Water roared down our street, pooled up around the clogged street drain, and began to overflow into our neighbor’s front yard. By the time Patrick unclogged the drain — two plastic "No Parking" signs were the culprits — the water was inches from their living room.
My friend Bernice’s bedroom was flooded, the carpet got soaked, and the wall was damp. Water sat in my backyard in mini ponds, some six inches deep. Water, water everywhere! What to do? A call went out to Michael Fahouris, owner of Flood Masters (619-546-6034).
“We do emergency water removal, and we do structural dry-down,” Fahouris explained. “Emergency water removal could be water in somebody’s backyard, or it could be in their garage. Last night we went out and did a carport. The carport was filling up, and if we didn’t get to it in time, it would have affected four condos. We have a submersible pump, so with standing water that is over a quarter of an inch deep we put on the pump and it will drain the water down to a quarter of an inch. Once we take away the bulk of the water that way, then we use a hard-surface tool like a squeegee and squeegee it into a vacuum.”
Fahouris says only three percent of his business is weather-related.
“The rest of it is pipes that break in the house or toilets overflowing. Most of the moisture damage in people’s homes is usually under the sink or the supply line to the refrigerator or the garbage disposal. If it is slow and ongoing, those are the worst leaks because they have time to migrate and saturate. Dense materials — like plywood and wood framing — if that gets wet and stays wet, it is a host for growing mold. Then we have to do what is called a mold-remediation project. Often we end up removing kitchen cabinets.”
If wet carpets are involved, says Fahouris, “We use a weighted extraction tool that removes the water from the pad and the carpet. You need specialty tools to extract a carpet and the pad together. The process is called ‘subsurface extraction.’ That’s when you pull the moisture out of the carpet and the pads without disengaging the carpet.
“Carpet and padding and even drywall is considered porous. Those materials can be dried with dehumidification. But other materials that are more dense — like wood framing, plywood, plaster, wood cabinets — those materials are best dried with heat. We can heat up walls to release the moisture rapidly. Very few people use the heating. They all should. It makes everything smell good, and it is a very fast, effective way to dry structures out. We use a combination of heating tools.”
Flood Masters will not tarp a leaky roof, but “if water comes from above, we use an infrared camera, and we can track the water without having to touch the walls. We can see on the camera what is wet.”
For Flood Masters, the minimum de-flooding job is $250. The service charge is $125. “The service charge determines what is wet, how wet it is, and how much it costs to repair. The average cost for a three-room job is about $3000…that includes bringing everything back to a pre-loss condition.”
Several flood companies said they could not quote prices over the phone. One company did offer a rate: D-Mac Restoration (858-874-2363) says that their charge for a water extraction and treatment with an antibacterial is about $250 (emergency service call included). That is just for the water extraction — if there is damaged drywall, the cost goes up.