What is Water Damage Restoration: Mitigation VS Restoration

Water damage restoration is the process of repairing a home or business that has suffered damage from water intrusion. Water mitigation and water restoration are terms that are also used to describe these services. Understanding the water damage restoration process and the difference between water mitigation and water restoration is important when dealing with water damage in your home or business.

What is Water Damage Restoration?

Water damage restoration involves several steps to remove water from a property, repair any structural damage caused, and restore the property to pre-loss condition. It begins with water extraction to remove standing water, followed by drying out wet building materials. Damaged items may need to be repaired or replaced. The final steps include sanitizing, deodorizing, and monitoring to ensure the restoration is complete.

The goal of water damage restoration is to quickly respond to water damage, prevent further damage, remove all standing water, dry out wet materials, and restore the property. Professional water damage restoration services follow established industry standards and use specialized equipment to properly restore a home or business after water damage occurs.

Water Mitigation vs Water Restoration

Water mitigation and water restoration are very similar processes, but there are some differences:

  • Water mitigation focuses on the initial emergency response immediately after water damage occurs. This includes water removal, extracting water, and taking steps to prevent further damage.
  • Water restoration encompasses the full process of repairing damage and restoring the property. This includes water extraction, drying, sanitizing, repairs, and getting the property back to pre-loss condition.
  • Water mitigation is an urgent first step, while water restoration is the comprehensive process. Mitigation stops additional damage; restoration brings the property back to normal.

The Water Damage Restoration Process

Water damage restoration involves several key steps:

1. Inspection and Damage Assessment

The first step is a thorough inspection of the property to determine the source and extent of damage. Category 1, 2 or 3 water classification is determined based on contamination levels. All affected areas are identified. This information guides the restoration plan.

2. Water Removal and Extraction

Standing water is removed using specialized water extraction equipment. Wet materials like carpets and padding are removed if necessary. The goal is to remove all visible water and dry out saturated materials.

3. Drying and Dehumidification

Equipment like blowers, dehumidifiers, and air movers are used to dry out structural materials and prevent further water damage and mold growth. Temperature and humidity levels are monitored throughout the drying process.

4. Sanitizing and Disinfecting

Sanitizing solutions and disinfectants are applied to eliminate bacteria and prevent mold growth. Any porous materials with bacterial contamination are removed.

5. Structural Repairs

Once drying is complete, any structural damage is repaired. Drywall, flooring, wood studs, and other building materials may need replacing.

6. Restore Contents and Personal Items

Furniture, appliances, electronics and other contents are cleaned, repaired, or replaced as needed. The goal is to restore items to pre-loss condition.

7. Monitoring and Completion

The restoration company monitors temperature, humidity, and drying progress until the property is fully restored. Post-restoration inspection confirms water removal and drying was fully completed.

Types of Water Damage

There are a few main categories and types of water damage:

Clear Water

This includes broken water supply lines, tub or sink overflows with no contaminants. Damage is relatively minimal.

Gray Water

Refers to waste water from appliances, sinks, showers and tubs. Contains some contaminants.

Black Water

Sewage water and toilet backflows. Highly unsanitary and can contain dangerous toxins, bacteria, viruses and mold.

Category 1

Clean water with minimal contamination or waste. Common sources are broken water lines, leaks, rainwater.

Category 2

Contains significant contamination from gray water sources. Has high potential for mold growth and bacteria.

Category 3

Grossly unsanitary & may contain sewage. Causes severe, even structural damage. Requires extensive restoration.

Restoring Different Types of Water Damage

The restoration process may vary slightly depending on the type and extent of water damage:

  • Category 1: Focus on water extraction and drying. Structural repairs are usually minimal.
  • Category 2: More extensive drying and dehumidification. Some porous materials may need replacing. Sanitizing is important.
  • Category 3: The restoration process involves not just drying, but extensive structural repairs, replacing porous materials, and thorough sanitizing.
  • Clear Water: The least invasive restoration. Focus on identifying and repairing the source of water, extraction, and drying affected areas.
  • Gray and Black Water: Require greater sanitizing efforts, more replacements, and structural repairs. Sewage water is highly hazardous.

The specific restoration process depends on factors unique to each water loss, like how quickly it was addressed, the amount of water, and type of materials affected. A professional water damage restoration company will determine the appropriate restoration plan.

