What to Do If Your House Floods
If you or someone you know has recently become the victim of a major flood due to a storm or other cause, you know exactly how traumatic a flooded house can be. Even minor flooding can inflict severe damage in its wake to homes and businesses. It’s important to know what to do after a flooded home to minimize the damage it can cause.
We will walk you through how to deal with flood damage and start you on your road to recovering your home and your life.
Steps to Take with a Flooded House
- Make sure It’s Safe to Return
- Document the Damage
- Call for Help
- Make an Insurance Claim
- Start Cleaning your Flooded Home
1. Make Sure It’s Safe To Return Home
Keep a check on the latest flood updates and don’t return to your house until local officials have declared the region out of danger. In the event of a house flood, turn off the electricity before entering your home. All electrical systems should be turned off as long as you can reach the fuse box without going through water. If you can’t access your fuse box, wait for a professional to do so.
If the flooding has been caused by a burst pipe or leaky appliances, stop more water from coming in by turn off the water supply immediately to your house.
If you enter your home after any kind of flooding, make sure you’re wearing protective equipment. Not only can there be sharp objects under the water that can injure you, the water may have been contaminated by human waste, trash, or even chemicals.
2. Document the damage
Before you clean up the property, make sure you take pictures and notes of details for your insurance claim. The more information you have prepared for the insurance claim, the more likely it is that your claim will be accepted.
When looking for damage, look for buckled walls or floors as indicators of structural damage. If you notice these signs, the area is at risk of collapse and you shouldn’t enter it.
Call for Help
Once your family members, including both humans and pets, have reached a safe place, immediately seek assistance if anyone requires medical attention by calling 911. The flooding may have already caused damage to your home, but your top priority is the well-being of yourself and your loved ones. Once you have confirmed their safety, you can begin the recovery process by contacting the appropriate parties.
For renters, inform your landlord of the situation as soon as possible after ensuring that everyone in the home is safe. It is recommended to have your landlord’s contact information saved in your phone.
Homeowners should contact their insurer to report the water damage to their home.
3. Making an Insurance Claim
Next, report the flood damages to your home insurance company. A flooded house can lead to major damages to your belongings. If you have flood insurance, you’ll have financial support to recover from a flood caused by a natural disaster. Floods caused by appliances or sewer backups tend to be covered by homeowners insurance.
Based on the evidence, you may be able to get your damaged items replaced or have professional help to clean up.
However remember that homeowners insurance commonly doesn’t cover flood damage. If you want more detail about how flood insurance works, check out our Flood Insurance Guide.
4. Flooded House Clean Up
If you don’t get professional help provided by your insurance company, it’s important to get started with your flooded house cleanup immediately. The longer you wait, the more likely it is that your water damage will cause mold and mildew growth in your home, requiring a professional to remove.
Water that seeps into carpeting can quickly form mold and mildew, both of which can be harmful to you and your family and are expensive to remove. Carpets and rugs should be dried as quickly as possible after excess flood water has been removed. Open all windows in the house in order to allow faster drying and to further prevent mold growth.
In some cases, it may be easier to simply remove and replace carpeting than attempt to dry it out without growing mold.
If left untreated, flood damage can cause major structural issues within the foundation of your home. Make sure you remove as much water as possible quickly after flooding has stopped.
A sump pump is the best choice to take care of that in most cases. However, if the flooding was severe and there was more than one floor underwater, you may need to get professional help.
For hardwood floors, read here for more in depth steps to minimize damage.
Though the majority of flood-damaged furniture is relatively difficult to salvage, certain pieces can be saved with thorough cleaning and care. Leather furniture is most frequently counted as a total loss, but if the damage is minimal, it may be possible to replace certain parts and save the entire piece.
When treating upholstered furniture that has been submerged in flood water for an extended period, consider the fact that cushions and other fillings will most likely need to be replaced. Even if dried completely, this type of stuffing can harbor millions of microscopic mold spores.
Wooden furniture is the easiest type to repair. Most of the original wood can be replaced if it’s water damaged.
