Recent Water Damage Posts

Deciphering water damage in your Missoula home: Clean, Grey, and Black Water

6/24/2021 (Permalink)

Homeowners inspect a leaking under-sink pipe with SERVPRO technicians. Whether water damage in your home or business is caused by clean, gray, or black water, SERVPRO of Missoula can make it “Like it never even happened.”

Water damage is water damage, plain and simple, right? Not exactly.

In the restoration industry, there are three categories of water as defined by the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Remediation Certification (IICRC): clean water, gray water, and black water.

Clean water, also referred to as Category 1, is water that comes from a sanitary source such as rainwater or snowmelt, a faucet, or a broken pipe or toilet tank, and does not pose an immediate health risk to a structure’s inhabitants. When Category 1 water losses are caught and dried out quickly, the structure is much less likely to require repairs. If left for 48 hours or more, however, clean water can turn to gray water and require more extensive mitigation.

Gray water, which causes Category 2 water losses, includes dirty water from washing machines, dishwashers, aquariums, or shower or sink drains. Water from these sources is considered gray water because it contains significant levels of contamination from bacteria, mold, or chemicals, and may pose health risks to a structure’s inhabitants. Category 2 water losses are likely to require the removal of soft materials such carpet pad, as they’re prone to bacterial growth. Gray water can become black water if left for 48 hours or longer.

Black water, or water from a Category 3 loss, comes from sewage back-ups or floodwaters. The contaminants found in black water (bacteria, mold, viruses) are known to cause diseases, and therefore Category 3 water losses pose serious health risks to a structure’s inhabitants. The IICRC says that black water causes “grossly unsanitary” conditions and for that reason, Category 3 water losses usually require the removal of all affected materials within a structure.

When water damage occurs, the source of the water determines several steps of the mitigation process, from how much personal protective equipment (PPE) technicians should wear to whether materials should be dried in place or removed entirely. Whatever the category of water, though, SERVPRO of Missoula has the tools to make water damage “Like it never even happened.”

The Danger Slow Leaks Present to your Missoula Home

5/13/2021 (Permalink)

bubbled plaster due to long-term water damage. Long-term water damage can lead to warped walls, discoloration, and mold.

Water damage caused by a long-term leak or other source of moisture accumulation over time is scary for homeowners for multiple reasons. In many cases, homeowners have no idea a leak is there, but because insurance is meant to cover sudden and accidental damage, claims for long-term water losses are often denied. Long-term water damage also regularly leads to secondary damages like mold.

As a homeowner, the best way to deal with long-term water damage is to prevent it. Like any other part of your home, pipes experience wear and tear, and regular maintenance and periodic replacements may be necessary to keep things running smoothly. Scheduling an annual or bi-annual plumbing inspection can help you figure out if any repairs are necessary. For instance, a plumber can check to see if your water pressure is too high or if your water has a high mineral content—both of which can stress your pipes and reduce their lifespan—and recommend an appropriate fix. 

If an out-of-sight leak does occur, how can you know? There are a few common signs to watch out for: your water bill is significantly higher than usual; decreased water pressure in your home; wet spots around sinks, toilets, or tubs; warped, discolored, or wet walls; a persistent mildew smell. If you can see or smell signs of water damage in your home, or if your plumber discovers a long-term leak, call SERVPRO of Missoula as soon as possible. Our technicians can be onsite within the hour to begin mitigating the damage. If insurance coverage is a concern, we also provide estimates so you know exactly what to expect before any work begins.

Spring river flooding in the Missoula and Bitterroot Valleys

4/1/2021 (Permalink)

High river water rushes around the base of a bridge. Springtime can mean spring river flooding – is your home prepared?

Spring has finally arrived in earnest here in Western Montana, and though that brings the joys of song birds and green foliage, it also often brings rain, run-off, and the risk of flooding. The Missoula and Bitterroot Valleys are particularly vulnerable to rising waters in the Clark Fork and Bitterroot Rivers, and while there is nothing we as individuals can do regarding water levels, there are things we can do to protect our homes against flooding:

  • Know if your home is at risk! FEMA provides Flood Maps on its website that can help you determine if your home is in a flood zone. Another great resource is your local news station’s online archive, where you can find out where floods have occurred in the past.
  • Know your coverage. Flood insurance is not covered in most standard home owners policies, and according to FEMA, nearly 25% of flood insurance claims come from outside “high risk” flood zones. If you have any reason to fear flood damage to your home, you may want to speak to your insurance agent about your options.
  • Be diligent about shoveling snow away from your foundation, and make sure water is able to drain away from it, as well.
  • Have a plan. Check out our “Emergency Readiness at Home: Evacuation Plan” and “Emergency Alerts” blogs in the Storm category and “Steps for an Insurance Home Inventory” in the Why SERVPRO category for more tips that can help in the event of a flood.

