How Much Does Water Damage Restoration Cost?

Water damage restoration is the process of removing water from a property and restoring it to a pre-loss condition. Water damage restoration cost ranges from $1,240 to $5,343, with a national average of $3,291.

By Rochel Maday | Published Aug 26, 2022 12:16 PM

Water Damage Restoration Cost

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  • Typical Range: $1,240 to $5,343
  • National Average: $3,291

Water damage can be a devastating experience for any homeowner. It’s often the result of a burst pipe, a leaky roof, or even a broken dishwasher. No matter the cause of the damage, it’s important for homeowners to act quickly and contact a water damage restoration company to prevent structural damage and mold.

When it comes to a typical water damage restoration cost, homeowners can expect to pay between $1,240 and $5,343, according to Angi and HomeAdvisor. While a variety of factors influence the final cost of restoration, such as the severity of the flooding, the size of the affected area, and any provisions in homeowners insurance, the average cost of water restoration is $3,291.

Flooding rarely comes with a warning, so exploring this cost guide now can help homeowners feel more prepared in the event they one day have to estimate their own water damage cleanup costs.

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Factors in Calculating Water Damage Restoration Cost

Restoring water damage in a home can be difficult and costly. Water damage restoration cost is calculated by assessing the severity of the damage, the size of the area being restored, and any necessary repairs. There are also other factors that influence cost, such as the presence of mold growth and emergency callout fees. Some of the most influential factors homeowners should keep in mind when estimating average water restoration cost are explored in more detail below.

Water Damage Restoration Cost

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Damage Category 

There are three categories of water damage. Only a licensed professional can categorize and classify water damage; in fact, most insurance companies don’t accept category diagnoses from homeowners when processing claims.

Each category identifies the level of cleanliness or contamination in water resulting from a flood or leak. Category 1 is considered clean water and is the cheapest to remove and dry at $3 to $4 per square foot. Category 2, or gray water, poses slight health risks and costs a bit more to remediate, with a price range between $4 and $6.50 per square foot. Category 3, also known as black water, is the most dangerous and incurs the highest removal cost at $7 to $7.50 per square foot.

Damage Class

In addition to category, damage class plays a large role in water damage restoration cost. There are four classes homeowners should be aware of.

Class 1 is the easiest and most budget-friendly to clean. With class 1 damage, only part of one room has experienced water damage, so the damage is not widespread. Some homeowners may be able to handle a class 1 cleanup, but if they are hiring a professional, the average cost falls between $150 and $400. Class 2 is assigned when an entire room, including the walls up to 12 inches from the floor up, is covered in water. Homeowners can expect to pay between $500 and $1,000 for a class 2 restoration. Class 3 damage affects most of one room or multiple rooms, including ceilings, walls, subflooring, and insulation. A restoration for class 3 damage costs around $1,000 to $3,000. Finally, class 4 damage is the most severe and typically applies to restorations required after long periods of standing water, such as after a hurricane or river flood. Class 4 water damage is extremely expensive, costing homeowners between $20,000 and $100,000 to remediate.

Damage Type

Water can cause several types of damage. Many restoration companies break damage down into five categories:

  • Cosmetic damage
  • Damage to or replacement of personal items
  • Electrical damage
  • Mold growth
  • Structural damage

Cosmetic damage is likely to have a lower repair cost than more extensive damage, with an average repair cost range of $150 to $1,000. Homeowners may also find themselves needing to repair or replace their personal items, which can add up quickly depending on the type of belongings affected. Homeowners can expect to pay between $500 and $1,500 to replace personal items lost in a water leak or flood.

Electrical damage can be more expensive, with a repair cost range of $1,200 to $3,000. Mold remediation can also come with a hefty price tag, falling between $1,500 and $4,000. Finally, as one might expect, repairs to structural damage are the most expensive type of water restoration service. Structural damage can hide, which means diagnostics take time—and, of course, the longer the time, the greater the cost. Most structural repairs add up to a total of $1,500 to $10,000.

