Pipes freeze in the winter. Hurricanes hit in the summer. Hot water heaters get old. There are numerous reasons why a house may flood, including heavy rains and backed up toilets. When water impacts your basement or an entire floor of your house, you need to act quickly (within 24 to 48 hours) to limit permanent damage and ensure mold doesn’t set in. It’s stressful, so if your house is in a part of the world that’s more inclined to moisture, you need to be prepared.
Protect Your Health
Water in your home could be contaminated by sewage or household chemicals. If you have to go into the water, wear waders, or hip, or waist-high waterproof boots to protect yourself. Also pull on rubber gloves before removing any possessions damaged by water and coming into contact with contaminants. You’ll probably want to have an 95 mask or N100 respirator to protect yourself from any mold particles in the air.
Do an Initial Inspection
A severe flood can compromise the walls, foundation and framework of your house. Check the rooms for any visible damage. If the water is still in your house, you may need to wait until it’s out before doing a full inspection. Look for structural damage, including warping of floorboards and tiles, loosened or cracked foundation elements. Also poke around outside for cracks and holes before anyone can enter the home.
Utility companies, such as water, gas, electric, and sewer, need to be contacted if there is a flood. Make sure to turn off the main, plus any individual connections, so that in the case the power does get reactivated, you aren't risking your life by standing in water.
Notify Your Insurance Company
After a flood, your insurance company should be informed as soon as possible. Keep a copy of your insurance agent's phone number is your safety kit. You will need to work thoroughly with your insurance company to determine the cause of the flood in your home and the amount of your coverage.
Before any water is removed, or repairs are conducted by a company like Flood Contractors, take pictures or video to document the damage that has been done for your insurance company. Digital photos are probably the wisest choice since they can be stored and sent electronically as well as easily copied. If you remove water or start repairing anything before pictures have been taken, you may decrease your compensation from the insurer.
Tips on Flood cleanup from Matt Risinger
Now it’s time to get your hands wet and your feet dirty. As soon as the insurer has given the go-ahead to remove water, use a sump pump, and a wet vac to start cleaning up the water. You may want to consider renting or buying a used carpet blower. If more than a few inches of water has seeped into the house, you’ll probably be using these for drying the floor than the carpet. It’s likely the carpet will need to be replaced. A strong humidifier or can also be useful for drying moisture. Open your windows and doors to allow fresh air into the house.
Alleviate Mold Damage
Mold can develop within 24 to 48 hours of a flood, so don’t let water sit if you can help it. Remove all wet content and dispose of it, including carpeting and bedding. If objects have been wet for less than 48 hours, they might be able to be saved. As you remove items, you need to document and notify your insurance company to ensure that your coverage is not being affected.
How to fix moldy walls by The Handyman.
Protect Your Property
You are responsible for protecting your property to ensure no additional damage occurs. If you have broken windows, board them. Secure tarps on a damaged roof. Take photos to prove to the insurance company that you are securing your home against any further damage.
Consider an Alarm System
Flood damage can be costly, and water damage can have a long-term destructive effect on your health and to the value of your home. It is essential to be prepared for the what-ifs, and having an alarm system that can detect leaks or floods helps in protecting your investments and home.