Escape of water 3 – stripping out and drying

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This is the third in a series of articles which document the procedure/process following a burst water pipe and the subsequent insurance claim. I decided to write the articles following such an event in my house and being unable to find much in the way of useful information online. Hopefully, in time, the search engines will pick these articles up and if you are unfortunate enough to suffer a similar event, my experience might give you some idea of what to expect. The first article in this series can be found here.

As agreed with the loss adjuster during his visit earlier in the month, I have spent most of January stripping out my sodden property. After a few days of working, I began to regret making the offer of starting this job as it is clear that rather than ‘making a start’ (as was my original intention), it is likely that I will end up doing 75% or more of the total strip out. The reason for this is simply that it takes time to get contractors to quote/start work and while this process continues in the background, I may as well just crack on with the work.

If your home has suffered a similar burst pipe scenario and you have reached this page hoping for some good news at the end of a pretty bleak looking tunnel, I’m afraid the news is, initially at least, not going to be great. Your house is almost certainly going to end up looking a whole lot worse than it did when you first discovered water pouring through your ceiling etc. I was away when a pipe in the loft burst and water was pouring through the property for some time before anyone noticed thus creating a pretty much ‘worse case scenario’.

By the time I had finished stripping out my home, I had filled three large skips. I removed all of the soaking loft insulation, all of the ceilings, all interior doors, all carpet, the wooden flooring on the ground floor, all of the skirting boards, door frames and architrave and the sanitary fixings in one of the bathrooms and the downstairs cloakroom. All lighting, electrical sockets and radiators would also eventually be removed. The house was looking pretty bare at this point but there was still more to go. When the contractors arrived to complete the job, they stripped all of the plaster from around 60% of the walls in the house, taking them back to breeze block and the chipboard flooring from 75% of the upstairs. Most of the dividing plasterboard walls upstairs were also eventually removed. In the end, it was possible to stand in the lounge and look up through the floor joists to the roof tiles. The property hadn’t been this naked since it was built.

Shortly after the loss adjuster’s visit, the drying company had called and installed approximately ten dehumidifiers and half a dozen ‘air movers’ (giant fans). These would run 24/7 to dry the house out. By this time, the heating had also been repaired and the this was also left on constantly to help the drying process. Relative humidity in the house was 100% and it was very uncomfortable working or even being in the building. I was surprised at how much my breathing was affected just because of the humidity levels. There was absolutely no way anyone could have lived in the house during this period.

I remember getting quite impatient in the few days after the loss adjuster had visited because the drying company didn’t phone me immediately. Obviously, I wanted the house dry as soon as possible. A few days wait turned out to be pretty irrelevant in the end because it actually took three and a half months for the property to fully dry out! On the plus side, the insurance company will pick up the tab for all of the electricity and gas I used during the drying process so, every cloud…

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