Emergency planning is an activity that can—and should!—involve the whole family. And don’t forget, if your home experiences water, fire, or mold damage, SERVPRO of Missoula is always here to help.

The Effect of Snowmelt and Hydrostatic Pressure on your Missoula Home

2/18/2021 (Permalink)

Snow melting on grass, with fallen leaves. Hydrostatic pressure is hard to see. Instead of waiting for signs of damage, protect your home’s foundation with preventative steps!

Another Groundhog Day has come and gone and as usual, Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow. That’s supposed to mean six more weeks of winter, and here in Western Montana, it looks like we’re getting every bit of it.

As hard as it might be to believe right now, all this snow we’re getting will eventually melt. Snowmelt, while an important part of the annual water cycle, can spell trouble for your house’s foundation or basement. The potential trouble stems from a phenomenon called hydrostatic pressure, wherein excess water creates soil expansion as it seeps into the ground. A house’s foundation then blocks that water from where gravity wants it to travel—downhill—and it so the water exerts pressure on the foundation instead. At greater depths, hydrostatic pressure combined with the force of gravity and the weight of the earth itself can begin to compromise foundations and basement walls, leading to fissures and leaks.

Obviously, there’s not much homeowners can do about weather patterns or the occurrence of snowmelt. But there are steps you can take to protect your foundation from the insidious effects of hydrostatic pressure. As is often the case, prevention is the best way to deal with water damage in your home; installing a sump pump is one way to protect against excess water finding its way into your basement or crawlspace. Then, regular inspections and maintenance of your outdoor water drainage systems can help ensure that clogs aren’t creating unnecessary additional pressure and sending water down unintended paths. Finally, if you do notice a crack in your basement wall or around your foundation, seal it immediately. And of course, if you see that water has made its way in, contact SERVPRO of Missoula so we can help make it “Like it never even happened.” 

How SERVPRO of Missoula makes water damage “Like it never even happened.”

1/8/2021 (Permalink)

Two stacks of SERVPRO air movers standing side-by-side.  SERVPRO of Missoula has the knowledge and equipment to mitigate water damage of any size.

When a pipe bursts in your home or you find that your A/C has been leaking onto the hardwood, your first instinct might be to throw down some towels and then let nature take its course. While the environment does seek equilibrium—wherein water molecules in a material will naturally evaporate over time until the material has reached the same level of dryness as the air around it—secondary damage can occur in the time it takes for materials to dry naturally, especially if you live in a humid area.  

That’s where the science of drying comes in. The science of drying is actually called psychrometrics, and it takes into account all three sides of the drying triangle: air flow, heat and dehumidification. So, if you also pointed a fan at the wet materials, you were thinking of air flow. If you turned up the thermostat, you were thinking of heat. But what happens when you push the wet air around without the right equipment, or inadvertently make the area more humid by turning up the heat?

At SERVPRO of Missoula, our IICRC* certified technicians are trained in the science of drying, so you don’t have to worry about the negative effects of improperly dried water damage in your home. We use professional grade fans and dehumidifiers to make sure your home is dried quickly and completely, and we continue to monitor the area until moisture is no longer detected.

*Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification

Damaged Water Supply Hose in Missoula?

12/14/2020 (Permalink)

A technician is installing new hot and cold water supply lines to the back of a washing machine. We restore water damage caused by faulty appliances in Missoula.

Washing machine washout

It was a typical Saturday morning. I put a load of laundry into the washing machine and went out to walk the dog. When I came back to put the laundry into the dryer, I noticed that the back wall was wet, and water was pooling on the floor around the base of the washing machine. Yikes! I wiggled the washing machine away from the wall and saw that one of the water supply lines attached to the back of the machine was blistered and cracked, and this was causing the water to spray and flood onto the floor.

SERVPRO® of Missoula came out and extracted the water from the room and set up air blowers and dehumidifiers to remove the excess water from the wall and baseboards. When the room was completely dry, they cleaned and deodorized the area and replaced the hoses on the back of my washing machine. In two short days, my laundry room was back to preloss condition!

Call Us Today!

If an appliance fails and causes water damage in your home or business, SERVPRO® of Missoula has a team of water restoration technicians on call 24-hours to mitigate the damage. Call us at 406-327-9500. We’ll restore your water damage in Missoula, “Like it never even happened.”

SERVPRO of Missoula is Independently Owned and Operated.