Safety with electrical appliances
Electrical appliances that have been submerged, even for a short period, should not be used until they are serviced by a certified electrical repair professional. A flooded house can lead to an electrical fire, make sure appliances are unplugged, but do not attempt to dry them yourself.
Safety with gas appliances
Gas appliances that have been damaged by flood water should also be inspected and repaired by a certified professional before they are used. Even if a gas appliance appears to be functioning properly, it is possible that its safety features have been disabled by the presence of standing water, making them extremely dangerous to operate. Gas leaks, also often caused by flood water damage, can cause fires and explosions if exposed to flame.
Ways to Prevent Flooding in Your Home
If you live near any bodies of fresh or saltwater such as rivers, lakes, oceans, etc., then there’s always a chance that flooding could occur at some point during the year. While many people think they know how to prepare their homes against floods, few actually understand the full extent of the problem. If you want to protect yourself and your home from future flooding events, here are a few ways to prevent them.
Preventing Flood Damage
The key to preventing flooding is understanding where the risk lies. The National Weather Service offers several tools to determine whether or not your area faces a high probability of flooding. These include maps showing areas prone to flash flooding and storm surge, along with information about rainfall amounts and frequency.
You can also use these resources to identify potential hazards within your own neighborhood. For example, if you notice large trees growing close together, this might indicate that heavy rainstorms tend to cause runoff problems. In addition, knowing what types of weather conditions trigger severe storms can give you more time to plan ahead and avoid a flooded house.
1. Know Where Water Can Enter
Knowing where water enters your home is just as important as knowing where it leaves in preventing a flooded house. This includes identifying vulnerable points like doors, windows, chimneys, pipes, drains, roof vents, skylights, sump pumps, basement walls, crawl spaces, foundation cracks, and so forth.
Once you’ve identified those places, you’ll need to find solutions to keep water from entering. A simple solution would be caulking around door frames and window openings; however, if you suspect that a pipe under the ground floor is leaking, you’ll need to dig down and fix the leak.
2. Preventing Water Leaks and Damage
Once you know where water can get into your house, you should take steps to minimize its impact on your property. One way to accomplish this goal is by installing a sump pump. Sump pumps work by drawing excess water out of basements through underground piping. However, if you already have an existing drain system in place, you may be able to install one instead.
Another option is to build up the soil surrounding your home’s foundations using sandbags. Sandbag construction involves filling bags with dirt or sand and stacking them outside until needed. It costs less than building a concrete wall but provides better protection against flood damage.
If your house has flooded once, it can flood again, so take measures to prevent or mitigate flood damage in the future. Be prepared for the next time by reconstructing your home with flood-proof materials and using techniques that will minimize damage.
One of the most important things you can do if your home is at serious risk for floods is investing in flood insurance. If you are wondering if your home is at risk of flooding, FEMA has a resource available to look up if your address is in a flood zone.
Homes at high risk for flood should invest in the most comprehensive insurance possible to make sure your family is protected.
You should also make sure you keep comprehensive inventories of your belongings to make sure your insurance claims are as accurate as possible.
Who to Call When your House Floods?
When a flood strikes, the best thing that you can do is to act quickly. The damage caused by a flood can grow exponentially worse if left untreated. Fortunately, following the above mentioned tips can help you salvage a large portion of your possessions and help to expedite the process of reclaiming your home.
If you’ve experienced a house flood contact Jenkins Restorations’ 24/7 to repair the damage and get your home back to normal.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is my house flooding?
There are multiple reasons your home may be flooding including a broken pipe or drain line, you live in a natural flooding location, or malfunctioning appliances. Make sure to also monitor leaky gutters, your lawn, and sewer lines when there are concerns of your home flooding.
Can floods destroy homes?
Yes, Floods can destroy homes. Floods can cause broken or jammed doors and windows or even your homes foundation to shift. If your home’s foundation shifts, doors and windows may be affected. The frames may be distorted, and the glass in your windows may break. If doors and windows don’t open, they’re a sign that damage has occurred.