How to prevent water damage, mold after pipes burst - WFAA.com

How to prevent water damage, mold after pipes burst - WFAA.com

Link to "black water damage,burst pipe water damage,carpet water damage" - Google News

How to prevent water damage, mold after pipes burst - WFAA.com

Posted: 20 Feb 2021 12:00 AM PST

According to the Insurance Council of Texas, most home insurance policies cover unexpected burst pipes and the resulted water damage.

Over the last week, thousands of pipes burst in homes across Texas from the freezing weather. So what do you do now? Cleaning up properly is critical to making sure the busted pipes don't create even more issues down the road.

First, if you detect a leak, you need to turn off the water supply immediately then call a plumber. 

According to the Insurance Council of Texas, most home insurance policies cover unexpected burst pipes and the resulted water damage. That's why it's important you document everything. Take pictures of the damage and keep receipts of expenses to fix it and clean up.

Mold can start growing in one day, so you don't want to let water sit.

According to the Texas Department of Insurance, here is how you prevent mold:

  • Stop the water flow as soon as you can.
  • Dry the area immediately. Mold can start growing in one day.
  • Move wet items to a dry room or an area with fresh air.
  • Pull up wet carpets, padding, and rugs.
  • If you can't dry the area yourself, use a service that specializes in cleaning up water damage.

You can use towels and a mop to dry the floor or for more serious leaks, rent or buy a wet dry shop vacuum from your local hardware store to get all the water up.

Now that the suns starting to come back out, you may want to open doors and windows to bring in fresh dry air. Also, put a few fans around the wet area.

If the busted pipe is severe enough, you should call a professional water restoration company. If there is obvious wall damage, floor damage, or signs that mold may be growing, this may be your best option. Keep in mind, the more time that passes without treatment, the more those busted pipes will cause an even bigger headache.

If you do have to call professionals, your insurance may cover it. Call your insurance agent to find out.

Busted pipes, water damage, hotel bills: As power flickers on, costs loom for storm-weary Texans - mySA

Posted: 19 Feb 2021 12:00 AM PST

She was able to return to the apartment to get clothes, and one of the family's two cats. The other may still be trapped there.

She saw a "waterfall" pouring into her son's room. The building didn't have a roof.

The family moved to an Austin shelter for a night and then to a hotel that is being partially paid for by the Red Cross, Habel said. She is grateful because she knows others couldn't find accommodations.

The family was told they're not responsible for damages to their apartment unit, but now have to find somewhere else to live.

"They told us, 'just consider it a total loss'" she said.

Habel expects her insurance will cover about $6,000 in temporary living expenses and $15,000 to replace their belongings. Her friends have started a GoFundMe fundraiser on the family's behalf, which has raised several thousand dollars.

Friends and the community have stepped in to help while government officials and her building's management have been largely absent, she said.

"I'm overwhelmed with the prospect of starting our lives over again from scratch," she said. "I know there are thousands of Texans going through this right now. ... How are thousands of us going to try to find a new place to live at the same time?"

A few miles away, Andrew Reimers' apartment lost power and heat Monday. On Tuesday, a pipe burst or sprinkler system malfunctioned and sent water pouring through the ceiling of his kitchen and living room. Reimers raced to drag his belongings into the hallway. In the dark with no power, it was like a scene from a post-apocalyptic movie, he said.

With his building's management offsite because of the icy conditions, Reimers was not sure when his unit will be dried, though he heard emergency maintenance workers were starting to go through to check for water damage Thursday.

"When the power finally comes back on I'm looking at the beginning of the process of my whole apartment having to be renovated," he said.

Because of the pandemic, his office is closed; he had been working from an apartment which is now unusable. His insurance will cover $2,000 in temporary living expenses and $10,000 in property damage, he said.

For now, he's "transient." The power to his unit was restored, at least temporarily, Wednesday night.

Abbott has urged residents to contact their insurers and landlords and to save receipts in case federal assistance becomes available. He has requested a major disaster declaration that would let Texans apply for funding to repair damaged property.

He told homeowners they could turn off the water supply to their house to prevent damage from a pipe that might "suddenly start spewing water" as ice melts.

Thierry urged people to do the same but said it took two public works' employees digging in her yard to find the valve to shut off her water; it's not "something that your homeowner can do alone," she said. She said she was sharing her experience to advocate for the Texans she represents who are in similar circumstances.

The Texas Department of Insurance, which did not respond to a request for comment, has posted tips like to take pictures of storm damage and to save receipts for short-term repairs and evacuation expenses.

Camille Garcia, a spokesperson for the Insurance Council of Texas, said Texas was already a high-risk state because of all the natural disasters the region faces, from hail storms to hurricanes. She expects to see hundreds of thousands of claims arise — not only for homeowners as pipes begin to unfreeze and break, but also renters, business owners and car owners.

