Many people struggle to cope with the aftermath of a flood, mainly because it’s a rather traumatic and destructive event. Even though water may not seem particularly dangerous in most cases, rest assured that it can completely destroy everything in its path as long as the conditions allow. The most devastating fact about floods is that you can’t do anything once it starts. People work hard to prevent floods, but it’s not something that’s always a guaranteed success. 

If you’re wondering how to deal with flood repairs and how to mitigate some of the damage done to your home, take a moment to check out some of the points we have made in this article. Bear in mind; these aren’t hard written rules but rather a list of guidelines foreseen to help you deal with flood aftermath. 

Things You Should Know Before Restoring 

There are a couple of things you should keep in the back of your mind before you start restoring your house. Most of these are elementary precautionary measures everyone should be familiar with, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth mentioning. 

They are as follows: 

  • Inspect the damage and determine whether it’s safe to enter
  • Check for leaks and fire hazards, make sure the electrical grid is not live 
  • Wear eye protection, rubber gloves, and sturdy shoes
  • Watch out for snakes and other potentially dangerous animals
  • Don’t mix chlorine with vinegar or ammonia 
  • Wear a respirator if mold is present

You can use the aforementioned list as a checklist before you start working on the actual renovation of your home. Safety is a crucial factor in the whole equation, so make sure you’re as safe as possible at all times, or else you could end up jeopardizing your wellbeing.

Flood Damage Cleanup Steps

  • Make Sure It’s Safe 

The first course of action is to make sure the environment is safe. That means you should check the electrical grid and make sure it’s not live. Subsequently, make sure everyone around you is safe from falling debris, new flood crests, and other potential dangers. 

It’s always a good idea to have a partner during these endeavors because two brains are always better than one. However, there shouldn’t be more than two people checking out the house immediately after the flood for safety reasons. Once you’ve made sure the environment is safe for work, it’s time to move onto the next step. 

  • Contact the Insurance Company 

If you have flood insurance (there’s no reason not to!), contact the insurance company as soon as you find out about the flood. However, before the adjuster arrives, you should take these steps: 

  • Start cleaning up, drying, and salvaging everything that can be salvaged. Don’t hesitate to take photos during this step, it will help you with insurance claims and can serve as evidence if needed
  • Keep the damaged stuff as evidence for proof of loss
  • Clean the house as much as you can so that the adjuster can clearly see the damage
  • The adjuster will then assess the damage and ask you to sign a proof of loss statement 
  • If you have no flood insurance, your homeowner’s insurance will (most likely) not cover the losses 
  • Sanitation of Damaged Goods

Many people wonder whether it’s safe to use the items that were damaged in a flood, and the answer to that question is not always conclusive. In other words, you can save some stuff, but most things that are left after a flood can be considered contaminated, so make sure you know what you’re doing. 

For example, water sources in damaged homes are usually not safe. That means you should never drink tap water immediately after a flood, nor should you use it for cooking or even washing. If you must use water from a source in a flooded home, make sure you boil it for at least a minute or two in order to sterilize it and make it as safe as possible. With that being said, you should always aim to avoid using contaminated water unless it’s absolutely necessary. 

As far as food goes, it’s a good idea to get rid of everything. Some people are okay with salvaging canned foods, but it’s not something we would recommend. Even though canned food seems to be protected from outside influences, it’s simply not worth taking the risk. 

Utensils are also one of the things that most people aren’t too sure about whether it’s worth salvaging. As far as metal utensils go, if you’re looking to salvage them, make sure you wash them thoroughly. To make sure they have been decontaminated, use one teaspoon of chlorine bleach on 32 fluid ounces of water. Everything else, including wooden cutting boards and plastic utensils, should be thrown away.

  • Carpets and Furniture

All furniture, carpets, and bedding should be removed from the house and either cleaned or discarded. 

As far as carpets and rugs go, it’s usually not worth cleaning them. It doesn’t matter how expensive or rare your carpet is, don’t hesitate to throw it away since it’s most likely contaminated beyond repair. 

