Flooding can bring a number of potential dangers to a homeowner. Even if only minimal water accumulates inside of the house, there will be plenty of work to do cleaning up and minimizing the risks that are involved.
Before You Get Started With Clean Up
If you are going to file an insurance claim, it is important that you document the extent of the damage before you begin any cleanup efforts. Pictures and measurements are effective, but video is even better if possible. Make notes of the water depth and if there is any debris or other concerns. The insurance company will inform you of what you should do next, including whether you can start cleaning before an adjuster examines the damages.
Note: Before entering a flood damaged home, make sure that it is structurally sound and that there are no potential hazards, such as downed live wires. Your wiring should be evaluated before it is turned back on, especially if the water was high enough to enter sockets. Wear protective gear, including boots and gloves, before entering, and be sure that you are washing your hands after any contact with flood water.
Stage One: Remove Water and Mud and Dry Things Out
Your very first priority is to get rid of the water, mud, and standing debris and to start trying to dry things out as much as possible. If your electricity has been safely restored, you can use wet vacuums and fans to begin drying out the area. Be aware that you cannot pump huge amounts of water out of your home at one time, especially if you are routing it outdoors. The water table will be overly saturated, and that water will end up right back inside of your house.
• Start getting water out of the basement a small bit at a time, and then move to the next level of your house.
• If there is only a small amount of water on your floors, you can use a push broom or shovel to direct it out of open doors or toward drains.
• Use a shovel to remove mud and debris to be disposed of later. Do not allow children or pets to play in this mud as it could be potentially contaminated.
• Starting with hard or non-porous surfaces, disinfect as much as possible while continuing the drying out process to minimize the risk of mold.
Stage Two: Assess and Sanitize
After the majority of the water, mud, and debris are removed, it is time to assess the damage and determine what can be salvaged and what will need to be removed for safety purposes.
Walls and Flooring
• All walls will need to be wiped down with a strong disinfectant. Drywall may need to be cut out and replaced, especially if water was left standing for a long period of time.
• Insulation may also need to be removed and replaced, especially the fiberglass or blown in variety as it will hold moisture and may allow dangerous mold to grow.
• The subflooring must be inspected for any signs of damage or excess moisture. Fully saturated carpets and under padding may need to be replaced.
• Throw rugs and runners may be washed and sanitized in hot water and strong detergent.
• Everything that was touched by flood water must be thoroughly washed and sanitized in the hottest water possible. Anything that cannot be washed in water should be thrown away.
• All towels, pillows, and bedding should be sanitized in the same manner.
Toys and Children’s Items
• All hard toys should be soaked in a bleach solution for at least 24 hours, thoroughly rinsed, and then air-dried.
• Any bath or teething toy with holes that could contain flood water should be discarded.
• Stuffed toys that can go in the washer should be washed in hot water and then dried thoroughly. If the toys were soaked but allowed to dry before sanitizing, they will need to be thrown away.
• All baby clothes and bedding should be sanitized in hot water with strong detergent, dried, and then rewashed in their regular detergent to prevent irritating the baby’s delicate skin.
Dishes and Utensils
All dishes and utensils should be soaked in a 1:5 bleach and water solution for 24 hours. Then they should be washed and rinsed in very hot water and then allowed to air dry. This includes drinking glasses and serving pieces.
Stage Three: Getting Rid of the Unsalvageable and the Dangerous
Trying to save as many of your possessions as possible is normal, but for safety’s sake, there are some things that should be tossed before any effort is wasted. If possible, get a dumpster with a tight lid during this time or hire a junk removal team like JDog Junk Removal and Hauling, especially if there are a lot of items that are in need of disposal.
• All food items, even those in sealed cans or jars, should be thrown away if there is any chance that it has come in contact with any flood waters. Be sure to double bag these items so that pests are not drawn to them during the cleanup process.
• All mattresses should be disposed of because there is no way to safely disinfect them thoroughly.
• All rugs, carpets, and other flooring that could not be cleaned and sanitized should be removed as quickly as possible.
• Drapes that cannot be cleaned should also be removed, especially if they have been soaking water for days.
• Building material such as flooring, walls, and insulation that cannot be saved should also be double bagged and removed as quickly as possible to minimize the chance of mold growth and other possible hazards.
Cleaning up after a house floods is much more than aesthetics, it is also vital to preserving the health and safety of those living in that home. Be diligent and thorough during the cleanup process and if there is even the slightest chance an object is contaminated beyond repair, then throw it away rather than taking the risk.