A house flood is one of the most damaging and devastating thing for a homeowner, and with hurricane season around the corner it is possible that at some point you could find yourself dealing with a house flood. There are several reasons that your house may begin to flood.
- Heavy rains
- Sewer back-up
- Malfunctioning sump-pump
- Burst pipes
No matter what the cause, you should still know what you should do if your house floods. Taking care of the problem earlier will help reduce the amount of damage after and will make clean-up and repair easier. Here are a few tips on what steps to take in case your home floods.
The first step in any major home disaster is to remain safe. You may be forced to leave your home if the flooding is bad enough. Make sure you are also safe when you return to your home to begin dealing with the aftermath. This may include turning off the power, as water and electricity obviously do not mix. Be sure to wear protective clothing–such as rubber boots and gloves–when you reenter your home. Not only will you be dealing with the water itself, but also whatever else the water has been in contact with, namely debris or even sewage. It is best to protect yourself against whatever harmful chemicals and items the flooding may have washed in.
Be sure to never eat food that has been contaminated by flood waters, or even in close proximity to the water for an extended period of time. If the water was high enough to reach your refrigerator or any of your pantry cabinets, it is safest practice to go ahead and throw the food away and just buy more. Be sure to thoroughly wash any dinnerware, glasses, and flatware that might have been caught in the house flood before you use it again.
Call Your Insurance Company
Your homeowners’ insurance will vary depending on what policies you have. The insurance company will send an adjuster to look at and assess the damage and determine if it is a covered loss.
Document the values of each and every item you can think of and take as many photos as possible before, during, and after cleanup. This will help the adjuster when he or she is able to come assess the damage.
Note: Not all home insurance policies cover flood damage. Flood insurance is purchased seperately and added to your homeowner policy.
Start Water Damage Repair Immediately
If possible, water damage restoration should start 24-48 hours after you’ve been cleared to re-enter your home. In many situations, the damage is too extensive for one person or family. Get help from a restoration service to stay safe and ensure all damage is removed.
If you decide to begin the drying process yourself, make sure you wear protective gear. Determine what is salvageable and throw away anything that is too damaged or no longer safe to use.
Be aware that you may need to remove flooring, drywall, and insulation to prevent mold and mildew from spreading in your home. Furniture may also need to be dried out, cleaned or thrown away depending on the level of water damage.
Dry Out Your Home
Once all standing water is removed from your home, you will still have to tend to damp belongings, particularly if you live in a very humid area. If you are able to get your electricity back on, use central air conditioning to remove humidity. Floor fans such as Air Movers and dehumidifiers can help dry damp areas of your home as well.
Avoid mildew, molds, and other lingering issues that could result if you rush back in. You may need the assistance of a professional restoration contractor.
Time is of the essence and studies show that starting the drying a home within the first 24 hours and completely drying a home within 3-4 days will almost completely remove the risk of mold and mildew.
Mold can begin developing after the first 24 hours of a flood, and once it has started growing it can be difficult to remove. The quicker you remove items from water and begin drying them, the less likely they are to be lost to mold.
If it gets bad, you’ll often have to completely remove the affected areas. It’s always best to err on the side of caution and have a professional assess the situation.
Preventing Mold After Water Damage
As soon as you discover water damage in your home, it’s important to take what measures you can to prevent mold. Be careful that you’re not spreading mold spores throughout your home as you’re attempting to dry things out.
Usually, it’s best to have a professional assist with the drying process, significantly lowering the chances of getting mold.
Hire an HVAC Specialist
Your heating and cooling system could have been damaged by flood waters, so have it checked by an HVAC specialist, especially if you suspect that water got into heat registers and/or ducts.
All damaged flooring (including laminate, hardwood, carpeting and tiling) should be ripped out, as well as the subfloor.
Laminate and hardwood floors will absorb water, swell and warp, including their subfloor. All water-damaged carpeting must be removed along with the underpad, especially if there is any natural fibre in it. If the carpet is made of synthetic material it can’t serve as a food source for mold, but the subfloor is going to be wood or OSB (oriented strand board, which is a composite wood product) and it’s likely that it will be soaked through. Even if you have tile, which doesn’t absorb water, the wood substrate will never completely dry out with tile over top of it. Any wet wood or OSB will lead to mold. Get rid of it.
Open Up Your Walls
Most walls are made of wood studs and drywall. Both will grow mold if there's moisture. Your contractor will need to open up your walls so the studs can dry out.
As a bare minimum your contractor should remove at least 1 foot of drywall above the water line, all the way down to the floor—the more the better. If they don’t, you will get mold and mildew.
Saturated batt insulation isn’t effective because it will compress and the air space gets full of water. Plus, the insulation will never completely dry out, which will keep moisture in your walls forever. That can lead to poor air quality, mold and mildew and further damage to your home’s structure from rot.
Let the Wall Cavity Dry Out
After your contractor has removed all the drywall and insulation, leave it open so that the wall cavity can dry out completely. This can take weeks. A wood stud that’s dry to the touch can still be wet in the middle. Your contractor should be using a moisture meter to know if the percentage of moisture is safe to start rebuilding.
Get an Air Test
Way too many families don’t do an air test inside their home. After a flood, you must test the air quality of your home to confirm it matches outdoor conditions. If not, get out.
Move Back In
Once you have the go ahead from your insurance company, your restoration/construction company, and your local government(in the case of natural disasters), it’s time to move back into your clean, dry, mold-free home!