Preventing your pipes from freezing during a Missoula winter

11/26/2020 (Permalink)

A hose bib on a brick wall, with icicles hanging off of it. Don’t let frozen pipes disrupt your holiday season!

In genuine Montana fashion, the seasons have changed rather rapidly here in the Missoula Valley; nightly temperatures are now routinely below freezing, and as they continue to drop, the chances of frozen pipes in and around your home only rise. Because water expands as it freezes, it puts pressure on the material containing it. If the pressure becomes too great, you could have a burst pipe on your hands.

Luckily, there are a few simple steps you can take to help keep those faucets flowing during winter months. The first step is knowing which pipes are most vulnerable to freezing. Outdoor pipes, like supply lines to swimming pools or sprinklers, are the most vulnerable and should be drained according to manufacturer instructions. (Don’t use antifreeze in these pipes unless specifically directed to do so, as it can be harmful to both pets and the environment.) Outdoor valves that run water from indoor supply lines (like hose bibs) should be left open to drip and allow water expansion outward, while the valve on the indoor-side should be closed for the winter.

Winterizing doesn’t end there, though. Pipes along exterior walls, or in areas of the home with little to no insulation, are also at risk of freezing. Keep doors closed as often as possible to protect pipes in unheated garages or shops. Inside your home, open kitchen and bathroom cabinets containing pipes so that warm air can circulate, and consider adding insulation in crawlspaces and attics where pipes are present. There are a number of specialty products on the market for pipe insulation, such as pipe sleeves, heat tape, and heat cable, but even ¼” of newspaper can help protect pipes in freezing conditions.

When subzero temperatures persist, you can also take the extra precaution of turning your faucets to drip; even at a rate of 5 drips per minute, running water through your pipes can help prevent freezing. Then, if you’re going to be away from home for an extended period of time, be sure to keep your heat set to 55°F or higher. It’s better to spend a little extra on heat than a lot extra on property damage caused by a burst pipe.

Windowsill Water Damage in Missoula?

11/9/2020 (Permalink)

Water is shown seeping through the base of a windowsill, encouraging wood rot and water damage. Our water restoration technicians restore water damage jobs of all sizes in Missoula!

Rain Brings Water Damage

It’s that time of year again when temperatures drop, and rainstorms begin to roll through Missoula a couple of days each week in November. This is a good time to check the seals around doors and windows, clean out the rain gutters and downspouts, and make sure you have adequate drainage sloping away from your home or business to avoid water intrusion. Even a little water can contribute to costly repairs if allowed to remain untreated for too long. Fortunately for Missoula residents, SERVPRO® of Missoula employs some of the most highly trained and certified water restoration technicians in the State.

When we restore water damage, we use advanced technology such as infrared cameras and sensitive moisture detectors to measure the extent of the moisture saturation. When we arrive, we will remove the damaged materials, completely dry the damaged area, repair the damage, and clean, sanitize, disinfect, and remove any lingering bad odors.

Call Us Today!

SERVPRO® of Missoula  is available to respond to and size water damage emergency 24-hours  a day, every day. We’ll take care of your water damage in Missoula, “Like it never even happened.” For more information, here’s a link to another blog on this topic from our SERVPRO friends in Miami Beach!

Call us at 406-327-9500.

SERVPRO of Missoula is Independently Owned and Operated.

Sump Pumps: What they are and how they work for your Missoula home

10/13/2020 (Permalink)

A view of the anatomy of a sump pump, its power cord and control box, and its exterior battery. Sump pumps automatically direct water away from your foundation when it begins to pool under your basement or crawlspace.

From snowmelt runoff to river flooding to summer storms, groundwater seepage has the potential to affect Western Montana properties no matter the season.

Because water naturally migrates through soil, elevated moisture on the surface can spell trouble for crawlspaces, unfinished basements, and even basements with concrete flooring. When groundwater penetrates the floor of a basement, it can lead to mold or mildew growth, and if the seepage is extreme, it can cause flooding and damage to your belongings. 

So how do you keep your basement dry and mildew-free when those heavy rains strike? Installing a sump pump (or checking that your existing pump is in good working order) is one good option.

For houses at risk of underground wetness—which is over 60%, according to the American Society of Home Inspectors—sump pumps prevent damage by collecting that seeping groundwater and redirecting it to a discharge pipe pointed away from the structure’s foundation. To accomplish this, the pump sits in a pit dug at the lowest point of the basement or crawl space, and automatically turns on when the pit begins to fill with water. A one-way valve in the sump pump’s pipe, called a check valve, ensures that the water doesn’t run back. 

