The story of potentially expensive water damage restored quickly

In early November PuroClean Disaster Response was called by one of our insurance company partners to help a homeowner in Boulder. They had experienced some water damage and needed help to restore the water damage to to make sure any mold was also eliminated.

This home suffered damage due to a slow leak behind the kitchen sink cabinet. Water spread through that wall and down into the basement room beneath the kitchen. The slow leak, hidden inside a wall behind a cabinet did plenty of damage before it was discovered. The source of the problem was identified as a leak in the sink drain line. The drain line had been improperly installed leading to corrosion and ultimately a rupture.

According to the Uniform Plumbing Code a drain line needs to be pitched at 1/4inch per foot. There is a lot of discussion about this on various web sites such as; Do it Yourself. This pitch facilitates a good flow of waste water through the drain line and good venting. Without that pitch water can sit in the pipe which will lead to corrosion and leaks given time. This line had nearly zero pitch which inevitably failed and started leaking.

Leaks like this can often go undetected for a long time. The leak is inside a wall, the wall is covered by a cabinet so it may often remain unnoticed until evidence shows up elsewhere, in an adjacent room or below in a basement. Mold, by it’s nature, starts to grow in about 2-3 days for the earliest varieties and as time goes on more and more varieties start to appear. So even though the homeowner discovered the issue fairly quickly the water had still ran long enough to create significant water damage to drywall and to allow mold to generate in the walls behind the sink and down into the basement store room below the kitchen.

The Kitchen as we first see it before work begins

Once they noticed the issue the homeowners reacted quickly and contacted their insurance company. We are a preferred vendor and part of that companies national vendor program so they brought us in to dry the structure, eliminate the mold and restore the home to pre-damaged state. Fortunately these folks had good coverage and their homeowners insurance covered the damage less the deductible.

We arrived quickly and scoped the situation; it was obvious that this would be a big job. Mold was the big concern, the leak had been fixed and the remaining water had evaporated so that left some damaged drywall and mold on the walls and the framing members. Unfortunately the damage was in the kitchen behind the cabinets as well as in the basement store room. In the kitchen we would have to get the cabinets out of the way, remove the countertop, remove the sink and the dishwasher.

Mold needs four things to grow: food, moisture, the right temperature and oxygen. Drywall and wood are excellent sources of food and with the leak, all the other elements were present so mold started to grow and spread inside the walls in the kitchen and the basement room. This link to our web site will provide more information on mold and how to eliminate it. The only thorough and complete way to eliminate mold is to remove it. That meant that we needed to remove all of the contaminated drywall in the kitchen and in the basement storage room.

Containment barrier access wall leading into the kitchen

Step one in any mold remediation job for us is to establish containment area to ensure the mold we are eliminating doesn’t spread into the rest of the house. We erect plastic barrier walls to enclose the affected space and then establish a negative air pressure in that space using our HEPA air scrubbers. That negative air pressure ensures that any leaks in the plastic barrier or the opening as we enter and exit will pull air into the effected space rather than allow contaminated air to escape.

Containment barrier in the basement store room

We erected containment around the kitchen and the storage room in the basement and started the remediation process. Remediation in the basement was fairly straightforward since the space was open and the affected walls were easily accessible.

 

To get to the mold in the kitchen walls we had to get behind the cabinets. That meant the cabinets had to come out. We had to remove enough of the cabinets to be certain we could identify the extent of the infestation and get it cleaned up. The sink, dishwasher and three of the kitchen cabinets had to be removed to allow us access. In a worst case scenario that would mean demolishing the counter top and the cabinets but one of the commitments we make to our customers is to minimize the damage and find alternate approaches rather than demolition.

In this case; the kitchen cabinets were a European style design which means they have adjustable feet. The feet are used to level the cabinets at a common height.  This adjustability allowed us to lower the cabinets and slide them out from under the counter top. This stroke of luck saved the countertop and the cabinets from replacement which saved the customers and their insurance company a lot of money. Not to mention the stress associated with having to find matching replacement cabinets and counters.

Sink and Dishwasher removed, cabinets removed. The space is ready for remediation and restoration

Once the barriers were in place we could start the remediation process. In the kitchen we removed the sink and dishwasher then lowered the sink cabinet and corner cabinet to allow us to slide them out. We could then see the extent of the mold. Fortunately the water leak hadn’t traveled horizontally but went vertically down through the subfloor into the basement walls. This minimized the damage in the kitchen.

We can see the extent of the damage, this whole wall will have to be opened up, cleaned then replaced.

 

 

Once we had the cabinets out of the way we could access the walls and proceed with our normal mold remediation process which calls for:
• Removal and disposal of contaminated drywall
• Hepa vacuuming the affected space and frame
• Treatment with a green biocide
• Final HEPA vacuum

Mold remediation begins

 

Finally we replaced the drywall that had been removed and disposed of. We reinstalled the cabinets, installed the sink and dishwasher. The last step was to clean the entire space and remove the barrier.

In the span of three days we disassembled the kitchen, remediated mold and water damage, replaced the kitchen elements and left the homeowners with their kitchen just as it had been prior to any of the damage.

The methods saved them and the insurance companies thousands since cabinets and counter tops didn’t have to be replaced.

We provide this level of care and response to water damage and mold problems throughout Boulder, Lafayette, Erie, Firestone, Louisville, Broomfield, Longmont, Berthoud, Loveland and north Denver suburbs.