Water Damage Restoration Cost

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Damage Location

Water damage can hide in many places throughout the home, so finding it as soon as possible should be a top priority. When it comes to water damage restoration cost per square foot, the location of the damage has a large impact. For example, repairing a leaky roof has a national average cost of $1,000. A basement flooded with an inch of clean water has a restoration range of $500 to $1,500; with two feet of black water, the cost jumps to $2,800 or more. A bathroom, even with less square footage than a basement, can cost up to $3,000 to clean and repair after water damage. When homeowners are estimating water restoration cost by location, they should keep in mind that the average cost per square foot also depends on the damage category, class, and type.

Damage Extent

When it comes to water damage, the extent to which it has spread within a home can greatly affect the total restoration cost. For example, damage limited to one corner of a room due to a leaky window is likely to be less expensive to repair than damage to a finished basement flooded with 3 feet of water.

To help estimate how much the damage of a flood or leak will impact the total restoration cost, homeowners should consider both the class and category as determined by their water restoration company. The higher the category or class, the more likely it is that the damage is extensive and will cost more to repair.

Geographic Location

How much does flood restoration cost by city or town? Water restoration costs vary across the country. For example, Los Angeles has the lowest average restoration cost at $2,750. Portland, Oregon, isn’t much higher, with an average restoration cost of $3,100.

Water restoration in Raleigh, North Carolina, is slightly higher, with an average cost of $6,450, and residents in Boise, Idaho, will pay one of the highest costs, at an average rate of $10,730.

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Labor

Labor costs to repair water damage vary widely. The total is dependent on the type of repairs needed. On average, companies charge within a labor cost range of $70 to $200 per hour. The final cost depends on what type of water the company has to remove and dry, how extensive the damage is, and whether or not additional repairs are needed. A simple water evacuation and dry restoration job is likely to have a lower labor cost than one that involves tearing out carpet, removing drywall, and replacing a room’s wooden framing.

Homeowners should also keep in mind that the company that removes the water may not be available or qualified to handle all the necessary repairs. This could result in labor costs from multiple contractors. For example, a roofer may charge between $35 and $90 per hour, while an electrician might bill between $40 and $120 per hour. A painter is likely to charge between $40 and $60 per hour, which is much less than a plumber, who will charge an average of $75 to $130 per hour. If a carpenter is needed, homeowners will pay between $40 and $120 in hourly labor costs.

Water Damage Restoration Cost

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Additional Costs and Considerations

In addition to the common factors already mentioned, there are a few other aspects that homeowners should keep in mind when calculating water damage restoration prices.

Mold Remediation

Water damage can cause structural damage, but equally (or even more) concerning is the potential for mold growth. Mold may be obvious in some flooding scenarios, but in others it can go undetected and grow, hidden beneath baseboards, window frames, door frames, floorboards, or drywall. The growth can go untreated for months, or even years, before the homeowner realizes the mold is there. Homeowners exposed to mold spores can experience allergic symptoms, including sneezing, coughing, and headaches. Repeated exposure, which is likely after water damage, can increase a person’s sensitivity to mold, increasing the severity of each reaction.

How much do water restoration companies charge in mold remediation costs? Removing mold costs between $1,100 and $3,400, with an average price tag of $2,200. This should include professional mold testing and a customized remediation plan that targets the specific type of mold present in the home. In some cases, home insurance covers the cost of mold removal; homeowners should work with their insurance agent to determine whether this is the case and to make a claim.

Repairs

Repairs aren’t always necessary in a water restoration job. But when they are, the total price can jump quickly. Not all water restoration jobs involve the same components, materials, and fixtures, so prices widely vary. But homeowners can estimate their potential costs by breaking down each repair into categories.

When it comes to bathroom fixtures, homeowners can expect to pay between $150 and $350 to repair and restore them. Floors cost between $200 and $500 to restore, while drywall has a restoration cost range of $300 to $800. Ceilings can be a bit more pricey, with a repair cost range of $350 to $1,250. Finally, repairs and restorative plumbing services can range in price from $1,000 to $4,000.

