Commercial Water Damage Cleanup Checklist

Removal, Restoration, Build Back

Discovering a roof leak, water leak, flood, or busted pipe on your commercial property is definitely stressful.

Flooded Conference RoomWith every drip of water, you can hear the dollar signs adding up…

...creating a massive bill and tons of building repair work that you don’t really want to deal with.

And then there’s the possibility of mold and having to replace sheetrock, flooring, electrical, and more.

We get it.

That’s why we’ve put together this water damage cleanup checklist for commercial buildings.

Once you’ve noticed a water leak...

Start taking action with the steps we’ve outlined below to prevent further building damage after leaks.

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    Why You Need Water Damage Cleanup

    The reasons you may need a company to perform water damage cleanup vary.

    Maybe your building got hit by a hurricane or tornado, and your roof was severely damaged.

    Or your roof was torn off by wind.

    When you experience roof damage during a severe storm, your roof could have gaping holes that allow rain to pour directly into your facility.

    Or maybe you discovered a water leak inside your building.

    Or were hit with flood waters.

    Whatever the cause of water entering your building, you need to act fast.

    Here's where to start.

    Water Damage Removal (Phase One)

    From the moment you or your tenants or guests notice a water leak, it’s important to spring into action to protect your commercial property.

    These steps are designed to stop the flow of water and ensure no further flooding or worse damage happens.

    1. Stop the Water Flow

    The first step in water damage removal is to stop the water flow.

    Then you have to determine where it is coming from.

    Is the damage related to plumbing?

    Like a slow leak or burst water pipe.

    If so, turn off the water at the main shutoff valve for this building. This might be inside, but is likely out at the street.

    Or… the damage related to Mother Nature?

    In that situation, you might not have control.

    Hurricane Shrink Wrap Roofing

    If the problem is a leaky roof from a storm, you’ll need to have a contractor come out and help with shrink wrap or tarps.

    You might be wondering how to deal with emergency roof repairs.

    The fact is.

    If you have a sudden roof leak.

    This is really the only way to keep additional water damage from causing further problems.

    While these are just two examples, the point is you want to stop water from coming in with whatever it takes.

    2. Turn Off Electricity and Natural Gas

    The next thing you want to do is turn off the electricity and natural gas to the area with water damage.

    This can be done at the panel by flipping the breaker switch to the room or turning off the power to the whole building.

    It really depends on the level of water damage you’re dealing with as to which one you should do.

    If you’re dealing with a serious flood due to storms or rainwater…

    ...make sure to have both the power and any natural gas hookups disconnected temporarily by your utility company.

    This ensures the safety of everyone working to clean up the water damage inside your building.

    3. Call Your Commercial Insurance Company

    Your next step involves picking up the phone and calling your insurance company to file a report.

    Most commercial property policies state that you only have 48 hours after water damage to do this.

    If you don’t…

    ...they might choose to deny your claim.

    Insurance Claim ApprovedAnd that isn’t what you want to have to deal with.

    That said, it will depend on the cause of the water damage as to whether your policy pays for repairs.

    Floods from natural disasters are likely excluded, but those from leaking pipes could be included.


    Major storms often fall under flood insurance, which is a separate policy.

    While it is important to know the difference, you can work out all these details later.

    The main point is to report the claim as soon as possible before those 48 hours are up.

    4. Contact a Water Damage Restoration Company


    You want to get in touch with an emergency water damage restoration company that specializes in commercial property restoration.

    Call Water Damage Restoration Company

    They’ll send a crew right out to start the dry out process and work to prevent mold damage.

    An experienced water damage cleanup contractor should also provide ideas on what needs to happen next.

    Such as what to expect during the cleanup phase or anything specific to watch out for with your unique situation.

    Don’t be afraid to ask tons of questions during this step.

    After all, they’re the experts and water damage isn’t something you deal with everyday.

    You may find it easiest to work with a full-service building restoration company - someone that can handle not only water damage removal and cleanup.

    But can also handle roofing, interior restoration, total build-back if necessary.

    Water Damage Cleanup & Contents Restoration (Phase Two)

    Once you’ve mitigated the water damage as much as possible, you’ll move into the water damage cleanup phase.

    This is where damaged items and building materials are removed and the overall process is assessed.

