Every home owner’s nightmare is to get that call that tells them their home has been flooded. First, because the harm is usually considerable, and, secondly, because cleaning the mess is the last thing anyone wants to deal with. Water is messy, and, if it comes from a source that has been contaminated, like a sewer, it can even be risky, as it will carry all sorts of germs and parasites.
However, when this happens, there’s no time to lose. You can get sad and angry afterward when everything has been secured and you have made sure everybody in your residence is safe. Plus, if you act fast, you can even reduce the damage, and the rehabilitation operations can go more smoothly.
These being said, it’s time to establish some steps and get to work. Make sure to follow our sequence exactly as described, as if you interchange some steps you may not get full coverage from your insurer.
Take Safety Measures
No matter if you are at home when the flooding starts or you find it later, there are some actions you will need to accomplish to make sure you can move around the site safely:
- Cut the water – Unless you are dealing with a natural disaster, detect the cause and remove it. You may need to patch it, so do it fast. Don’t worry about the aesthetics at this point, this is not the final repair. Just make sure the water flow is discontinued.
- Cut the power – Water and electricity don’t work well together. In fact, this combination can prove fatal, as water is an excellent electricity conductor. You can get electrocuted if you walk through the water or if you touch wet walls or objects, so the action you should take at this moment is to cut the electrical current. If you have a panel that is mounted outside the house, you can do it yourself, but if the panel is installed inside the house, you will need to leave this job to a specialist.
- Check the building’s structural safety – If you have dealt with extensive flooding, the walls or the ceilings may have been affected to a degree to which they can collapse. You shouldn’t get inside until you are sure they are stable. So, take a close inspection of the exterior of the house. Check for cracks or extensive damage. If you spot something of this kind, it is better to get professional help.
- Make sure every family member is safe – Get everybody out, people and pets, and make sure they haven’t been injured. If the disaster has been caused by a natural event, you may need to find shelter for your pets until the problem is solved.
- Get protection equipment – You are about to go into a space filled with possibly contaminated water, so you should try to elude bacteria exposure. Get yourself a pair of waterproof boots and waders. And don’t touch the water directly.
no images were found
Once you’ve convinced yourself that the harm is done and the only thing you can do is to engage in a difficult restoration process, your first impulse will be to start evacuating the water. Nonetheless, it still isn’t the right moment to do it. You will need to show your insurer how high the damage is, and, if you start cleaning, when they arrive, the problem may seem smaller than it really is.
It is time to take out your phone and start photographing everything. Shoot the water to show the level it has reached. If the water level started somehow to drop, photograph the walls to show how high it has reached. Shoot the furniture and the objects around, including carpets and upholstery. If you are dealing with contaminated water, they will need to be expertly cleaned, and the costs can go as high as $100 to $500 for a single carpet.
Call Your Insurer
It’s time to let your insurer know about what happened. They may ask you to send photos and, in most cases, will assign an inspector to evaluate the damage. Pay attention to what they have to say and follow their instructions. It is the only way to make sure that you will get full coverage for your problem. Do not start cleaning until they authorize you. And, when doing it, make sure to continue documenting every step. Take multiple photos and from different angles, so you can back up your description.
If you are a renter, you should call your landlord and inform them about the situation. They will need to deal with the problem as they are the owners. You will still have the right to receive payment for your broken possessions.
Remove the Water
Assuming that the insurance company has allowed you to start cleaning, you must arm yourself with a lot of patience and assess if you will need to buy some equipment to help you with the task.
Here’s what you may need:
- Sump pump – Removing the water is a tough job that needs to be performed fast, though, so the damage doesn’t get even larger. You will find a unit of this type at any hardware store, and it will cost you somewhere between 15 and 500 dollars. It will suck the water and pump it either horizontally or vertically to a certain height. Thus you can direct it outside the house to a sewer or a dry well.
- Wet vacuum – These units are specifically crafted to suck liquids, so you will get the job done faster with one. The price can be somewhere between 40 and 130 dollars.
You can also choose to take out the water by using buckets. However, be aware that water is heavy, so you should be set to endure extended effort. Asking for help could be a good idea. Ask your neighbors. They can be surprisingly cooperative in these circumstances.
When the water level has decreased, start getting your furniture and objects outside. Decide what can be restored and what has been irremediably broken and make two piles. You may need to look for a way to dispose of the destroyed items if they are in a large number.
Don’t Let Mold Take over Your House
The water is out of your house. Or isn’t it? While you may not be walking through puddles anymore, a large quantity of water has been absorbed by the floor, walls, and ceiling. It may have even infiltrated into your house’s foundation. This is just the perfect environment for mold to settle and flourish, and be assured that it won’t take long for it to do it. In fact, in less than 24 to 48 hours you may be noticing the first signs of mold.
Drying out your home is vital, and if some rooms are easier to treat, as they have windows and can receive fresh air easier, some spaces will never dry out unless you help them. If the water has invaded the space between the first floor and the ground, you will need the best crawl space dehumidifier to get the dampness out and stop the mold from settling in. Also, note that this space plays a crucial role in the integrity of your building so you will want it dry and in perfect condition.
If the other rooms are having a hard time drying, you can add dehumidifiers in each of them or use fans to circulate the air and lower humidity. If you are lucky (yes, you can be lucky even in this situation) and the flooding happens in the summer, the high temperatures and the sun will help your home recover faster.
Remove All Traces
Shovel all the mud or dirt out and start scrubbing the surfaces. You will need a solution with disinfectant properties that can kill the bacteria left behind by the water. You can use tri-sodium phosphate or washing soda. The recommended dose is four to six spoons to one gallon of water. When you are done cleaning, combine half a cup of chlorine with 1 gallon of water and make supplementary disinfection.
If you are trying to save wood surfaces, the products from above are mild enough not to damage them, so you can use them with confidence. Disinfect them too, along with all the objects you have saved, then dry them carefully.
Prevent Flooding from Happening Again
There are cases in which flooding just happens, and there’s nothing you can do. But more frequently, this issue has to do with plumbing or structural problems. This is good news, though, because it means you are in control.
Here’s a list with the measures you can take to keep your home safe in the future:
- Identify the problems that can lead to flooding – If your house is positioned at the bottom of a slope, you can consider raising it on piers. This will be an important investment, but every inch above the water level will count. On the other hand, if flooding is more prone to occur due to an old plumbing installation or damaged appliances, it’s time to get them fixed or replaced.
- Get a permanent sump pump – If water tends to gather around the foundation of your home and flood the basement often, this unit can help you minimize the damage considerably. At the same time, you can install foundation vents, which allow the water to flow through your home into a secure drain point instead of gathering around the walls and damaging them.
- Buy a water leak detector – It will alert you if the water has reached a certain level in your basement. Thus, you can deal with the problem while it is still little. These systems can sound for up to three days, and, if you pick a smart one, you can check on your phone the conditions around it.
Water damage restorations can be hard. There is the physical work, and there is the loss of valuable belongings, which can sometimes be irreplaceable. However, there’s still enough hope that you will see your home dry and clean again. Just gather your forces, and your friends, and follow the steps from above.
If you listen to their instructions, the inspectors at the insurance company will be able to make a correct damage assessment and you will receive the money to bring your house to the stage it was before the flood.
During the restoration, pay attention to the problem that has caused the flood in the first place and solve it. Then, make sure to disinfect and dry your home. And maybe redecorate. This will offer you a whole new perspective.