If the necessary repairs aren’t related solely to water damage, other repair services may be required. The best fire damage restoration companies know how to work simultaneously with a water damage restoration company to minimize the cost and time commitment for homeowners.

Emergency Fees

Water damage doesn’t always wait until business hours to strike. It also isn’t very patient. That’s why water restoration companies often charge emergency fees to ensure they have the staff, equipment, and means to reach water restoration jobs as quickly as possible.

Some companies build these costs into an overall quote and say they don’t charge emergency fees, while others charge less for the job but tack on an additional $50 to $200 in fees. While an emergency fee is yet another financial bite to chew, it’s a small price to pay to have an experienced crew on site in a matter of hours.

Insurance or Warranty Coverage

Insurance companies decide on a case-by-case basis whether water damage is covered by an up-to-date homeowners insurance policy. Many times, homeowners insurance covers water damage costs minus the deductible—as long as the water damage is the result of a sudden or accidental event such as a windstorm. However, homeowners insurance will not cover water damage from flooding, such as a river that overflows or a hurricane that brings excessive amounts of rain. If this type of flooding is possible in the homeowner’s location, they will want to look into purchasing a separate flood insurance policy to ensure they are more fully covered.

It’s not always evident whether a typical homeowners insurance will cover a water restoration project, so homeowners should do their best to document the scene by taking photographs and videos of the damage. This can help simplify the claim process while maximizing the chances that the claim will be approved.

A home warranty can also cover water damage in some cases. While a warranty is unlikely to cover the damage to the home itself, it may cover the cost to repair the appliance or system that caused the water damage in the first place. For example, if the damage was caused by a leaking water heater or washing machine, a home warranty may pay to replace the appliance after the homeowner has paid a service fee.

When searching for the best water damage restoration companies, homeowners will want to look for one that offers insurance claim management. With experience in this service, the company should know exactly what to document, how to file a claim quickly, and what to look out for as the claim moves through the approval process.

Water Damage Restoration Cost

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Types of Water Damage Restoration

How much does it cost for water damage restoration? One especially influential factor when determining water cleanup cost is the category or type of water that caused the damage. While it’s helpful for homeowners to understand the difference between the three types of water damage, It’s important to note that only a licensed professional can categorize water damage. Water damage categories have a direct impact on what an insurance company may or may not cover in terms of water mitigation prices and restoration, along with average restoration costs by square footage.

Clean Water

Clean water is considered category 1. It’s the easiest to dry and repair and, therefore, the cheapest per square foot when it comes to water damage restoration. Homeowners can expect to pay between $3 and $4 per square foot for drying services for a clean water cleanup. As the job progresses, the homeowner may incur additional costs. For example, cleaning carpets costs around $1 to $11 per square foot in a clean water cleanup, while drywall repair costs between $1 and $3 per square foot.

To be classified as clean water, the water in question must not have come into contact with chemical or fecal matter. This means it poses no health risks. Common sources of clean water leaks include leaky faucets, leaky toilet tanks, burst pipes, faulty water heaters, broken sprinklers, and rain. If a flood has been classified as clean water, time is of the essence. Category 1 can quickly transition to Category 2 and so on, increasing the damage and therefore the price of restoration.

Gray Water

Category 2, or gray water, includes harmful contaminants. These include dishwasher detergent, laundry detergent, and toilet overflow with urine or cleaning agents. Though gray water doesn’t come into contact with fecal matter, it can still be a health hazard.

To dry and remediate gray water, homeowners pay an average of $4 to $6.50 per square foot. There may be additional costs to repair related damage, including hardwood repair, with a typical range of $10 to $15 per square foot, and plaster repair, which costs between $6 and $19 per square foot. Gray water often comes from appliance overflow, including dishwashers and washing machines. Toilet overflow without any sewage backup is also a source of gray water. If left unchecked, gray water is the ideal environment for bacteria and mold growth and increases the cost of remediation for the homeowner.

Black Water

Black water, classified as category 3, is water that has come into contact with sewage and is the most expensive category to remediate. Homeowners can expect to pay between $7 and $7.50 per square foot to remove black water from their home.This is solely for removal and drying; repairing and replacing affected items are additional costs.