While sump pumps are not a cure-all for water damage in every home, they are certainly a viable option for homes in a number of climates and terrains. If you’re concerned about dampness or the smell of mildew in your basement, call SERVPRO of Missoula today. Our technicians can perform a dry-out and mold inspection of the space, as well as help pinpoint the source of water so you can safely move forward with adding preventative measures, and maybe even a sump pump.

Water Intrusion Prevention Plan in Missoula?

9/21/2020 (Permalink)

A backyard hose is left running, causing the backyard to flood and for water to flood the basement of a house. Water intrusion can become a costly repair if not addressed quickly.

Water Intrusion Happens

Have you ever had a funny feeling that you forgot to do something before you left the house? It happened to my neighbor. Her mind was preoccupied with getting to the store and running some errands, and she forgot that she left the hose running to water her rose bushes outside next to her house. She got home, and as she was putting away her groceries, she heard the water running outside. Uh oh. Two hours away from the house allowed a tiny lake to form in her planter beds, and the water seeped into the foundation, causing water damage to her belongings stored below. SERVPRO® of Missoula has been helping Missoula residents with water damage emergencies for over 40 years and offers these tips from the United States Environmental Protection Agency for preventing water intrusion:

  • Get a professional landscaping company to inspect your outdoor irrigation system and create an efficient drainage system to prevent water intrusion
  • Inspect the foundation and basement wells for leaks or cracks and make repairs when necessary

Call Us Today

SERVPRO® of Missoula has a team of highly trained water restoration specialists ready to help you with any size water damage emergency. Call us today at 406-327-9500. We’ll restore your water damage in Missoula “Like it never even happened.”

SERVPRO® of Missoula is Independently Owned and Operated.

The Aftermath of Wildfires around Missoula: Flash Floods

9/3/2020 (Permalink)

A flash flood racing through a state park. Wildfires increase the risk of flash floods for valley towns.

Summer in Missoula always promises long lines at the local ice cream shops, river surfers at Brennan’s Wave, and the treasured huckleberry season along our most-loved hiking trails, but it also often brings about two natural hazards that can cut down our summer fun: thunderstorms and forest fires.

Even on years like this, where the wildfire smoke we’re experiencing is coming mostly from neighboring states instead of our own, the damage our mountains routinely see from wildfires makes the Missoula and Bitterroot Valleys particularly susceptible to flash flooding. Fire changes the landscape through which it burns, greatly reducing or even eliminating ground vegetation. That vegetation typically plays an important part in helping to absorb water from rainfall, and with it gone, water is left to flow freely and rapidly down steep terrain. Fires also leave behind ash and debris which, combined with heavy rain, can create mudflows that may reach structures miles away from the original site of the fire.

Because the risk of flash flooding is ongoing – an area affected by wildfire can take up to five years to adequately begin to recover ground vegetation – knowledge and prior planning are the most important components of your family and your home’s emergency toolkit. According to the National Weather Service, “half an inch of rainfall in less than an hour is sufficient to cause flash flooding.” You don’t want to wait until those summer thunderstorms strike to think about flood insurance, and you should always have an evacuation plan in case your home is affected. provides more information on how to build an emergency supply kit, and in the event that your home is damaged by flash flooding this summer, SERVPRO of Missoula is here for you.

Filing an insurance claim for water damage in your Missoula home

8/6/2020 (Permalink)

Couple calling for help, looking at leaking ceiling. Don’t let water damage get worse before calling for help!

Storm damage, a burst pipe, a leaking appliance—when you’re a homeowner, any of the above will present a stressful situation. The last thing you need is to add the stress of navigating the insurance system, especially if you’ve never filed a claim before and aren’t familiar with the process. 

Luckily, filing an insurance claim doesn’t have to be stressful, and SERVPRO of Missoula has three steps to get you started:

  1. Call your agent. If you discover water damage in your home, don’t wait to contact your homeowners’ insurance agent. Water damage has the potential to get much worse the longer it sits, and your agent will be able to walk through the situation with you and advise on whether to file a claim.
  2. Take pictures. When damage occurs in your home, document, document, document. In most cases, coverage is contingent on the loss being sudden and accidental. Photographs taken immediately after the loss occurs will help the insurance adjuster assigned to your claim determine if the loss should be covered.
  3. Make a list of damaged items. Check out our blog post “Steps for an Insurance Inventory”* for more info on why this is important, as well as tips on getting started.

When you call SERVPRO of Missoula to respond to your emergency water loss, we’ll also help you navigate your insurance claim, and our project managers will work directly with your adjuster so you don’t have to be a go-between.