Water pipe in ceiling broke - need advice

trh701April 25, 2006

I have a one story house in the upper midwest. Last December we had a power outage for 4 days and my water pipes burst (no basement so the pipe had been run through the attic). Of course I called the insurance company right away, however, was after hours so no one came until the next afternoon. Since I had about 3 inches of water in the laundry room and kitchen I was advised by my power company to have the power disconnected (which they did). When the adjustor arrived he made arrangements with an electrician to come look things over before having power restored. Also that night he had a cleaning company come and remove most of the carpet (only the ones that were wet). Once the power was restored (almost one week later) the cleaning company brought over their dehumidifier. About four weeks later the cleaning company and contractor assured me that all the moisture had been removed and the house was ready for repairs.

Now, here is my question - Since the water came from the attic and rained down into the kitchen and laundry room I am sure there must be water IN the walls on the first floor. The cleaning company drilled holes in one of the walls for ventilation (I am told that the other wall in the kitchen is solid). Although the major water was confined to the kitchen and laundry room they did repair all the cracks in the walls and ceilings of every room in the house. Everything has been re-textured and repainted. Now, in the kitchen and laundry room the paint is bubbling and there are fresh cracks. The adjustor and contractor assure me that everything is OK and that there is no water in the walls (I can understand this coming from the adjustor but I chose the contractor so I can't see why he would have reason to rush through the job and not do things right). The ceiling in the laundry room had been repaired, textured and painted and water spots came through so they put another coat of Kilz on it. The solid wall in the kitchen has rust spots coming through. The contractor told me this is because they used metal lathes in the wall.

They would not pay for the replacing of the other carpets, however, they will pay for cleaning them due to mildew. With that much water in the house for a week shouldn't they have to replace all the carpet?

We live in a rural area and have no access to the larger water disaster companies. Where can I find some good advice for these repairs? How can we be sure that in a few months things won't bubble and peel again? Or worse, that the house will be falling apart?

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Wow, no responses yet? As a victim of a mold claim gone wrong, I would fight for anything to prevent future mold problems. Years back when I had water damage for whatever reasons, the insurance company was only concerned with drying up the moisture and then covering the damaged walls with a can of Kilz and two coats of paint. Well, mold eventually started growing from inward out. Kilz and paint became totally insufficient and the nighmare began. My mold remediation company disappeared off the face of the earth before all of my furniture and possessions were returned. I lost every family photo, momentos, paperwork I ever had plus sooooo much more. Was one of the most depressing things I ever went through.

I guess it depends on your particular adjuster when dealing with what needs to be torn out or not. Last year I helped an elderly lady with a water leak from her dishwasher. The pipe broke and flooded about 2/3'rds of her house. The water was swept up immediately as people were home when the pipe broke. We were so fast getting the water out that it didn't have a chance to hit the sheetrock. Her adjuster was awesome. She recommended that her brand new flooring be completely ripped out and replaced. She knew that the chances of mold were good.

Some companies just want to take the easiest and cheapest way out. I hope you won't end up like me - post insurance claim mold. My insurance company had the nerve to want to charge me for additional deductibles to remedy the damage that should have been correctly repaired the first time around.

I hope you got some satisfaction and that your home is okay now. If not, keep fighting! Good luck.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2006 at 8:28AM
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It's hard to image that there isn't at least moist areas trapped in the wall. Kilz has nothing to do with whether or not they did a complete removal of the water. Kilz is a stain blocker. Kilz is used after they are sure they've removed all the water and you're ready to take the next step (texture and painting). The fact that the paint is bubbling is a classic sign of water behind the paint. The main idea behind water removal is to open up the spaces and force air into the walls and under rugs with a place for the air to go in and a place for it to come out (loaded with humidity). The longer you wait the worse the damage, with mold being the final symptom. The adjuster should have brought in generators and started the process of dehumidifing the house the next day. You have access to the internet. Take pictures (w/dates) of everything and try and find someone who will do a preliminary analysis via the net (at least initially). I think it's important that you put your assesment of the repairs in writing (be as factual as possible with dates, conditions, response by adjustor, condition of walls after repair) and send this to the adjustor. You want to give him the opinion that you're not going to be happy until the situation is made whole. It would be helpful if you had the results of the analyis to send along with your letter.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2006 at 2:30AM
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I agree garden-guy - document, document and document until you are so sick of documenting. Cheap easy fixes can turn out to be huge mistakes later on down the road. Insurance companies and adjusters all have differing opinions, business methods, etc. Procedures are all over the board. The homeowner has to fight for himself because usually, no one else will.

I learned so much from my mold claim gone wrong. Prior to that, I was naive - very naive. It cost me a lot.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2006 at 8:11AM
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I had a house that wan't occupied. The water pipe in the attic cracked and it slowly ran water into the house. No one was in the house so it ran for several days. When I arrived there was water coming out under the doors. Luckily I had a neighbor who knew that the fire department will help with water abatement (as long as they aren't on a fire call). Thye have huge vacuums that are used to pull water out of a structure. They removed the standing water in a few hours (no charge). I contacted a carpet guy and he brought out special fans that push air under the edge of a pulled back carpet. We put one in each room (the carpet guy lifted the edge of the carpet so the air would go in one side and out the other. These ran for a coule of days (until the carperts are dry to the touch). When I contacted the insurance company, they said it wasn't covered because I should have shut off the water to an unoccumied house. Because of quick treatment I didn't have any damage. I was worried about the cabinets in the kitchen and bathroom but they dried with no trouble.

You need to do the same thing. Your carpets are probably dry but there is probably water or moisture trapped in walls and in other cavities. You need to drill a hole in the bottom of every stud cavity and another hole in the top of the stud cavity. Gently push air into the cavity and verify it coming out the top opening. Buy a cheap humidity gage. Measure the humidity value coming out the top opening. When the humidity reading is the same value as the air inside the room, the cavity is dry. If there is water in the wall (humidy value high at the beginning of the process) you should guess that there is moisture in other cavities. Make a manifold and treat as many caities as possible at the same time. If it's a wall with insulation you should do those first (they'll take longer).

Digitally cameras are pretty available (hope you have one). Take pictures for your records and you can also post them on this site. If we could see what you're seeing, it would go a long ways.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2006 at 10:50PM
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