Water or excess moisture can harm a home and its contents, and cleanup should be started as soon as possible.

Typical costs:
The cost of water damage restoration is based on several factors. These include the size of the affected area, the extent of the damage, the materials and water type. There are three categories — the least expensive to clean up is category 1, which is clean water from a faucet or supply pipe. Category 2 is gray wastewater with minor contaminants, such as overflow from a dishwasher or washing machine. Category 3 is black water, containing sewage or other toxic debris.
Fixing a small area of water damage in a ceiling due to a leaky roof can be $100 -$300 to patch the sheet rock, or $30 -$50 for do-it-yourself materials — not including the cost of fixing the roof and repainting the ceiling.
Drying a flooded basement can cost $500 -$10,000 or more, depending on the size of the basement, the depth of the flooding and the water type (clean, gray wastewater or black/toxic). See How Much Does a Flooded Basement Cost. Depending on where the appliance is located in the house, cleaning up after a faulty water heater, washing machine, dishwasher or air conditioner averages about $5,000, according to HomeOwnerNet.com.
Damage from a burst water pipe can cost $5,000 -$70,000 or more with an average insurance claim costing $15,000. See How Much Does a Burst Pipe Cost.
If an entire house is flooded with storm water, the National Flood Insurance Program provides a flood damage simulator to predict the total cost based on the height of the water. For 1-4 inches of water, the estimated cost is $7,800. For 9-12 inches, the estimate is $18,930. At 18 inches, the estimated cost is $26,285..
Water damage might be covered by insurance. Flood insurance typically covers damage from a natural disaster, when outside water or mud overflows an otherwise dry house. Homeowners insurance does not cover floods, but may cover water damage caused by minor individualized disasters, such as a hailstorm smashing a window or a broken water pipe spewing water — as long as the problem wasn’t caused by a lack of standard maintenance. The Insurance Information Network of California discusses the difference between flood insurance and homeowners insurance.
What should be included:
A restoration company should follow the standards of care of either the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification or the Restoration Industry Association. A company representative will inspect and evaluate the affected area, often using water-sensing equipment such as probes and infrared tools to determine the source of the problem and the extent of the damage.
Restoration includes pumping and drying the affected areas, and sanitizing and deodorizing as needed. The Blackmon Mooring company in Texas describes the basic steps of its water damage restoration process.
Before entering a house filled with standing water, turn off the power — but never turn the power off while standing in water. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides guidelines for entering a flooded house. FloodSafety.com describes how to clean up after a flood.
Wood, plaster and other materials absorb and retain water. They must be either dried and sanitized, or removed. DIYNetwork.com explains how to repair a water-damaged wall. Do-It-Yourself-Help.com describes how to repair water-damaged plaster, drywall and lath plaster.
Additional costs:
If the house and furnishings are not quickly dried and restored, there can be additional problems with mold or dry rot. See How Much Does Mold Remediation Cost and How Much Does Dry Rot Repair Cost.
Installing a simple water alarm or a whole-house shut-off system can help prevent problems. Battery-operated units that sound an alarm when a sensor detects moisture can cost $10 -$115. A system that shuts off the water to a single appliance if a leak is detected is $50 -$150. Whole-house systems with a shot-off valve on the main water supply are about $500 -$3,000.
Shopping for water damage restoration:
The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification lists factors to consider in selecting a restoration company, and has a searchable database of certified water damage restoration specialists.
Large nationwide chains of franchised cleaning/restoration companies include Servpro and Service Master Clean.
Have the restoration company explain what they plan on doing and how they plan to do it, with an estimated timeline. Check references; make sure the company is properly bonded and insured, and check for complaints with the Better Business Bureau.
If the water damage might be covered by insurance, contact the insurance company as soon as possible, and follow up with a written notice of the facts related to the claim. The Texas Department of Insurance lists tips for handing water-damage claims.