These costs can quickly get out of hand, because anything that black water touches needs to be removed from the home. This includes bedding, carpeting, clothing, upholstered furniture, porous building materials, and anything else that absorbs moisture. Because it’s nearly impossible to guarantee that every affected surface has been cleaned and properly sterilized, it’s often cheaper to simply replace items rather than attempt to restore them.

Black water flooding can happen as a result of sewage backups, plumbing system leaks, secondary flooding created by powerful storm surges, or overflowing rivers, lakes, or contaminated groundwater. The sewage contamination in black water can be a serious threat to health, which is why a qualified mold remediation crew is often required for a category 3 water damage restoration job. When it comes to black water, paying higher restoration fees is the trade-off for a clean and healthy home.

Do I Need Water Damage Restoration?

Water damage in the home can happen to anyone at any time. Some water damage might be mild and not require professional care, but concerns about serious water damage should be addressed immediately. Here are some of the most telltale signs that a home is in need of a water cleanup expert.

Presence of Water

Unless there’s an obvious source, like a spill, the presence of water somewhere in the home where it shouldn’t be can indicate a leak or other serious water issue. If a puddle shows up in the basement or a small pool forms beneath a window during a storm, a homeowner should clean up the mess and make a mental note, but if the water comes back, either immediately or during the next rainfall, it’s a sure sign of a leak or seepage that requires professional attention.

Presence of Mold

A mold infestation is one of the first signs of water damage. If mold is visible, a homeowner should consider it a silver lining, since visible mold can be treated quickly to prevent further damage. However, mold will often grow in concealed places, like between drywall or under the floorboards. This means homeowners can be unwittingly living with mold, which can be extremely dangerous to their health. Once the homeowner spots mold or notices a musty or earthy smell, it’s time for water damage restoration services, not just to remedy the situation but to prevent future growth.

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Bubbling or Cracking Paint

Bubbling wallpaper and cracking paint are more than just aesthetic issues; they can signal a leak hiding behind the wall. They occur when the wall is exposed to excess water, causing the surface of the wall to expand and the paint or wallpaper to bubble, crack, or even peel. If left unattended, the damage can be extensive, so it’s essential to remember that paint and wallpaper issues often signal the need for water restoration services.

Warping or Buckling Floor

Floors can warp or buckle with old age, but in some situations the cause is water damage. For this reason, laminate, hardwood planks, or grouted tiles begin to loosen, crack, or shift, they should be examined closely. If moisture has been slowly building up beneath the surface, or even if small spills have been left uncleaned on a floor, floorboards can expand, contract, or lift as a result.

There doesn’t have to be a catastrophic event for floors to warp or buckle. When indoor humidity levels fluctuate wildly, moisture buildup can lead to floor damage as well. Either way, water damage restoration services may be needed when a floor warps or buckles from excessive moisture.

Water Sounds

Many people enjoy the sound of trickling water when it comes from an indoor water feature or a relaxing mountainside creek, but when homeowners hear the unexplained sound of water in their home, this could signal a leak or already prevalent water damage. Although it’s normal for a home’s plumbing to make gushing and dripping sounds throughout the day, a trickle of water behind the shower or a sudden rush of water behind a wall indicate that a water restoration professional should be called in as soon as possible.

Staining or Discoloration

Dirty water likes to leave a calling card in the form of stains or discoloration. Brown streaks down the exterior of a home are a good sign of either an overflowing gutter or a poorly draining roof. Stains on the ceiling can also signal water issues; a light- or dark-brown stain is usually a sign of a water issue above. Water damage even shows up on ceilings painted dark colors, though instead of being brown, the stain may be orange, yellow, or green.

When a homeowner notices a stain, it’s a good idea to check whether there’s an appliance directly above the stain. If so, there’s good reason to believe the appliance is the leaky culprit. If the stain is at the top level of the home, the cause could be a leaky roof or faulty plumbing. The location of the stain will signal who to call for a leak, but it’s likely that water restoration services may be required to ensure additional stains won’t form after the initial signs of water damage have been remedied.