In case you decide to salvage some of your carpets, spread them out and wash them with a hose. Once you hose off the contaminated water, soak and rinse the rug with a chlorine solution (1 gallon of water mixed with 2 tablespoons of liquid household chlorine bleach). Repeat this step at least two times and let the carpet dry off. If you notice a particular smell or contamination after this process, either get it professionally cleaned or discard it completely. 

If you had any upholstered furniture and mattresses, they should be discarded, no questions asked. Even if you know of a professional cleaning company that may help you with this particular predicament, we strongly recommend you to avoid saving contaminated mattresses and upholstered furniture; it’s simply not worth taking the risk. 

  • Walls 

Contaminated walls are one of the toughest things you will deal with after a flood. The first thing you should think about is how to clean the studs after a flood, especially if you have no experience with these kinds of situations. 

The principle is pretty simple – get rid of everything that can be discarded, including drywall, panels, and insulation. As far as non-removable walls go, you should leave everything open in order to create a draft and let the walls dry for some time. Bear in mind that this process can sometimes last for over a month. You can use fans and dehumidifiers in order to speed up the process a bit, but it will still take at least a couple of weeks. 

  • Preventing Mold 

No matter how severe the flood was, you will have to think about mold prevention in the upcoming weeks and months. Mold and mildew are an accompanying consequence of floods and are hard to deal with, especially if you don’t know how. 

The first course of action is to lower or completely remove humidity from the equation. That means you should constantly use air conditioning or heating (during winter) in combination with a dehumidifier. If you don’t have an air conditioner, make sure to leave the windows open and use fans to help circulate air. This is a much longer process in comparison to using air conditioning, but you have to work with what you’ve got.

The Dos and Don’ts of Water Damage Restoration 

Now that we’ve covered some of the crucial steps of flood damage cleaning, it’s time to see what you should do and what should you avoid during or after a flood. 

Here’s a short and comprehensive list of the dos and don’ts: 

  • The Dos

  • Turn off the electric supply
  • Turn off the water supply
  • Check for gas leaks
  • Be wary of animals (mainly snakes and rats)
  • Make sure you’re away from heavy furniture as its integrity may have been compromised
  • Be careful when walking on floors and debris
  • Remove debris
  • Ventilate the property and wear protective clothing as well as a respirator
  • Take photos and videos of the damage for insurance claims
  • Wash your hands thoroughly with antibacterial soap after getting in contact with contaminated water
  • Throw away any foods, drinks, and medications that may have been contaminated
  • If you’re looking to restore damaged furniture, hire a team of professionals rather than doing it yourself
  • The Don’ts 

  • Don’t enter the premises until it is deemed completely safe. In some cases, the electrical grid can stay on, and since water is a conductor, it’s potentially lethal
  • Do not take flood restoration upon yourself. Either do it with friends or even better, hire a company that specializes in flood restorations
  • Do not attempt to use any electrical appliances in a flooded house
  • Use standalone power generators if electricity is needed, do not use the building’s power system
  • Don’t allow garbage to build up, and don’t leave the water to stand for long. Flush as much water out of the house as you can because that will significantly lower the amount of mold and mildew once everything dries off 
  • Do not attempt to do structural work by yourself. If you’re not a professional who works in construction, it’s probably a good idea to hire a team of professionals rather than venturing into DIY waters

Flood Restoration is Hard Work, but it’s Inevitable

As you can tell, flood restoration is a massive challenge regardless of the severity. It doesn’t matter whether the affected area is a single room or a whole house, you can rest assured that it will be a massive inconvenience to solve, and on top of that, it’s not going to be cheap. 

As far as our recommendations go, we strongly recommend that you hire a team of professionals and let them handle the work. Even if you have some previous experience with flood aftermaths, it’s best that you just leave it to the pros. In case you don’t want to, please refer to some of our tips and tricks from the flood remediation checklist. They won’t solve your issues completely, but will definitely come in handy if it’s your first time facing a massive flood. 

If you would like to know more about the dangers of contaminated homes, meth labs, and other closely-related subjects, read our other articles!

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