Water Damage in Office Buildings

Published: 27th January 2010
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Water damage can be can be costly in an office environment since there are expensive equipment and furniture that can be affected and important documents destroyed. Moisture in the building can also lead to toxic mold growth, which results to adverse long-term health risks among employees.

Regardless of the extent, water damage in an office building inevitably results to financial losses. Even when just a few workstations are water-damaged, the company still suffers a loss. Not only are the wet computers gone for good, they also have to be replaced with new ones.

Meanwhile, the affected employees are displaced and the office manager has to find a temporary space for them while their original work areas are being cleaned up. If no workstations are available, the employees' production for the day could be lost, too. Such a disruption in the office may hold up other people's work and cause project delays.

In terms of secondary water damage such as mold growth and poor indoor air quality, the natural consequences of such poor and unsanitary work environment are adverse health effects among employees that result to decreased office productivity.

Preparedness and Prevention

Start with a thorough inspection of the office. Identify the areas that are most vulnerable to water damage. Establish a water damage response plan that should include:

• Steps to shut down water supply lines quickly;

• Steps to shut down gas and electric supply lines safely (if necessary);

• Quick access to proper tools

• Emergency contact information for the local fire and police departments, emergency personnel, HVAC and plumbing technicians and a water extraction company.

Offices that are located in flood prone areas should strongly consider investing in equipment that is vital to quick recovery after water damage - a sump pump, large fans and an electrical generator. Office managers should also check on the availability of freezers, drying or freeze-drying services in their local area because water-damaged materials are usually frozen when they cannot be treated right away.

Recovering after Water Damage

Water extraction and clean up should start as soon as possible so wet areas and office items are dried within 48 hours of water damage. To expedite restoration efforts, office personnel should:

• Increase ventilation inside the office by opening windows, if it's not humid outside.

• Leave dehumidifiers running overnight but empty the water collection receptacle the next day when full.

• Empty filing cabinets to make it easy to move them and allow the flooring underneath to be dried.

• Remove wet floor rugs for cleaning and drying.

• Bring all materials to be thrown out to the trash room. Contact the Facilities Manager for assistance in removing large quantities of trash.

• Throw away wet papers/documents that are not valuable and make a copy of the important ones, discarding original copies only if it's not necessary to keep them. Spread out wet papers to dry.

It is recommended to seek the help of a qualified water damage restoration contractor to handle extensive water damage in an office building to guarantee proper cleanup and thorough drying of the area and prevent health risks and further water damage.

Leo Nov is an editorial staff member of RestorationSOS.com, a leading service provider for fire damage cleanups. To learn more about office water damage and flood cleanup, visit RestorationSOS.com

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