    If you have filed an insurance claim.

    It's important that you document damage before cleaning it all up.

    Your water damage restoration contractor can help with this.

    1. Remove Damaged Items

    After the initial removal phase has passed... is time to start removing damaged items.

    Letting them sit in areas with standing water just begs to breed mold.

    Try to dry any soft surfaces like fabrics or upholstered furniture as best as possible.

    Toss out items that are overly saturated and might not fully dry out if left in the building.

    Take photos for your insurance company to show damage.

    Or save ones that they want their adjuster to inspect.

    Compile a list of all the items you’re either trying to dry out or have to throw out.

    Your damage restoration company might have ideas on how to perform contents restoration on some big pieces, too.

    2. Water Extraction & Removal of Damaged Building Materials

    Water extraction and dry out activities aren’t something you’ll do on your own… that’s what your restoration service company is here to do.

    It is important to realize that a big part of the water damage restoration phase is deciding where to move forward.

    That’s why we’ve added it to this checklist.

    Water Extraction From Carpeting

    At this step, if your carpeting or other items are deemed salvageable…

    ...your water damage cleanup contractor might use special equipment to try to extract more water.

    This is completely normal and likely depends on the magnitude of the flood or leak.


    They’ll also remove baseboards and cut holes in drywall to help ventilate the moisture.

    In some cases, wet insulation is removed and thrown away.

    Depending on the severity of the flood, mud might be scraped from walls or ceiling tiles thrown away.

    To put it simply…

    This is where the water damage restoration company decides what needs to be saved and what should be replaced.

    3. Contents Restoration for Other Items

    In addition to the building structure, you’ll likely want to attempt to save certain items inside your space.

    Furniture can usually be cleaned with special upholstery cleaner.

    Steam Cleaning Furniture for Contents Restoration

    Draperies and soft window coverings are easily laundered or sent to a local dry cleaner.

    And appliances should be evaluated by a professional to see if they’re safe for use.

    Water and electrical don’t typically blend together well.

    That’s why you’ll want to make sure there isn’t major damage to these items before deciding to salvage them.

    4. Building Dry Out & Dehumidification

    If you’re not typically a patient person…

    ...this part of the water damage cleanup process is the worst.

    The dry out process after a leak or flood can take weeks or even a month.

    Your water damage cleanup company will likely use fans, dryers, and dehumidifiers to keep the process going.

    Air Movers to Dry Out Floor

    This is true even if you live in a humid area where you can expect it to take longer.

    They’ll also use special tools to determine the exact time when the moisture level in the room is suitable to move forward.


    We agree that it is incredibly frustrating.

    But starting the build back process with wet materials can lead to mold

    Which can be costlier to repair than the initial leak itself.

    And that isn’t a path you want to go down.

    Building Back After Water Damage (Phase Three)

    Your building is dry and it is time to start working on a plan to get back to pre-flood conditions.

    Most reputable water damage cleanup companies should be able to guide you through this process or offer a recommendation of who to talk to in your local area.

    1. Stabilize Structure After Water Damage

    After a severe water damage event like a flood or major interior water leak...

    Your building might have suffered some structural damage.

    To remedy this, your restoration contractor will need to fix these problems before finishing out the building.

    Structural problems could include things like:

    • Roof damage that is causing leaks
    • Wood rotted from water damage or saturation
    • Shifting soils that undermine your building's foundation
    • Rusted or weakened building components like metal studs and fasteners
    • Leaning or damaged window and door frames

    2. Replace Water Damaged Mechanical & Electrical

    HVAC and other mechanical equipment may need to be replaced.

    Electrical wiring, conduit and outlets may need to be replaced due to corrosion.

    Water saturation in electrical motors or electrical infrastructure can cause irreparable damage.

    Light fixtures may require replacement.

    Local code may dictate some of replacement requirements as well.

    Interior Wall Window Electrical Water Damage

    3. Replace Water Damaged Windows & Doors

    Depending on the source of the leak and how deep the water accumulated...

    You might need to replace some windows and doors.

    Roof leaks or pipe leaks inside ceilings can flow down and around windows.

    When that happens.

    Wood framing or window components may swell or warp, rendering the windows useless.

    With any standing water, you may need to replace your doors.