Garcia said the claims process has already been expedited during the pandemic because of the increase of video meetings, which allow adjusters to see more people in a day than if they traveled door to door. She added that after the storm, companies will bring in people from out of state to supplement Texas's base of catastrophe adjusters.

"This recovery process is going to take a long time," Garcia said. "We're used to regional events where … like when Hurricane Harvey hit, we had contractors from Dallas coming down and vice versa. Right now, the entire state is impacted. So all people resources — contractors, repair companies, plumbers — they're really stretched to capacity."

While some Texans have begun to wade through the cost of home repairs, others are still displaced — having fled to hotels to escape darkened or cold houses. Most said they are grateful to have found accommodations in quickly filling hotels, but were concerned about the accumulating expenses.

The financial worries come about a year after the start of a global pandemic that decimated many people's incomes and claimed thousands of jobs. The storm has also displaced worries about maintaining social distancing for some desperate to find a place with heating or power.

In Killeen, Marline Fry and her husband and two children were able to find a room at a Hampton Inn, costing $140 a night, after the temperature in their home started dropping. They grabbed microwavable meals from Walmart and found a Chinese restaurant that was open for takeout. On Wednesday the water cut out until Thursday.

Fry makes a decent living as a licensed clinical social worker, but said she was still counting costs — subtracting each expense from the $8,000 tax refund she expects is coming. She thinks they'll have to throw out all the perishable food at their home that has spoiled, and is hoping no pipes burst.

"I'm trying to push that out of my head as much as possible because right now I'm just concentrating on things like, 'OK, is it time now to go and get some more snow to fill up the bathtub?'" she said Wednesday.

Her insurance company said it likely would not reimburse her for the hotel, but would cover damages to her house. The family returned home Friday and haven't seen any burst pipes.

Margaret Mills, a graduate student who lives in a poorly insulated travel trailer in Lubbock, was initially hesitant to get a hotel room "because that money could be going to my food," she said.

Starting Sunday night, she woke up every hour to check on the water she left dripping as temperatures dropped to below freezing. But when her alarm rang at 7 a.m. Monday nothing came out of the faucet. Her water pipes had frozen. It was the breaking point for her.

"It was a tough decision to make, but I realized I was just so uncomfortable this weekend that I couldn't have made it and still focus on my classes," said Mills, 24. "I just tried to find the most reasonably priced hotel" — a Comfort Suites that costs $62 or less a night.

Ashlee Hunter, a 21-year-old graduate student living in Houston, is concerned her electricity bills might go up — a prospect energy experts have said some residents could face. She can't afford that, she said. She hasn't been able to work as much as a tutor since school restarted, and she has had limited access to tap water —if any liquid comes out it's brown. She's spent part of the week driving around to get a stable cell signal to call her family in South Texas.

"I can't afford anything else to happen right now, and I'm sure millions of people are in the same spot or even worse," she said.

"I don't have a lot of money to work with already. If any of my stuff gets ruined — I'm already thinking about the fact that I just lost over $100 worth of food in my freezer."

Marissa Martinez contributed reporting.

Disclosure: The Insurance Council of Texas has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune's journalism. Find a complete list of them here.

The Texas Tribune is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

How to avoid mold while cleaning up winter storm damage - KTRK-TV

Posted: 23 Feb 2021 12:00 AM PST

SPRING, Texas (KTRK) -- The weather may be getting warmer, but millions of Texans are still cleaning up damage from last week's winter storm.

Anthony Cruz, owner of AdvantaClean in Spring, is sharing his tips to avoid mold and moisture damage in the cleanup process.


First, once you or a plumber have fixed a broken pipe, have one person turn on the water outside and one person walk through the house. Go room to room to look for leaks, and if you see water, have the person outside turn off the valve immediately.

Once the pipe is fixed, remove wet carpets as soon as possible. They will start to smell, especially now that the temperatures are rising. Hardwood floors may also start to buckle depending on the amount of water on them.

Anything that is porous, including drywall and insulation, will also need to be removed because moisture will set in.

You can identify mold by its musty smell. You'll also notice spotting in places that took on water. If you can't find the source or the spot where the mold is originating, you'll need to call a mold assessment consultant to test your home.


A mistake many homeowners make is repairing the damage too soon. It's important to not put down new carpet or put up new drywall too soon after the leak because moisture can still be trapped in the walls or floor. You need to make sure everything is fully dried out, or you could face even more extensive repairs in a few weeks or months.

The final tip is document everything. Insurance companies may ask to see everything, including the broken piece of pipe, the drywall or the carpet before it's thrown away.

If you want to learn more about AdvantaClean, visit their website.

Copyright © 2021 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.

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