Our House Flooded! Now What?
In the wake of the heavy rains plaguing much of Texas, flooding continues to threaten the region. More rain is expected later this week, which will only compound the problem. The following best practices when dealing with water damage may be of some help to homeowners experiencing flooding issues.
Turn off the power
Before stepping into any flooded area of a home, take a trip to the fuse box to turn off the main power as well as the individual breakers. Even if the power is currently out, power restoration is highly unpredictable.
Dangers in the water
Depending on the type of flooding a home is enduring (i.e. weather related flooding, interior plumbing issues) it is important to be cognizant of the dangers of flooding. Floodwaters could contain contaminants like sewage or hazardous chemicals, even if it visually appears safe. Wearing waders or waterproof boots and rubber gloves to remove debris will help protect from hidden dangers.
Before removing any water or damage from the event, take pictures to catalog the damage for insurance purposes. By failing to complete this step before beginning restoration, claim payout amounts may be considerably less.
Call your Insurance Company
File a claim as soon as possible. Communicate with the insurance agent the state of the home and follow their instructions. Document any and all communications with the agent. If there are plans to begin work immediately, let the agent know and to what extent. Depending on the severity of damage, the insurance agent may advise to wait until an adjuster can come out to inspect the property before repairs are made.
The Clean Up
Removing the water
If the agent has given the “go-ahead” to begin cleanup, start by cranking up the fans to circulate air to encourage quicker drying. Mop up the floors and remove any excess water. Most hardware stores also rent out sump pumps or wet vacs to remove water. Any wet belongings or furniture should be moved to a designated “dry area” outside your home before deciding whether or not they are salvageable. Mold should be a top consideration here. Do not throw away any damaged belongings, especially expensive ones, as adjusters may need to inspect them to process the claim correctly.
Dealing with Carpeting
If the carpet has been flooded, the best rule of thumb is to remove it. The padding underneath the carpet takes a long time to dry out, while mold only takes a day or two to begin to flourish. Even if the carpet has been dried and the mold risk has been avoided, the carpet may still adopt a strange odor and may still need to be removed.
Dealing with Drywall
If the flooding has impacted the drywall, it will need to be remediated to guard against mold. The waterline will be easily visible once the water has been removed. This area and at least 12 inches above the damaged area will need to be removed.
Dealing with Hardwoods Flooring
Hardwood floors that experienced flooded conditions may be difficult to salvage. Cupping, warping, and swelling are all symptoms of water damaged flooring. Again, the main concern is mold and mildew, which can grow very quickly if the area is not dried out and dehumidified properly.
Once the water has been removed and the area is dry, then the repairs can begin. Ensuring that interior walls and flooring are completely dry is critical to avoid the growth and spread of mold. It may be necessary to contact mold remediation companies or professional flood restoration companies depending on the extent of the damage. Again, consult with the insurance company to determine the level of coverage and damages that could be due as a result of the flood. Additionally, check to see if the area was designated as a disaster area as it may mean additional resources are available.