What to Do After a Major Water Leak or Indoor Flood

It's happened. There's water everywhere—in your walls, under your carpets and soaking into your belongings. Whether caused by a burst pipe, a broken water heater or a flood, there are things you can do immediately to salvage belongings and limit damage or loss.

1. Stop the Water

If water is coming from inside your home, from a burst pipe or water heater malfunction, shut off the main water valve immediately. It’s a good idea to make sure everyone in your home knows where the shutoff valve is located.

2. Turn Off the Utilities

In a serious water event, turning off the power or natural gas might be necessary to ensure the safety of yourself and your family. In the case of a minor water leak or drip, there probably isn’t a need to shut off the utilities.

3. Prevent Electrocution

Do not use any electrical appliances if your carpet or flooring is wet. Use a wet vacuum to remove water, but check the manufacturer's instructions before starting.

4. Use Fans to Circulate Air

Encourage drying by strategically placing fans to effectively circulate air. This is especially important in the first 24-48 hours after an indoor flood.

5. Get Water Out Quickly

Fast and safe action on your part can prevent further damage, help you save more of your belongings and minimize the time and expense of repairs. Clean up as much water as possible by mopping or blotting with towels.

6. Get Property to a Dry Location

Move wet belongings and furniture to a dry area. Put furniture on blocks or slide a square of aluminum foil under furniture legs to prevent the wood stain from bleeding into carpeting.

7. Remove Area Rugs from the Floor

The dyes in carpets can stain flooring, carpeting and wood floors.

8. Do Not Lift Tacked Down Carpet

Carpets can shrink after they’ve become wet and left to dry out. If you remove the tacks from wet wall-to-wall carpet, it will probably shrink after it dries out and no longer be wall-to-wall carpet. Consult a carpet specialist for help.

9. Wash Your Clothes

Clean your clothing, linens and other washables that have been soaked as soon as possible.

10. Wipe Excess Water from Furniture

Open drawers and cabinet doors for faster drying. Spread out books to speed drying and prevent further damage.

11. Watch Out for Debris and Pests

If water is flowing in your house there may be dislodged materials such as nails. Snakes and other vermin may seek shelter in your home after a storm or flood, so watch out.

12. File a Claim as Soon as Possible.

The sooner you file a claim to report damage, the sooner Safeco can help you get your home and life back to normal.

13. Don’t Throw Anything Out

Don’t throw out damaged belongings, especially expensive ones. A claims adjuster may need to inspect them. Also, make a thorough list of stuff that was water damaged as soon as you can. This will help us process your claim faster. It helps to document damage with photos and video.

14. Save Receipts

Save all receipts for any rental equipment, temporary repairs or payments to professional services.

Ask your local Safeco agent for more information about preventing water damage in your home.

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© 2014 Liberty Mutual Insurance, 175 Berkeley Street, Boston, Massachusetts, 02116

Insurance is offered by Safeco Insurance Company of America and/or its affiliates, with their principal place of business at 175 Berkeley Street, Boston, Massachusetts, 02116. This website provides a simplified description of coverage. Nothing stated herein creates a contract. All statements made are subject to the provisions, exclusions, conditions and limitations of the applicable insurance policy. Please refer to actual policy forms for complete details regarding the coverage discussed. If the information in these materials conflicts with the policy language that it describes, the policy language prevails. Coverages and features not available in all states. Eligibility is subject to meeting applicable underwriting criteria.