Water damage restoration procedures are based on how deep the damage goes into your walls, ceilings, and/or furniture. Understanding before you start this process that there may be some things damaged by water that simply cannot be rescued helps to set expectations for the project overall. The following shows how damaged items are restored based on the level and depth of water damage:
Light Damage That Cannot Be Seen Without a Scope
If there is just a little bit of damage inside a wall or just above a ceiling, the goal is to remove any insulation that is wet, seal the area against any other water leaks, and let it dry on its own behind the wall or above the affected ceiling. Only a small hole or two is needed to see exactly where the wet insulation and wet wood might be. Then it is carefully removed via some select tools that the damage restoration contractor has and knows how to use.
If the water damage is on furniture, a different approach is necessary. Drying the area as well as you can, and then using an upholstery cleaning machine to make sure all the mold spores and mildew are removed (as well as any odors) is the next step. Drying the furniture fully yet a second time will typically restore light water damage to furniture.
Medium Damage That Appears as Bubbles on Paint/Plaster and Dark Spots on Textiles
Medium water damage starts appearing through the paint, drywall, and plaster of affected areas; it takes on a bubbled paint appearance. To restore these areas, the paint is scraped away (since it will eventually crack and fall away anyway), and then the plaster and drywall sections are carefully removed and replaced. New paint is applied after fresh plaster has dried, and then these areas are done. As for dark spots on textiles, special upholstery cleaning agents are used to extract and clean the fabrics on furniture, and then the furniture has to be dried thoroughly.
Heavy Damage That Appears as Dark Stains, Falling Sections of Ceiling and Walls
This is the worst of water damage. The water has soaked all the way through drywall, plaster, paint, and has stained it every color from rust to black mold. Very careful preparations are made to seal off the area and remove all of these sections of stained and collapsing wall and ceiling. A chemical is sprayed on all of the wood behind these areas to kill mold and mildew. Then the drywall, plaster, and paint on the walls and ceiling are restored new.
As for fabrics, they may not be salvageable. A permanent stain may remain, even after professional cleaning. At that point, you have to decide to either throw away the furniture, or have a furniture upholstery shop remove the damaged textiles and reupholster the furniture.