How to Clean up After a Flood
Residential floods can have many causes, such as burst main lines, plumbing backups or the forces of Mother Nature. No matter the cause, the effects can be devastating, especially if there’s excessive water damage. Beloved personal items can be ruined and your home’s flooring and walls may need expensive repairs. Not to mention, areas with excessive humidity and moisture are at greater risk for mold growth.
Problems Associated With Mold
The high potential for mold may be the number one reason to act quickly after flooding – big or small. The presence of mold can have harmful effects on the human body – the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says that the average person could experience wheezing, red or itchy eyes or a stuffy nose in a moldy environment, while people with allergies or asthma are likely to have more severe reactions. What’s more, those with weakened immune systems may develop mold-related infections.
Materials and items prone to mold growth include:
- Wood and Paper Items
The CDC recommends disinfecting or removing these items from your home within 24 to 48 hours after flooding for maximum mold prevention.
Post-Flood Cleaning Tips
The cleanup process may seem daunting at first, but you can work through it step by step to ensure your family’s safety and your home’s full recovery.
Disconnect Your Power and Water
Before you begin rummaging through soaked personal items in standing water, be sure your home’s electricity has been shut off. This can be done using your circuit breaker or main switch. If the flooding was caused by a plumbing issue, you should shut off your water as well. If you’re unsure how to do either of these tasks, don’t hesitate to contact your utility provider for assistance.
Assess Structural Damage
Before you enter the room, it’s important to assess whether there are any structural concerns that could pose a safety threat. Determine whether the foundation is still sturdy by looking for loosened, warped or cracked foundation elements before you re-enter the home.
Unfortunately, homeowner’s insurance alone rarely covers flood damage. In many instances, actual flood coverage must be purchased. However, flooding caused by a line break or backup is often categorized as “water damage” and may be covered. In any case, be sure to take plenty of photos of the damage prior to moving or replacing anything. This will help you receive the most from your coverage.
If your utilities are shut off and you’ve assessed the damage and taken pictures, you can begin removing the wet items from your home and salvaging what you can. Keep in mind, flood waters are usually riddled with bacteria from sewage or other contaminants. Protect yourself during the cleanup process by wearing rubber gloves, waterproof boots or waders.
Remove Excess Water
Removing excess water may be as easy as using some towels, mops or buckets, depending on how extensive the flooding is. Just be sure your plumbing can handle gallons of water being disposed of at once. If the plumbing was damaged or caused the flooding in the first place, you may have to find another solution.
If you’re dealing with more than an inch of standing water, you may want to acquire a wet/dry vacuum or sump pump. Both items can be rented from a hardware store – just be sure it’s safe to use the electricity before plugging them in.
Dry and Disinfect
After excess water is removed, begin drying items where possible and decide whether they can be salvaged or need to be disposed of properly. Dehumidifiers and fans are useful when drying carpets and upholstery. Try to ventilate the area as much as possible by opening windows, curtains and doors.
After the area is dry, hard surfaces and non-upholstered furniture, like tables, tile flooring and metal appliances, should be disinfected using a bleach solution or non-ammonia detergent to prevent mold and bacteria growth.
Disposing of Debris and Ruined Items
One of the final steps in the flood cleanup process is disposing of ruined electronics, carpeting, furniture, and drywall. Getting rid of these items is often easier said than done – you may not even have the means to remove everything yourself. gotTRASH? provides same-day residential cleanout services throughout the Buffalo area. Our highly-trained, licensed and insured trash technicians can remove all kinds of trash or debris cluttering your home – flood or no flood. Call or text (716) 800-2000 or reach out to us online to receive a FREE quote.