AVON PARK – When you are away, a broken pipe or faulty toilet flush valve can flood hundreds of gallons of water into your home or business leaving a mess and a challenging cleanup problem.
Turner Furniture Manager Travis Turner learned recently that acting quickly after a flood minimizes damage to the structure and its contents. His store reopened April 11, five days after the flooding.
While Turner was in High Point, N.C., for a furniture trade show on April 6, a water sprinkler pipe near the ceiling broke in the back storage/salesroom at his store. Water gushed from the pipe setting off an alarm.
Law enforcement sent him photos and informed him that he had a bad problem with water coming out of the building, Turner said. The fire department turned the water off.
All-Brite Professional Cleaning Services tackled the flooding with dozens of blowers and dehumidifies, Turner said. The crew worked through the night on the water removal and helped the store’s staff and family members move furniture and individual pieces on blocks.
“Inventory wise, I will be replacing everything in the back room,” he said, estimating the value at $100,000.
The furniture didn’t appear damaged.
Turner tilted a recliner to provide a view of rust on underside.
“We are going to restock this back room,” he said. Then likely within the next month they will have a “salvage sale” to move the damaged items.
Turner gave credit for the water cleanup to All-Brite owner Paula Jonack.
Jonack began her business in Sebring 23 years ago with a focus on carpet cleaning, but in the past 15 years she has been adding equipment to perform water extraction and remediation services.
The Turner Furniture cleanup was one of the largest jobs here company has done.
Her crew used truck-mounted water extraction equipment.
“We probably extracted 800 to 850 gallons,” she said. They used 125 blowers, 15 very large commercial dehumidifiers and eight medium-size dehumidifiers.
The next day the baseboards were removed and they drilled about 1,500 holes in the walls to shoot air inside to dry out the wall cavities, Jonack said. Mold will grow between the wallboard and drywall if it doesn’t get open air.
Jonack recommends calling a professional soon after any water damage.
“Don’t wait and think you can dry it yourself because it saturates into your drywall so quickly,” she said. People think the water is on their tile, but the tile goes to the baseboard and the water is wicked into the wall more than people realize.
With thermal imaging equipment her workers can see into the walls without touching them, Jonack said. After locating the damage, they use a moisture meter to determine the level of wetness.
Jonack recommends checking and, if needed, replacing the toilet tank flush valve.
If you have to flick the lever to stop the water running in the toilet, it will definitely cause a flood, she said. Her company responds to many floods caused by toilets.
Also, she recommends changing the washing machine hoses after 10 to 12 years and/or turning the water off when not in use with quick shutoff valves.
They do a lot of cleanups when ice maker lines become old and brittle and fail, Jonack said.
After the Turner Furniture job she may invest in more equipment, Jonack said. “If a hurricane comes you can never have enough.”
Scott Clark of A.B. Fire Systems, Inc. said flow detectors will detect an exorbitant amount of water going through a water system such as from a fire sprinkler popping. A signal to their central station notifies his company or notifies authorities in the event of an emergency.
Clark recommends knowing where and how to shutoff the water to your home or business.
Residual dampness from flooding can contribute to mold growth, but it doesn’t take a major event such as a broken pipe to cause mold. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency offers information on mold remediation for schools and commercial businesses, with some information that is also appropriate for the homeowner, online at http://www.epa.gov/mold/mold_remediation.html
The EPA advises to clean and dry wet or damp spots within 48 hours.