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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

Can SERVPRO Save Wall Insulation after Flood Damage?

10/16/2020 (Permalink)

Insulation is easily damaged by water. We can tell if the insulation is salvageable.

Santa Monica Homeowners Concerned about Flood Damage to Insulation

The insulation in your Santa Monica home is probably not something you think about often. Yet it is a critical part of your home’s structure and necessary for keeping it warm in winter and cooler in summer. Just like any other space in your home, insulation can need to be repaired or replaced after a disaster.

If your Santa Monica home suffers flood damage, water can seep into the walls and damage the insulation. Checking for water damage inside the walls is an essential part of the SERVPRO water remediation process.

What happens when insulation gets wet?

Before working through this question, we need to understand the various types of insulation:

  • Spray foam insulation is a rigid, white foam that creates an airtight seal within the walls
  • Fiberglass insulation is made of thousands of tiny glass strands
  • Cellulose insulation is often made of recycled newspaper and consists of lots of loose, gray strands of material

Each type of insulation reacts differently to water. 

Spray foam insulation acts as a water barrier and so is not likely to get water damaged. However, plaster, wood, or other building materials around it can still get damaged. Fiberglass insulation is quite durable, being made of fine glass strands. Cellulose insulation is the most susceptible to water damage, and we cannot usually salvage it.

What are the risks of wet insulation?

Wet insulation causes several problems:

  • Damp insulation cannot do its job effectively, which impacts both your comfort and the energy efficiency of your home
  • Soaked materials can lead to warping or other damage inside wall cavities
  • The presence of moisture, and possibly bacteria depending on the source of the water, creates a rich breeding ground for fungus

How does SERVPRO assess insulation after a flood?

You cannot usually see your insulation – so it is easy to forget it is there. However, SERVPRO of Santa Monica / Venice Beach understands the importance of assessing every aspect of your home after flood damage, including inside the walls.

We have several tools available we can use to help us assess the state of the insulating materials: 

  • Penetrating and non-penetrating moisture meters help us compute the amount of water present in various materials
  • Thermo-hygrometers measure the humidity in the air
  • Thermal imaging allows us to trace the movement of moisture through building materials

We can also look for visible signs of damage, such as a water line on a wall. Once we open the wall cavity, we can see whether insulation materials are wet.

 Can SERVPRO dry insulation?

Sometimes, it is possible to dry fiberglass insulation after water damage in Santa Monica. However, there is always the risk of contamination from bacteria, microbes, and even sewage in flood damage situations, so it is better to dispose of it. However, we always aim to repair property rather than replace it, so if it is possible to dry the insulation, we will do so.

Cellulose insulation is difficult to save due to its plant matter nature, and we will dispose of it for you.

What about the wall cavity?

Once we have removed the damp insulation, we need to dry inside the wall cavity. Trapped moisture could lead to structural damage or mold growth, so drying is vitally important. We use air movers, fans, dehumidifiers, and sometimes portable heaters to dry inside wall cavities.

 In some cases, we might need to drill small holes through the wall or the baseboards to increase airflow inside the cavity and speed up the drying process.

We monitor moisture levels during drying to ensure the cavity is completely dry before replacing the insulating material.

We also clean and dry the surrounding area, including the floors and ceilings, if necessary. 

Will SERVPRO put your house back the way it was?

We always aim to leave your home, “Like it never even happened.” That includes repairing any damage to the wall cavities, supports, or baseboards, and re-painting or re-hanging wallpaper if needed. If our Franchise team does not have someone who specializes in a specific task, such as re-decorating, we will always hire a trusted local contractor and supervise them.

We also take care of deodorizing your home because we understand that leftover damp smells from flood damage are very unpleasant. We have air scrubbers, wet and thermal foggers, and odor-eating pellets on hand to remove foul odors.

How can you protect your insulation in the future?

Unfortunately, by the time a wall gets wet, you cannot do much for the insulation. However, there are procedures you can take to secure your home, and therefore your insulation, from floods. Ensure the door and window frames are in good order and keep your roof in a good state of repair. Deal with damaged pipes, down-pipes, and gutters immediately. You can also seal basement, attic, and crawl space walls to guard against moisture.

Should you be concerned about flood damage to your insulation, call SERVPRO of Santa Monica / Venice Beach at (310) 395-9050.

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