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How to Handle Warehouse Water Damage Cleanup: A Complete Guide [2024]

Water damage in a commercial setting disrupts schedules and slows down business. When it happens in a 50,000 square-foot warehouse, the logistics are especially challenging.

Complications range from water-damaged interiors, inventory and equipment to delays in receiving and shipping. As the warehouse manager or owner, you want to be prepared.

Our guide is designed to help you navigate the aftermath of a water emergency at your facility. We cover how it happens, what you need to do first and how to manage warehouse water damage cleanup.

Let’s start now.

What Causes Water Damage in Warehouses?

cause of warehouse water damage

The water systems that keep a warehouse running are part of a large network of connecting lines, pipes and drains. When something fails, the source of warehouse damage from water can be traced back to one of these problems.

• Undetected leaks inside the building envelope that spread downward through walls and ceilings
• Leaking HVAC condensate lines, collector boxes, evaporator drain tanks or heat exchangers
• Warehouse equipment failures, including refrigerator units, fill stations and water heaters
• Plumbing problems caused by clogged or broken supply lines or drainage pipes
• Accidental fire sprinkler activation due to corrosion, worn parts or exposure to freezing temperatures
• Sewage line backups resulting from wastewater line failure or storm flooding
• Main water line breaks caused by foundation shift, soil erosion or heavy construction nearby
• Natural events, such as severe storms, heavy snow melts or river flooding
• Warehouse water damage resulting from fire fighting efforts by first responders

7 Steps for Cleaning Up Water Damage in Your Warehouse

warehouse water damage cleanup

When a warehouse bathroom sink springs a leak, repairs are made and the floor gets mopped. When a critical component in the water system floods the building, you have to develop effective solutions to multiple problems.

These seven steps cover everything you need to know about managing water damage at your warehouse facility.

1. Identify and Address the Water Source

Locate the plumbing problem, and determine if it can be solved with a temporary fix. If not, turn off your building’s main water supply, and contact a licensed plumber.

Power Tip: Don’t try to take care of warehouse water damage after storm flooding. Let industry-certified technicians remediate damages caused by Category 3 water.

2. Inspect, Assess and Open Up

Inspect the water damage throughout the facility, and assess your recovery options. DIY cleanup works when damages are minor, but it’s faster and more effective to let water damage professionals handle big jobs.

Move salvageable contents, including equipment and inventory, to safe areas. Start circulating fresh air through the warehouse by opening loading dock entrances and windows.

3. Document All Water Damage

During your assessment, document the building’s water damage by taking pictures and videos. Include unsalvageable contents, items moved to safer areas and warehouse interiors, including walls, ceilings and floors.

Power Tip: Organize the documentation into one file that clearly illustrates damages and losses for insurance purposes.

4. Call Your Insurance Company

Contact your insurance company as soon as possible, and schedule an adjuster’s inspection. Explain that you’re currently documenting water-damaged warehouse contents, equipment, systems and interiors.

5. Call a Water Damage Restoration Professional

If you don’t already know an established water damage contractor, ask your insurance agent for a recommendation.

Check with other warehouse owners and managers too. You want to hire a water damage company with a solid track record of success cleaning commercial properties.

An experienced commercial water damage contractor like ServiceMaster of Lake Shore in Chicago responds 24/7 with an on-site evaluation. You’re presented with an accurate job quote, an action plan and a proposed job schedule.

Industry-certified water damage technicians start the work right away with the following process.

• Immediate water extraction and remediation
• Unsalvageable material tear-out and disposal
• Salvageable content pack-out and storage
• Applied structural drying throughout the warehouse
• Property-wide cleaning, disinfecting and deodorizing
• Industry-certified mold removal and remediation
• Final reconstruction, restoration and post-job cleanup

Power Tip: The water damage contractor can also assist with filing your property insurance water damage claim.

6. Keep Everyone Up to Date

The water damage team keeps you posted on job progress during each restoration phase. Use that information to keep your customers, vendors and employees up to date.

Everyone will appreciate knowing what to expect. Your transparency allows them to adjust their schedules as needed. You can concentrate on fine-tuning plans for getting back to business as quickly as possible.

7. Be Patient With the Restoration Process

Water damage in a warehouse impacts its structural integrity, essential building systems and contents. Water-damaged interiors, equipment and inventory require specialized restoration techniques.

The work can take several weeks or longer, so be patient. When the water damage teams are done, your warehouse will be completely restored to its pre-loss condition.

How to Prevent Warehouse Water Damage

• Develop a routine maintenance schedule for your facility’s water supply system.
• Have the building’s plumbing network inspected by a licensed professional once a year.
• Upgrade older pipes and components, and waterproof vulnerable areas inside the warehouse.
• Install check valves on warehouse water supply lines, sewer lines, floor drains and sump pumps.
• Make sure several employees on each shift know how to turn off the main water supply.
• Confirm the condition of exterior drainage systems, including the roof, driveways and parking lots.
• Be ready to respond to severe weather events with contingency plans that minimize warehouse water damage.

Are You Dealing With a Water-Damaged Warehouse in Chicago? We Can Help.

When you’re responsible for warehouse operations, dealing with a water emergency presents multiple challenges. Let us help. Leave the mitigation and restoration work to our industry-certified technicians.

ServiceMaster of Lake Shore responds to commercial water damage 24/7.

Our teams can be at your facility within 90 minutes. We’re just around the corner, ready for your call: 312-707-8597

Helpful Resources

Storm Flood Prep Tool Kit – Center for Disease Control
Mold in the Workplace – OSHA
Commercial Property Flood Insurance – Insurance Information Institute


Does commercial property insurance cover all types of warehouse water damage?

No. A commercial package policy or business owner’s policy doesn’t cover natural flood events. Both policies should cover warehouse flooding caused by plumbing breakdowns and general water system problems. You can purchase flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program.

What is the difference between a business owner's policy and a commercial package policy?

A business owner’s policy typically combines property insurance and general liability coverage into one policy. A commercial package policy allows for multiple liability policies and increased coverage limits.

Do I need business income coverage in case of warehouse water damage?

Business income coverage can protect you from income loss if you have to shut down warehouse operations due to physical property damage. Discuss your specific needs with your insurance agent.