So you got flooded .. Now what do you do?
Everyone always wants to get back to normal as soon as possible, with as little cost and intrusion into their life as possible. Guess what? That expectation is the worst way to approach this kind of water loss. While it sounds great what is the big deal. Let us explore the things that can happen when you actually move too quickly.
Having anything submerged in water means it was able to saturate. Saturated clothing can be wrung out but is still wet at the fiber level. Guess what wood does the same thing. Unlike clothing wood structures cannot be thrown into a dryer. That is right inside those beams are still wet. Behind that wall is soaked, oh your home is insulated yeah that’s wet too. That beautiful wood floor is sitting on a subfloor that space is wet too. However will you get it dry. Well if you do not have high powered fans and commercial grade dehumidifiers it can take months yes months to air dry.
Aside from the fact that everything is wet, said you were flooded right? Guess what despite what you think flood water is not clean. At all! It is flooded because the water did not have a normal place to drain. Where does most city water drain into? That is right the sewer system.. So if you are flooded because the sewer system is not working that is right folks you have been flooded with sewer water.
- Is mold already growing
- Is electricity on & active (Never walk through water to power off electricity)
- Check for gas leaks
- Is the structure safe
- Wear protective eye glasses, Shoes and gloves and respirator if you suspect mold.
- Do not mix chemicals the vapors can be deadly (Especially Bleach and Vinegar)
Step by Step guide:
- Get to safety: If the rain has stopped flooding is still possible as the water drains from some areas and into others. Makes sure you stay safe. Once it is safe to do so start assessing the personal damage you have incurred.
- Insurance: Most people have home owners insurance. Guess what they do not cover flood insurance so start there. If you were flooded and do not have flood insurance you are on your own. Even if you do it is your responsibility to keep the home safe and reduce damages as much as you can. Which means you cannot wait to hear from the insurance company. Should you get mold or rot from waiting most likely it will not be covered due to the fact that it is considered secondary damage. Meaning it would not occur if you had started to clean up immediately.
The clean up: What can you do before the adjuster arrived from the insurance company.
- Take pictures of everything, before you or anyone do any work what so ever.
- Clean up areas of the house so that wall, and floor damage can be easily seen.
- There can be hidden damage, such as behind the walls so it will be reassessed as work begins.
- Reach out to government agencies for potential assistance for aid. (Please note that a federal disaster must be declared for you to apply for this type of assistance.
- Hire an electrician to come in and assess the safety of electrical system of the home. This will tell you what is safe and not safe to turn on (Never turn on equipment that was submerged any salvageable items could spark and become a total loss)
- Check with the local town to see if the water is safe to use or if it was adversely affected by the flood waters.
- Go through your food and make sure you throw out anything not in a metal can. Make sure you get rid of the labels and get new ones. To identify the food later. The cans must be washed if you are going to keep them . o.
- All your silverware and utensils have to be cleaned and sorted. Wood, plastic or anything no metal or ceramic needs to go
- Cut and remove walls (Even if they do not look damaged)
- If you see a water line ..Cut the wall at a minimum of 2 feet above that line.
- Remove insulation and yes throw it away.
- Take off the base boards , they may be able to be dried and saved but at least removing them assured they are not holding in moisture.
- It is recommended anything that cannot be dry cleaned should be thrown away. This includes but is not limited to furniture, clothing, and blankets.
- Carpets must be pulled up and while the carpet may be able to be cleaned and dried the pad cannot so throw that way.. Do not re-attach the carpet before the floor it sits on is fully dry (Yes we have to say that again) To avoid any issues make sure that you do this within 48hrs after the water goes down so that it does not have a chance to grow anything it should not be growing (which is anything)
- Flooring: Be it if you have wood, vinyl, laminate or tile if it was submerged in flood water it really has to go.
- If you are not sure if the tile or its adhesive is asbestos get it tested.
- If it is a painted surface and you are not sure about the presence of Lead that too should be tested.
- This step while will be a bit of a delay keeps you, your family and the workers safe.
- Subfloors: Guess what your floors sit on a floor and regardless of what sort of main floor you have most of the time the subfloor is plywood and will be affected by the water. The top floor must be removed so that this level of floor can dry fully. Make sure you do not have any buckling before you put a new floor on top once it is dry. If so you may need to replace that.
- Set up fans and Dehumidifiers to created a vortex to encourage drying. Proper fan positioning and temperature regulation will speed up the drying process.
- ****BLEACH**** DOES NOT KILL MOLD… PERIOD….
- If you see mold… There is a very specific process that must be followed. The most important step is to NOT spread the spores all over the house. So DO NOT VACUUM them unless you have a hepa-vacuum.
Contact a professional and keep in mind this is not a two or three day process. Have the right expectations going in to this. It will ease your mind and reduce the amount of stress that you have. Expecting something to be done to fast can result in long term damage that will cost more. It will also put undue stress on all involved. Take a step back and know that it could be a month or even more depending on how extensive the damage is.