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Three Types of Common Water Damage

rain on deck

We all know water is to be avoided at all costs when it comes to home maintenance. Water and moisture can do immense amounts of damage to all types of building materials over time, with wood being particularly susceptible to its damaging effects. As a property owner, you should be aware of three common sources of water intrusion harmful to your property.

  1. Water can penetrate your home during storms with wind-driven rain. 
  2. Floods from local water sources and rapid rainfall. 
  3. Internal plumbing leaks and burst pipes.
Each of these three sources has its own playbook for dealing with them. Rain is inevitable, and you’re going to have to deal with water coming down onto your roof, trying to get in through the ceiling and coming in through the windows and siding via wind. After a storm, do a check of ceilings and walls near the ceiling, door and window for water leaks.  If you get a lot of rain in a short period of time, it can cause localized “flooding” on your property. Make sure the ground is properly graded to give run-off water somewhere to go away from your home. If your property is perfectly flat or the grade runs towards your house, water will pool around your foundation, eventually leading to problems.  If you own a home in an area highly prone to flooding, make sure you have a flood plan and all the appropriate insurance information you need in the event of a flood. It’s hard to mitigate and prepare for a flood of the Russian River, so make sure you pay attention to local codes and regulations, which are usually crafted to help residents deal with such issues. Do an annual check-up each year on the plumbing throughout your home. Pay close attention to connections and junctions and look for evidence of slow leaks – like mineral trails or buildups that may or may not also be wet. Evidence of slow drip patterns can also provide hints to a slow-growing problem. It’s always a good idea to make friends with a plumber you can trust. In the event water does manage to make it into your home, we are here and ready to help. Whether you’re looking at minor or extensive damage, RCS Cares specialize in water damage recovery and can help you get your property back to normal as soon as possible. Contact us at 707-570-0555 to talk about your project today.

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When Sump Pumps Fail

sump pump basement

You may not realize how much you depend on your sump pump to protect you from a flooding basement or crawlspace. That is until it fails. When a sump pump fails, it not only doesn’t stop water from flooding your basement, it can also make the situation even worse. Find out what causes your sump pump to fail and what you can do to prevent it.

Causes for a Sump Pump to Fail

A few common reasons for a sump pump to fail include:
  • Power outages
  • A malfunction of mechanical parts
  • Age of the unit; an older model may simply give out due to its use over the years
  • Improper installation puts extra strain on the unit or not pump at optimum levels
  • Inexpensive units not designed to handle your needs
Sump Pump Failures Explained You will realize pretty quickly when your sump pump fails but may not understand why it happened. Here are some common reasons:

Power Outage

When the power goes out and you don’t have a battery backup, it can spell disaster because you have no protection from basement flooding. Other causes for loss of power is if the sump pump is accidentally unplugged or the circuit breaker is tripped.

Clogged Sump Pump or Discharge Lines

Many people install sump pumps without a lid, which creates a high risk for clogging. If your sump pump is installed without a lid, dust, dirt and other debris can get inside and cause it to clog. A dirty sump pump can experience mechanical failure including the switches which can get stuck in either the on or off position or stop working when you need it most. Having a sump pump lid also protects children, pets and excess water from flowing back into your space. Another cause for sump pump failure is due to dirt, debris or even rodents to get into and clog the discharge lines. Discharge lines are an important part of the system as they carry the water out and discharge it far from your home, protecting its very foundation.

Improper Installation

If the sump pump seems to be working but there’s no water in the pit, it’s a sure sign of improper installation. A sump pump is installed incorrectly if it’s not connected to the drainage system or there is no drainage system in place. In order to work effectively, excess water flows to the sump pump where it then drains into the pit. If you don’t have a drainage system, such as drain tile, the sump pump can’t successfully drain water into the pit. Make sure you have a clear – not clogged - drain tile system and that it’s pitched correctly for the sump pump to work at maximum efficiency.

Under Functioning

Your sump pump may perform well during lighter periods of rain, but during heavier rains, it might just not have what it takes to power through and keep up with all the excess water. An inadequate pump can easily burn out or stop working during a critical time of removing excess water and preventing a flood.

Running Non-Stop

If the sump pump is running non-stop, it will burn out sooner than later. If your unit is running non-stop, call in a professional to diagnosis the problem. Under normal circumstances, your sump pump should not be running continuously. The technician will check for problems such as defective or broken parts, clogged switches or adequate size and function.

Free Yourself from Sump Pump Failure

When it comes to basement flooding, prevention is the best course of action. When water is backing up in your basement is not the time to realize your sump pump isn’t reliable, designed to handle your needs or experiencing mechanical failure. Consider these options before a minor issue takes a disastrous turn:
  • Make sure you invest in a reliable, high quality sump pump. Check with experts in water removal to assess and make recommendations in terms of which sump pump to buy. You may also consider a battery back-up model or more than one sump pump.
  • Install a drainage (drain tile) system.
  • Inspect and clean your sump pump regularly.