Loss of Heat

Loss of heat can be a surprising but accurate sign of excess moisture in a home. Excess moisture can draw heat out of walls, leaving them much colder than when they are completely dry. If it’s becoming increasingly difficult for a homeowner to warm their home even with the heat cranked up, they should consider having their home inspected for excess moisture. A water restoration service can come in with professional moisture meters to evaluate for any issues. If they find moisture, they can make recommendations on how to address the situation; it’s highly unlikely to resolve on its own without leaving behind damage.

Increased Water Bills

A spike in a home’s water bill is a telltale sign of a water issue. Unless there’s an explanation, excessive water use can indicate a leak. Once the shock of a high water bill has worn off, a homeowner should look for any obvious leaks, such as near a toilet, hot water heater, or main water supply. If there is no obvious sign of a leak, it doesn’t mean there isn’t one. Concealed leaks are common. A water damage professional can help find the leak, repair it, salvage what they can, and repair what they can’t to return the home to pre-loss condition.

Water Damage Restoration Cost

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Water Damage Restoration: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional 

When part of a home is affected by a natural disaster, a burst pipe, or a leaky faucet, any flooding needs to be addressed immediately. The longer moisture sits, the more likely it is for mold and bacteria to grow. This is why some homeowners decide to try the DIY route—they want the job to start as soon as possible. But somewhere along the way, mistakes are made and the end result can be just as bad as if the flooding were ignored from the beginning.

Because professional water damage restoration companies have extensive experience, they can handle a flooding job quickly, effectively, and safely. A company has extensive experience in remediating water damage. They know which chemicals to use to prevent mold and mildew growth and how to test different materials for moisture. Restoration services also have the proper equipment to handle a flood cleanup. While it’s possible for a homeowner to rent excavation tools or dryers, they’re rarely as powerful or state of the art as the equipment a restoration service has on hand.

It’s an understatement to say that time is of the essence during a flood. A professional cleanup team knows how to assess a situation quickly and devise a plan that gets the area cleaned fast enough to prevent any additional damage. A great professional water damage company can also work with the homeowners insurance company. This not only takes some of the stress off the homeowner but ensures that the claim is filed efficiently and correctly.

In an effort to get the job done quickly, a homeowner might want to tackle their own flood restoration. But just because something is dry doesn’t mean there’s no moisture. An inefficient cleanup can lead to hidden mold, which can be a costly health danger. When it comes to water damage, it’s best to hire a professional rather than pay to fix improper repairs or hidden moisture damage down the line.

How to Save Money on Water Damage Restoration Cost

Whether it’s in the basement, kitchen, or bathroom, a severe leak or flood is stressful. And even if they have flood insurance, many homeowners find out that after high deductibles, insurance payouts may not be enough to get a home back to pre-flooding conditions. That’s why it’s crucial to save as much money as possible on water damage restoration. Listed below are a few tips homeowners can keep in mind when financially managing their home after flooding or another water damage event.

  • Act as quickly as possible to secure a water damage restoration company during a catastrophic event. Waiting too long can result in limited contractor choices or price gouging.
  • Even if the flooding is contained within a single home, such as from a burst pipe, waiting too long will only exacerbate the issue, as damp areas grow mold and bacteria. To reduce the time and cost of a water restoration project, call a professional as soon as possible.
  • If the home is safe, enlist the help of friends and family to clear out carpet, furniture, and personal belongings so the water damage restoration company can easily access the affected area.
  • Discard any textiles that have been contaminated by black water; don’t waste time and money trying to save items that can’t be restored to pre-flood conditions. The exception to this may be electronics. While cheap electronics should be disposed of, expensive electronics may be salvageable, though a professional repair tech will be able to make the final call.
  • The best way to save money on water damage restoration is to avoid it in the first place. While Mother Nature can’t be stopped, keeping up on routine maintenance throughout the home, including cleaning gutters, checking roofing for signs of damage, and ensuring windows and doors are well fitted, can help prevent water damage in the first place. Waterproofing the basement can also help prevent the need for water damage restoration services, which can be more expensive than the initial cost for basement waterproofing.

