a very exciting job.”

During the cold spells that hit the region in January and February, Clene Start was busy responding to calls about broken pipes. The company received about 50 such calls, though many had to wait because technicians were unable to respond because of the icy roads. One such call was at the assisted-living facility Summer’s Landing at Limestone, which suffered a broken pipe in the sprinkler system in its ceiling.

“The hallway was flooded, so they had to suck up all the water, and the ceiling in one of the rooms had fallen through,” said the facility’s Executive Director Stephanie Hunt. “They cleaned that room out first and were here pretty much daily for the next couple of weeks until it was done.

Unlike other types of home damage, water damage destroys continuously until it is removed. Plus, for every hour the problem isn’t addressed, the cost of repair goes up tremendously, Loggins said.

“Let’s say you have a little fire in a building, and you put it out, it’s done,” he said. “The water is not done until it is dry. It will continue to deteriorate whatever is in the building, until you get the water out.”

According to the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification, “water damage can be deceptive.”

Water penetrates into structural cavities creating trapped pockets of saturation. Undetected moisture will continue to cause damage. This damage, at a minimum, will cause odors. Greater damage will surface when materials delaminate, shrink, split and further deteriorate to where costly repairs are required.

Even more worrisome is the growth of mold and mildew.

The IICRC says time is of the essence. According to the organization’s website,, timely response and the careful monitoring of water damage, mold and other health issues can be prevented. If water damage has been present too long, mold will occur.

When a job comes in, the first order of business is to turn off the water’s source, which it often is not when a customer calls. Then a crew mops up as much standing water as possible. Next, the crew removes furniture, carpets and other personal objects before starting the restorative work.

Loggins and his employees then install dehumidifiers and, sometimes, turn the heat in the building up to remove residual water, before professional plumbers and construction workers can fix the source of the problem.

“What we’re doing is really cooking the building to get all the water out,” he said.

Finally, the crew cleans up before the homeowners move back in.

One of the more interesting aspects of the job is attempting to restore and preserve important possessions or documents for the homeowners.

“I love the preservation of things,” Loggins said. “Sometimes there are documents that exist no where else in the world, and we want to make sure those things are as well preserved as possible.”

Items are often first freeze-dried to remove moisture, before crew members copy information, in the case of documents, or try to restore the possession.

“(Water damage) is a scary thing for most people, but it really doesn’t have to be,” Loggins said. “It can be fixed.

“I always tell people that ‘this too will pass.’”

However, Logging does advise his clients about guidelines they can follow to prevent water damage.

Before cold weather strikes, he recommends weather-proofing all outdoor water faucets. If pipes are running through attics or ceilings, make sure they are adequately insulated. A broken pipe in the roof can leak water down through the walls and into the home, whereas pipes under the house and in crawl spaces tend to cause less damage.

Homeowners are often unaware of how many things are actually covered under property insurance plans, Loggins said. Many things from accidental stains on oriental rugs to heavy water damage to antiques are often covered because they are “sudden and accidental.”


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