Your sump pump plays a critical role in home protection.  When it fails, you have to deal with flooding and water removal, water damage and all the dangers and issues that go hand-in-hand with a water back-up or flood. When your basement floods, call in the water removal and mold remediation professionals at RCS in Santa Rosa. We can quickly remove the water, repair any damage and restore your home back to its safe, dry condition.

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How Serious is Your Water Damage?

leaking toilet flooded bathroom

While any type of water damage is serious and requires immediate attention for cleanup and restoration, local Sonoma County professional restoration specialists assess and officially categorize water damage. In accordance with Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification standards, there are three different types or categories of water damage.

Category I – Clean Water Damage

Category 1 water damage is the least destructive according to the standards. Clean water means that the water is free of contaminants, toxins and sewage. It includes cleanup for water damage cause by broken water lines, leaky water pipes, an overflow of rainwater or a clean yet overflowing toilet. For this type of water damage, professionals find it the easiest to clean, dry and restore without long-term or serious consequences for the homeowner, provided that the cleanup takes place within 48 hours from the incident. If cleanup is postponed, category 1 water damage can change to a category 2 fairly quickly.

Category 2 – Grey Water Damage

The next category moves up the damage scale. Grey water indicates that the damage is caused primarily by malfunctioning appliances like sump pumps, toilets or washing machines. While more water and some mild chemicals like laundry soap may be involved, it still does not contain anything which poses immediate harm to residents. Although there are not serious health threats, there may still be a level of mild to serious contamination with grey water damage. The biggest problem with grey water damage is that if left unclean or not disinfected quickly, the potential for untreated waste, mold or mildew to set in, grow and cause further problems for homeowners in the future.

Category 3 – Black Water Damage

As you can probably guess, category 3 water damage is the most toxic and dangerous of all. Because it contains toxins, active viruses and bacteria, the danger of spreading disease and illness is high. Immediate cleanup, drying and disinfecting should take place to prevent damage to the owner’s health, property and home structure. Black water damage is produced by natural floods, swelling ground water or sewage. Swift action includes damaged property removal for deep cleaning and complete drying, followed by an intense disinfection protocol.


Regardless of the category of your water damage, call in the professionals at RCS in Santa Rosa. Our experienced and certified professionals quickly carry out restoration procedures so you can return to a clean, healthy and safe home.    

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The Danger of Mold and Wood Rot After Water Damage

wood rot under home

One of the more dangerous things that can happen to a homeowner is to experience water damage. Whether caused by heavy rains, a failed sump pump or an undetected leaking pipe, water damage is quite simply, devastating. It compromises the very structural integrity of your home, in addition to causing permanent damage or loss of personal items. If not cleaned and dried quickly, mold and wood rot sets in and causes even more extensive damage.

The Dangers of Mold Due to Water Damage

If water damage is not completely dried and cleaned, mold can set in within days. The deceiving part of DIY drying and cleaning after water damage is that areas that appear to be clean and dry are really not. Interior and exterior walls and flooring are capable of retaining moisture inside even though appearing outwardly dry. It takes a professional mold remediation company to be able to spot these hidden areas and make sure everything is completely dry. Mold grows quickly under damp conditions. Once mold takes over, it produces mold spores and when disturbed, these mold spores become airborne and spread to other areas throughout your home. When mold spores become airborne, they are easily inhaled and spell disaster for anyone suffering from compromised immune systems, asthma, allergies, or other lung afflictions.

The Dangers of Wood Rot Due to Water Damage

Wood rot is what happens when mold and mildew settle into any wooden structure or surface. Over time, mold grows and eats away at moist, water-soaked wood. As mold grows and eats away at more of the wood, it causes serious and expensive structural damage to your home. When wood rot sets in, nothing short of replacing the rotted wood and calling in a professional mold remediation team can fix the problem. Wood rot commonly shows up in interior and exterior walls, attics, basements and crawlspaces. Other than flooding, an undetected water leak through cracks in the foundation, clogged gutters, holes in the roof or uninsulated/unprotected concrete or dirt crawlspace floors are prime spots for the formation of mold and wood rot.

Preventing Mold and Wood Rot

The best way to prevent mold and wood rot damage is to find and nip water problems in the bud before they turn into bigger, more expensive and dangerous structural issues.
  • If you notice a musty odor in certain areas of your home, there is mold growing somewhere in the area.
  • Pay close attention to and immediately repair any leaks, drips, cracks or clogged gutters and downspouts.
  • Check crawlspaces and watch for wood damage or moist, damp conditions.
  • Use treated wood or completely seal any structural repairs or remodeling projects requiring wood.


At the end of the day, these are serious issues best handled by professionals. For inspection, repair and restoration, call in the professionals at RCS. Let our years of experience work for you to fix the structural and eliminate the health risks that come along with mold and wood rot due to water damage.

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When It’s Safe to Return to a Flood Damaged Home

blk-white photo of interior

In the aftermath of water or flood damage to your home, knowing when it’s safe to return to inspect the damage and gather what you can salvage from the mess is crucial for your health and safety.