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Questions to Ask About Water Damage Restoration

In many water damage restoration cases, time is of the essence. The pressure to find a contractor can make it difficult to weed through the contenders and find the best person for the job. Here are the top questions a homeowner should ask a water damage restoration company before hiring them, during the cleanup process, and after the job is complete.

  • How long has your company been in business?
  • Does your company hold water mitigation certification from the IICRC (Institute of Inspection, Cleaning & Restoration Certification)?
  • Are you licensed, bonded, and insured?
  • How are your employees trained? Do they have water mitigation certification cards?
  • Do you offer emergency services that are available 24 hours a day?
  • Is your equipment up to date?
  • Do you use industrial cleaning supplies?
  • What drying system do you use?
  • What can you do to limit the need for replacement materials after the cleanup?
  • What type of vacuums and water/debris extraction tools do you use?
  • How do you check that water has been adequately extracted from all surfaces when you are dealing with a clean-water loss restoration?
  • What types of meters do you use to test moisture in different structure materials, such as concrete, drywall, or wood?
  • How long do you expect the cleanup to take?
  • Do you guarantee your work and offer documentation that the structure has been returned to pre-loss condition?
  • Is my home safe to live in, and if not, what can I do?
  • Do I need to continue to monitor the space after cleanup for signs of mold or mildew?

FAQs

While there are many different causes of home flooding, water damage restoration should never be delayed or avoided. It’s important for homeowners to contact a water damage restoration company as soon as possible to avoid any further damage. The following FAQ section can help homeowners quickly estimate their water damage restoration cost and understand more about the process.

Q. How do I prevent water damage in my home?

When it comes to water damage, prevention is worth more than the cure, so homeowners should do everything in their power to stop water damage before it occurs. Hoses, faucets, showers, and tubs should be checked for leaks on a regular basis. Homeowners will also want to know where and how to shut off their water main. Homeowners will also want to know where and how to shut off their water main. Finally, since it’s not always possible to be on the lookout for flooding, leak detectors can help provide some peace of mind.

Q. What is the average cost of water damage restoration?

The average cost of water damage restoration has a typical range of $1,240 to $5,342. There are many different factors that affect water damage restoration cost, including the category and extent of the damage and the type of repairs. On average, homeowners can expect to pay $3,291 for a water damage restoration project.

Q. Does insurance cover water damage?

That depends. If the water damage was sudden, accidental, or unavoidable, homeowners insurance may cover the cost, but if the damage was caused by a homeowner’s negligence, any sort of claim is likely to be denied. For example, if a pipe bursts due to a record cold snap but the homeowner took every possible precaution to prevent plumbing damage beforehand, the damage is likely to be covered. But if a homeowner turns off their heat and jets off on vacation during the same cold snap, damage caused by that burst pipe is unlikely to be covered.

Q. How much does it cost to repair water-damaged drywall?

Once any standing water has been extracted and the once flooded area has been dried out, it’s usually time to start restoring any damaged areas. Drywall is a common household material that needs to be replaced after a flood or other water damage. On average, it costs $1.50 to $3 per square foot to repair drywall during a water damage restoration.

Q. How long does it take to repair water damage?

Every flooding scenario is unique, and so the time frame for repairs varies. In general, it takes 72 hours for areas affected by water damage to dry completely. At the same time, it only takes about an hour for water damage to begin after a flood. This is why reaching out to a water restoration company as soon as possible after a water incident is so important.

Q. How can I tell where a water leak is coming from?

When homeowners are cleaning up after a flood, it’s important to make sure the source of the water is discovered and, if necessary, repaired. When trying to find a water leak, homeowners should start by checking the walls and floor for abnormalities, like staining or buckling. Faucets are a common source of water leaks and should be thoroughly inspected, along with toilets and dishwashers. Outside, homeowners should inspect their yards for signs of leaking buried water lines and monitor their water meters for signs of excessive water usage.

Sources: Angi, HomeAdvisor, Fixr

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