After a flood, it’s important to restore your home to good order as soon as possible to protect your health and prevent further damage to your house and belongings. Whether you do the work yourself or hire a certified restoration company, this handy checklist will help you organize the clean up.
When it comes to water cleanup, immediate action is important. When it comes to water and flood damage, your home and furnishings are less likely to grow mold if they are dried within 24-48 hours.
If you decide to tackle water damage on by yourself and it becomes too much for you at any point, make sure you have the number of a trusted certified restoration company. Flood damage that is not properly taken care of and dried out and lead to bigger and more expensive problems involving mold.
IN THIS GUIDE:
We will be offering you a step-by-step action plan to remove all water, mud and other debris; dispose of contaminated household goods; rinse away contamination inside the home; remove the rinse water; clean and dry out your house and salvageable possessions.
BEFORE YOU BEGIN:
Put your own safety first. When it comes to house flood, the number one safety concern for homeowners is electrical shock. Avoid shock by wearing rubber boots and keeping extension cords out of the water. Shut the power off to the flooded area at the breaker box. Call your utility company, electrician or restoration company for help if needed.
RECORD THE DAMAGE:
Record details of damage, with photos or video if possible. Contact your insurance agent immediately and register with your municipality—your municipality may have resources you need, such as future financial assistance.
BE PREPARED TO GET RID OF ITEMS:
Be prepared to make difficult decisions about what to keep and what to throw out. Household items that have been contaminated by sewage, or that have been wet for a long time, will have to be bagged, tagged and discarded according to local regulations.
If you are attempting to cleanup water damage by yourself, you will need to gather water cleanup equipment and supplies to include the following:
- gloves, masks (N95 respirators) and other protective gear
- pails, mops, squeegees and plastic garbage bags
- unscented detergent
- large containers for wet bedding and clothing, & lines to hang them to dry
- you may also need to rent extension cords, submersible pumps, wet/dry shop vacuums and dehumidifiers or heaters.
FIRST STEPS TO CLEANING UP A HOUSE FLOOD:
1. Store valuable papers that have been damaged in a freezer until you have time to work on them. Remove standing water with pumps or pails, then with a wet/dry shop vacuum.
2. Remove all soaked and dirty materials and debris, including wet insulation and drywall, residual mud and soil, furniture, appliances, clothing and bedding.
3. Hose down any dirt sticking to walls and furnishings, then rinse several times, removing the remaining water with a wet/dry shop vacuum. Rinse, then clean all floors as quickly as possible. Flooring that has been deeply penetrated by flood water or sewage should be discarded.
4. Work from the top down. Break out all ceilings and walls that have been soaked or that have absorbed water. Remove materials at least 500 mm (20 in.) above the high-water line. Removing only the lower part of the wall applies if action is taken immediately after the flood or wetting event. Gypsum board walls that have been exposed to high humidity or standing water for a prolonged period of time should be removed in their entirety and discarded. Ceiling tiles and panelling should be treated like drywall.
5. Wash and wipe/scrub down all affected or flooded surfaces with unscented detergent and water. Rinse. Repeat the process as needed. Concrete surfaces can be cleaned with a solution of TSP (tri-sodium phosphate) in water (one half cup TSP to one gallon of warm water). When using TSP, which is highly corrosive, wear gloves and eye protection.
6. Bleach is not recommended. The presence of organic materials, the pH of the water, the surface material and contact time affect the effectiveness of bleach for disinfection. Since these factors are not generally controlled, bleach cannot be relied upon for disinfection. The most compelling reason for advising against bleach is that fumes are harmful but in addition, overuse of bleach will result in increased releases of chlorinated effluents, which can be harmful to the environment.
7. Surfaces that are dry and/or have not been directly affected by the flood water should be vacuumed with a HEPA vacuum cleaner. Further cleaning of concrete surfaces can be done with TSP. Washable surfaces can be washed with unscented detergent and water. Surface mold on wood can be removed with a vacuum-sander. Do not sand without simultaneous vacuuming. Wood that looks moldy after sanding may need to be replaced.
8. After cleaning the surfaces, ventilate or dehumidify the house until it is completely dry. Rapid drying is important to prevent mold growth. When the outside weather permits (low humidity and moderate temperature), open doors and windows and hasten the drying process with fans. If the outside weather is not suitable and you notice that drying is not happening fast, use dehumidifying equipment, renting extra units as necessary.
9. To determine if the outdoor air can help dry the air inside, place a hygrometer in the area to be dried. Let it stabilize then open a window and monitor the Relative Humidity (RH). If it goes down then it means the air is dry enough to assist the drying process. If the RH increases, close the window.
10. Carpets must be dried within two days. Sewage-soaked carpets must be discarded. Homeowners can’t effectively dry large areas of soaked carpets themselves. Qualified professionals are required.
11. Ensure that all interior cavities and structural members are completely dry (which could take weeks) before closing cavities.
WHAT TO KEEP OR DISCARD:
When it comes to flood damage, this can be one of the most devastating steps in water damage cleanup. Having to throw away valuables and precious belongings can be extremely hard on homeowners. Unfortunately, if items come in contact with water for an extended period of time, they will begin to grow mold. Throwing away items is especially important if the item has come in contact with contaminated water such as actual flood water or sewage back up.
1. Discard and replace all insulation materials, and all less-expensive articles that have been soaked, including particleboard furniture, mattresses, box springs, stuffed toys, pillows, paper and books.
2. The most important part of salvaging a photograph is to be careful not to touch the image when wet. If the photos are inside a wet photo albums, carefully pull out photos and lay them out separately without touching each other. Contact a photo restorer for further help.
3. Separate valuable papers. Ask a lawyer whether you should save the papers themselves or just the information on them.
4. The frames of good quality wood furniture can sometimes be salvaged, but must be cleaned and dried by ventilation away from direct sunlight or heat. Consult a furniture restoration specialist. Coverings, paddings and cushions must be discarded and replaced.
5. Scrape heavy dirt from washable clothes, rinse and wash several times with detergent and dry quickly.
BEFORE MOVING BACK IN:
Do not use flooded appliances, electrical outlets, switch boxes or fuse/breaker panels until they have been checked by your local utility.
If they have been soaked, consult an HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) contractor to replace the furnace blower motor, switches and controls, insulation and filters. Inspect all flooded forced air heating ducts and return-duct pans and have them cleaned out or replaced.
Seek advice from your local utility about a water heater that has been wet. Refrigerators and freezers may need to be replaced.
Flush floor drains and sump pits with detergent and water and scrub them to remove greasy dirt and grime. Clean footing drains outside the foundation if necessary.
REMEMBER YOU CAN ALWAYS CALL FOR HELP!
Dealing with a house flood can wreak havoc on your life as well as the lives of your family members. You don’t have to go it alone. It is a good idea to know the number of a trusted certified water damage restoration company ahead of time so you can call them in an emergency. When it comes to flooding, the most important thing is safety. Never put yourself into a situation you are uncomfortable with. Restoration companies specialize in helping the victims of flooding and other water damage disasters. They will get you and your home back to pre-flood condition in no time.
Source by Jon H