As a first step to getting life back to normal, you’ll need to return to your home as soon as safely possible to evaluate the damage and begin the water damage restoration process.

Here’s when to know it’s safe to return home for inspection and when to move back in after water damage has impacted your home.

Perform a Well-Lit Inspection

Knowing that a flood or major water damage affects structural components, electrical and HVAC systems in addition to damaging personal belongings, it’s best to return to assess damage during daylight hours once hopefully, the water has receded.

The sunlight will give you a better view of how much damage you’re looking at and you’ll be better able to avoid walking into any danger zones because you can’t see them in darkness.

If there’s standing water, call a water damage restoration company to pump the water out of the area quickly and safely.

Electrical Damage

As you probably already know, water and electricity do not mix.

If you can safely get to the main breaker, turn off the power.

However, if there’s standing water or wet areas between you and the main circuit box, don’t risk attempting to turn off the power. Never walk through or stand in water to try to cut the power in your home.

Call a qualified electrician and explain the situation. Turn the electrical system over to the professionals who are trained to deal with live power after water damage or a flood.

Until your home has been inspected by an electrician who will assess any damage done to your home’s electrical system, the risk for electric shock is high and should be avoided.

Gas Leaks

Another serious threat to your safety is the potential for gas leaks.

If you smell the “rotten egg” odor of gas, exit the home and contact the electric company immediately to report the smell of gas in your flooded or water damaged home.

Avoid starting a sump pump or other piece of equipment that could cause a spark or ignite a flame.

Contact Water Damage Restoration Professionals

While you may need to inspect water or flood damage to your home, the aftermath and safe cleanup is better left to water damage restoration professionals.

The professionals can walk you through the process of restoring and repairing damage to your home.

In the meantime, let them safely dry, clean and sanitize affected things in your home before you return to stay.

Knowing that a professional restoration company has inspected and addressed damage including structural integrity, electrical and HVAC systems and water supply if applicable gives you the peace of mind that you’re returning to a safe and healthy environment.


Depending on the extent, water damage to your home can be traumatic to you, your family and to the home itself.

Don’t hesitate to contact a professional water damage restoration company when it comes to taking the steps you need to repair the damage.

To restore your home and property in Sonoma County, call the water damage repair and restoration specialists at RCS in Santa Rosa.

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Exposure to Asbestos During Water Damage Restoration

water damage ceiling

One of the primary reasons for calling in a professional water damage restoration company is to thoroughly and safely clean up the damage. There are a lot of safety risks and potential health risks when dealing with water damage restoration. One of the biggest safety concerns is the exposure to asbestos during clean-up.

Why is Asbestos a Concern?

Depending on the extent of damage, water can penetrate into previously undisturbed areas where asbestos has been kept contained, sometimes for years. The water can loosen asbestos particles, which float in the standing water and become airborne. Unless you know what to look for, you’ve been exposed to the very serious health risks of asbestos. If areas of the building or home need demolition, this will certainly expose any hidden asbestos.

Who’s At Risk?

Back in the day, asbestos was a popular construction and insulation material. In fact, for decades prior to the 1970’s asbestos was commonly used. Beginning in the 1980’s when the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stepped in to regulate the use and handling of asbestos, strict restrictions were put into place. Although not completely banned in the United States, there is little that can undo what was done decades ago. Construction using asbestos has been sort of “grandfathered in,” and it’s a matter of being aware and taking precautions that professionals take care of water damage restoration.

High Risk Asbestos Areas

Common places to find asbestos include:
  • Walls
  • Insulation
  • Flooring
  • Roofing
  • Pipes, Plumbing

Asbestos Exposure Risks

Asbestos is so dangerous because the United States Department of Health and Human Services identifies and classifies it as a human carcinogen. A human carcinogen has the potential to cause cancer. Additional health issues put humans at risk of severe upper respiratory conditions or can make existing conditions worse.

Hidden Risk

Asbestos isn’t a health risk or danger as long as it’s contained and undisturbed. It’s at the time when it’s disturbed, exposed and released into the air that it becomes dangerous. Events that can send asbestos particles airborne include:
  • Demolition
  • Remodeling
  • Building addition
  • Roofing
  • Remove/Replace flooring
  • Flooding/Water Damage
Additionally, anywhere at risk for hurricanes or the threat of other water damage is at high risk for asbestos exposure.

Safety Measures

Professional water damage restoration specialists are trained at spotting potential asbestos risk factors. Before beginning any restoration work, a home or building should be tested for asbestos, especially an older structure. If asbestos is found, an asbestos abatement team need to remove all traces of it, contain and dispose of it prior to anyone is allowed to continue any further work inside.


While tackling a water damage restoration as soon as possible is a high priority, health and safety come first. If you are at potential risk for asbestos exposure after a water damage event, don’t take chances. Call upon the experts at RCS in Sonoma County for help to assess, address and safely restore your property without the hidden health and safety risks of asbestos.

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