Why Hire a Water Damage Restoration Company?

Water damage restoration involves specialized equipment, expertise, and standards that professional companies have. Here are some key reasons to hire water damage restoration professionals:

  • Fast response – They can immediately start the mitigation process to prevent further damage.
  • Proper extraction & drying – They have large truck-mounted extraction units and commercial dryers to thoroughly dry out materials.
  • Structural repairs – Many companies have qualified contractors to handle repairs like drywall replacement.
  • Sanitizing & disinfecting – They use professional-grade sanitizing solutions and have expertise in properly disinfecting water damaged areas.
  • Damage assessment – They know how to accurately assess the type and extent of water damage and what is needed for restoration.
  • Monitoring – They monitor temperature and humidity during the drying process until restoration is complete.
  • Emergency availability – Professional water damage restoration services are available 24/7 in emergency water damage situations.
  • Specialized equipment – They have commercial grade equipment not available to homeowners. This includes air movers, dehumidifiers, and truck-mounted extraction units.
  • Training & expertise – Water damage technicians receive extensive training and certifications. Companies follow established industry guidelines.

The goal is to start restoration quickly, limit damage, and bring your home or business back to pre-loss condition. Professional companies have the proper equipment, training, and standards to handle water damage restoration properly.

Cost of Water Damage Restoration

The cost of water damage restoration depends on many factors, including:

  • Amount of water – Large water losses are more extensive to restore.
  • Type of water – Clean water is cheaper than gray or black water.
  • Size of affected area – Restoring a larger area costs more.
  • Materials damaged – Replacing porous materials like drywall and insulation adds cost.
  • Structural repairs needed – Extensive repairs like reframing or rebuilding increases restoration costs.
  • Drying time required – Longer drying time means more equipment and labor costs.
  • Contents cleaning/replacement – Replacing flooded contents and electronics adds to the total cost.

Typical restoration costs fall into these ranges:

  • Minor water damage: $3,000 to $7,000
  • Significant water damage: $7,000 to $20,000
  • Major water damage: $10,000 to $50,000
  • Extreme water damage: $50,000 or more

Keep in mind costs depend entirely on specific details of each unique water loss. Get a detailed inspection and estimate from a professional company. Many offer free inspections and estimates after a water loss occurs.

Preventing Water Damage

While restoration is possible after water damage, prevention is always preferable. Here are tips to help prevent water damage in your home or business:

  • Regularly inspect plumbing for leaks and immediately repair any issues.
  • Keep gutters and downspouts clear of debris to prevent overflow.
  • Use overflow drain pans under water heaters, washing machines, dehumidifiers and HVAC units.
  • Install water leak detection devices in problem areas.
  • Have a professional inspect your roof annually and repair weaknesses.
  • Drain exterior water lines and shut off indoor water lines before freezing temperatures.
  • Keep fire sprinkler lines properly maintained if installed in your building.
  • Look for signs of water damage like loose tiles or damp spots on walls and ceilings. Address quickly before major damage occurs.

Key Takeaways

  • Water damage restoration is the process of repairing and restoring a property after water damage occurs. It involves water extraction, drying, structural repairs, sanitizing and monitoring.
  • Water mitigation refers to the initial emergency response like water removal. Water restoration encompasses the full repair and restoration process.
  • Professional water damage restoration follows established industry standards and helps get your property back to normal safely and efficiently.
  • Major factors affecting the cost of restoration include amount of water, size of affected area, contamination levels, and necessary repairs.
  • Preventing water damage through inspection, maintenance and leak detection is always preferable to restoration after water intrusion occurs.


Water damage can happen quickly and lead to extensive restoration efforts. Whether it’s a broken pipe, rain storm, or overflowing appliance, any type of water in your home or business requires prompt attention. Understanding the difference between water mitigation and the full restoration process is key. Water mitigation stops additional damage; restoration comprehensively repairs damage and returns the property to pre-loss condition.

Following established restoration standards, hiring a trained professional, and using specialized drying equipment provides the best outcome after water damage occurs. While restoration can repair damage, prevention through maintenance and leak detection remains the ideal solution. With some diligence and the right help when needed, water damage does not have to be a disaster for your property.