How to Start Cleanup After a Flood
If you just experienced a flood, your basement or the lower levels of your house may have taken on water damage. Effects of floods may be expensive to fix but not doing so can lead to health problems and further home damage. If you have just experienced a flood or think you may in the future, there are a few things you should know.
Preparing For Flooding
Find Out if You Live in a Flood-Prone Area
The most important thing you can do before a potential flood is find out if you live in a flood plain or an area that is prone to flooding. Most localities have elevation maps provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
If you access these on your local governments website, it should alert you to parts of the county that have low elevation, which increases your risk of flooding, or which areas of the county are in flood plains.
Purchase Flood Insurance
Most homeowners insurance policies do not include flood damage coverage. If you live in a flood-prone area, make sure you get extra insurance.
Install a Sump Pump
Another way to help mitigate the effect of flooding is through sump pumps. Sump pumps are normally located at the lowest point of your home and help push groundwater away from the foundation. Having one can greatly reduce the effects of flooding in your home.
Keep Sandbags Nearby
If you know your area could be affected by a flood, it may be a good idea to purchase sand bags. Sand bags can be deployed around the foundation of your house to divert water away.
The sandbags will act as a barrier for the water, and in cases of low-level flooding, water can be redirected away from your home’s foundation. These are also a good option if you hear that your area has a warning for flash floods.
After Flood Cleanup Tips
Call Your Insurance Company
The very first thing you should do if your home has flooded is call your insurance company. If your flooding is due to a disaster, be patient. There are likely many people trying to file insurance claims.
Your insurance company will not only start the claim process, they will likely recommend companies to call to start the drying process.
Dry Out Your Home
Once you’ve called the insurance company, it’s time to start the drying process in your home. If you have more than a few centimeters of water, it may be worth investing in a wet vac. If there’s only a little bit of water, towels and other cloths should be fine to absorb any water.
If possible, run your air conditioner, any fans you have, and a dehumidifier to help get the water out as quickly as possible. The more quickly you dry everything out, the less likely you’ll have mold growth.
If the flood was due to a disaster such as hurricanes or flash floods, be very careful when coming back to your home. Downed power lines or submerged electrical equipment can make your home hazardous. Keep an eye on the news to know when it’s safe to return to the disaster area.
Sort Through Your Furniture
If your furniture has been standing in water for any length of time, you may have to get rid of it. Wood furniture will likely get water damage very quickly. Other solid wood, such as flooring, may be completely irreparable. Any upholstered furniture can harbor mold spores and are great places for them to grow.
Clean Everything in Your Home
After your home has flooded, you may not know where to begin cleaning or how. When you start cleaning, the best place to start is with a simple mixture of disinfectant soap and water. This mixture can be used to disinfect your floors, walls, and closets.
While you can use a strong disinfectant or bleach to clean affected areas instead of soapy water, it is important not to create a combination of any of them in order to prevent a volatile reaction. If you use bleach, wear rubber gloves to protect your skin.
Make sure you clean any clothes, rugs, or other fabric items that were exposed to floodwater. Flood water may contain chemicals and bacteria, so it is important to disinfect these items before they are worn or used. The best way to clean fabric is to wash it with hot water and detergent in your washing machine.
Remove Any Mold As Soon as Possible
When repairing your home after flood damage, you will most likely deal with mold. Mold spores grow in wet environments and can be prominent in still water. These mold spores can appear in your home as soon as 48 hours after a flood and may be deadly.
When removing mold, make sure you protect your eyes by wearing protective eyewear. Also, wear a respiratory mask so the mold cannot reach your lungs.
After you have put on the proper safety equipment, you can remove mold with soap and a sponge. After cleaning the visible mold off, you’ll need to bleach the area to make sure any hidden spores don’t reproduce. Mix a capful of bleach with a gallon of water, and carefully clean the area with it.
Once your home is clean and dry, you can look into repairing and replacing anything that was broken or destroyed by the flood. And if cleaning up after the flood feels like it’s going to be more difficult than expected, call a water damage restoration specialist for help.