    4. Repair Water Damaged Ceiling

    For roof leaks or plumbing in the ceiling…

    You’ll want to plan to make repairs associated with getting everything back to normal.

    Sheetrock might need to be replaced if there’s serious damage or evidence of mold growth.

    Any discarded insulation should be replaced with new material.

    Water Damage Restoration Drywall

    Ceiling tiles could need replacement.

    Any electrical to lighting or fixtures attached to the ceiling should be inspected for safety.

    In many cases...

    You will also need to repaint and finish the room.

    After all that is complete…

    Your space should start looking a little more normal.

    At least when you look up.

    5. Repair Water Damaged Walls

    Much like ceiling repairs, you might have to have drywall fixed where the leak happened.

    Depending on the severity of the flood and if there was standing water at any time…

    ...your contractor might need to replace all drywall starting at the ground and going a few feet up the wall.

    If the issue was a burst pipe, just the area around the issue should need fixed.

    After new drywall, you’ll need to have a contractor add texture, paint, and trim to bring the space back to where it once was.

    6. Replace Water Damaged Flooring

    Floors are one of the most commonly damaged items during a water leak or flood.

    Depending on your subflooring…

    You might have more or less steps in this portion of the build back process.

    OSB or plywood sheeting could need repairs if it doesn’t dry out within the appropriate time frame.

    Also, look for any warping or bowing before proceeding.

    Concrete subfloors should be just fine once the moisture level of the surface is diminished.

    Natural wood floors will most likely need to be removed and replaced due to swelling and buckling.

    Wood Floor Replacement

    Once your disaster restoration company has done this, they can be reinstalled.

    Tile and sheet flooring might not need to be removed if they’re made from ceramic or other water-resistant materials.

    Carpet and padding can be reinstalled if the damage was minor…

    ...and your emergency water damage cleanup contractor says it is fine to reuse.

    If not, then you’ll need to have these items replaced.

    Hiring a Water Damage Cleanup Company

    Finding the right water damage restoration company for your needs doesn’t have to be tough.

    While you’ll likely be in a rush to get someone out as soon as possible… still need to ask plenty of questions to ensure you’re making the right choice.

    Here are a few tips to help with the hiring process.

    1. Ask About Experience with Commercial Water Damage Cleanup

    There are a ton of water damage cleanup companies out there.


    Not all of them specialize in commercial services.

    Most cater to residential customers that require a different set of needs.

    Ask about certification by the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning, and Restoration Certification (IICRC).

    If a potential water damage cleanup services company says they do commercial but don’t have proof…

    Find someone else.

    2. Determine Cost for Water Damage Cleanup Services

    Some providers work by the entire job.

    Others have a running list of totals where each action or use of equipment means a separate charge.

    Before deciding on whom you’ll work with for damage cleanup…

    ...find out what to expect.

    This will keep you from dealing with unexpected surprises later.

    3. Ask About Insurance Experience

    Most commercial building owners want their insurance to cover the cost of repairs.

    Which is highly understandable considering the scope of the work that needs to be done.

    Finding the right water damage removal and cleanup team means using someone who understands the insurance claim process.

    If they don’t have experience with large loss insurance claims that deal with water damage…

    ...they’re not the right fit for your needs.

    Why Choose RestoreMasters for Water Damage Cleanup

    After a water leak or flood, RestoreMasters is here to help.

    With a vast network of resources nationwide...

    We can usually be on scene very quickly.

    We offer a wide range of water damage cleanup services to get your building back to previous condition.

    Restoremasters Contracting

    From stopping water leaks to starting the dry out process…

    ...we have the equipment, knowledge, and experience to get the job done right.

    Best of all...

    We’re experts in dealing with commercial insurance companies and have public adjusters to make the process easier.

    Simply put, RestoreMasters is here to help from the moment you notice the first leak…

    ...until the final build back restoration process is complete.

    We offer restoration services nationwide.

    Let us help take care of your water damage situation.

    Please get in touch with us right now to have an emergency water removal team dispatched to your location.

    Building Water Damage Pictures

    Our teams deploy quickly with water removal, water extraction and dry out equipment to begin the restoration process.

    From emergency response to total build back, we'll be with you every step of the way.

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