If you live in an area with rainy springs, you have probably experienced a flooded basement at some point. In fact, 98% of basements will experience some type of water damage during their lifespans. It can be a pain to deal with water damage in your home–whether it’s caused by nature or an issue with indoor plumbing. Here are some tips on dealing with a flooded home this spring.
Consider your safety first
Flooding is an extremely overwhelming thing to deal with, especially when it’s severe. But it’s important to be as safe as possible. Ensure the power is off in your home, even if there is a widespread power outage. Turn off individual fuse switches in your fuse box along with the main breaker. Standing water and electricity combining can have dangerous consequences.
In a serious flooding situation, a qualified electrician will need to inspect, clean, and dry the power box before the power in your home can be restored.
After you’ve turned off the power in your home, you should wear protective clothing such as rubber gloves and boots. Not only are you wading through water, you’re also walking in whatever the water has come in contact with including chemicals, sewage, garbage and debris. Flood water can be highly contaminated and toxic. Sometimes any harmful contaminants and hazards won’t be visible, which is why protective gear is essential.
Avoid touching your mouth or nose with your glove, hands, or anything that has come in contact with water. The water can be polluted with bacteria, mold, or other harmful chemicals.
Try to stop the water source
It’s important to prevent more water from getting into your home, if possible. If a storm or natural disaster has caused the flooding, you should contact your city to make sure storm drains are open and cleaned out to ensure water recedes faster.
If flooding has been caused by a burst pipe or broken appliance, immediately turn off the water supply to your home.
Many appliances can now be equipped with automatic shutoff valves to prevent leakage and further water damage.
Check the structural integrity of your property
If you’re dealing with an extremely severe flooding situation, you need to ensure your house is safe to enter. Look for buckled walls and floors as well as warped or cracked foundations as signs of structural damage and do not enter if there is a risk of collapse.
Contact your utility companies immediately if you feel that any damage has occurred to water, gas, electric, or sewer lines.
Contact your insurer (or landlord if you’re a renter)
This should be done as soon as possible to speed up the restoration process and return to normal quickly. Your insurance company will send an adjuster to look at damage and determine if you are covered for any losses. Be sure to listen carefully and follow any instructions they give you about clean-up and restoration. Try to avoid starting any repairs or demolition until they have sent an adjuster and given you permission to move forward.
Document any and all damage to ensure you can get all the help from insurers that you deserve. Photos and videos are a great way to show what has happened to your home.
Receive help from honest and reliable contractors
When a house flood is caused by a broken appliance or burst pipe, a plumber is the probably first person you will consider calling so they can use their knowledge to resolve the issue. Some plumbers will also recommend or refer to specific restoration companies to help you remove the water.
Unfortunately, there can be unethical business agreements between the two, where the restoration company will pay the plumber for your referral, and this payment will be reflected in your bill. You should avoid signing any contracts or allow a restoration company to start any project until your insurance company has sent the adjust to look at damage. You should also avoid contracts that remove you as the claimant and give the restoration company ownership of your payout from your insurance company.
Reach out to reliable companies that are built on excellent customer service, fair pricing, and honest estimates. Companies like these will help you without inserting themselves for their benefit.
Cleaning out your home
Restoring your home back to its original state requires a few steps: first, removing water; second, drying your home; third, dealing with mold. Let’s break down these steps one-by-one.
It’s important to remember you want to make sure you have approval from your insurer to start this process. Once you do, you’ll use a sump pump (which can be found at most hardware or home supply stores for $150-500) and a wet vac ($40-130). Remember that water is heavy and can weigh as much as 10 pounds per cubic foot, so be careful not to injure yourself. If it’s safe for you to do so without letting in more water, open doors and windows to circulate fresh air.
Drying your home
So now you’ve removed (or attempted to remove) all the standing water in your home, but everything will still be wet; especially if your area is humid due to heavy rain. Dehumidifiers can be a good solution for airing out enclosed spaces such as basements or crawl spaces. This is your easiest solution, but remember you will most likely need multiple drying methods, such as air conditioners or portable fans (granted you have power and it is safe to do so).
Mold is a huge problem to deal with after your home has been damaged by water. The best way to prevent the spread of mold is to entirely clean and disinfect your home to prevent the mold from spreading. Use a strong cleaner, such as a bleach solution, and warm water on any problem areas. Please remember to never mix ammonia and bleach, as this can result in dangerous fumes. You can also check out this source on dealing with mold and mildew after a house flood from FEMA.
Once you have ensured your home is clean and dry, it’s up to you to decide what to restore vs. what to discard. While this can be a stressful and upsetting process, remember that you are not alone. Your insurance company will help you as best as they can so that you can move forward and continue living your life as you had before. If you have any extra tips on dealing with flooding, we’d love to hear from you.