A flooded home is not only a nuisance but could also potentially be a hazard to your health and safety. Learning the safest way to handle your flood and determining whether it is something you can clean up yourself or if a professional should be called could prevent you from incurring serious damage to your home or issues for your health.
Dos and Don’ts of Water Damage Cleanup
Before you begin the cleanup, you want to make sure that the building is safe enough for you or your family to be in.
- Turn off your power and water (unless you have to stand in water to do so).
- Determine if you can smell any leaking gas.
- Look for damaged gas and power lines, exterior damage, and foundation cracks.
Conversely, pay attention to the following:
- DON’T enter the building if you notice any major structural damage.
- DON’T turn on electrical appliances or ceiling fans if they are anywhere near the water.
- DON’T walk on any floors that feel like they are sagging beneath your feet.
After checking for safety hazards, it’s time to do a walk-thru and determine what needs the most attention first.
- Open all the windows and doors to help the building dry out and to improve ventilation.
- Remove any debris laying around.
- Try to remove any water that is trapped in walls
- Flush any toilets to check for clogs from debris or mud
- Use materials, a shop vac, a dehumidifier, or a wet vac to begin the drying process.
Next, focus on these aspects:
- DON’T leave any standing water puddles lying around.
- DON’T try to use a standard household vacuum to remove water
- DON’T leave piles of debris and garbage lying around.
- DON’T try to do any electrical or structural work yourself.
- DON’T drain a large amount of water out of your basement too quickly as this could cause damage to the foundation.
- Cleanup Time
- If it can be done safely, you may want to do most or at least part of the cleanup yourself.
- Put on any protective gear you have, including rubber gloves, boots, and possibly a face mask.
- Wash your hands regularly with water and soap throughout the cleanup process
- Take plenty of photographs or videos of the damage before you start the cleanup process.
- Keep a portion of any damaged walls or floorings to show our insurance company.
- Raise up any furniture or appliances that can’t be moved onto wooden blocks.
- Try to preserve any documents, photographs, books, or other paper products in plastic bags.
- Throw out any exposed medicines, beverages, or food.
- Throw out any wall coverings that may harbor mold.
- Throw out any soft materials such as pillows, bedding, padded furniture, and foam rubber.
- Clean and disinfect any dishes with hot water and dish soap, but throw out anything made from soft plastics.
- Scrub all hard surfaces with hot, soapy water.
- Remove any drywall, ceilings, and softwood flooring if it has come in contact with the floodwater.
When to Call in the Professionals
With a lot of hard work, it is possible to clean up after a small flood by yourself. However, after you consider how much it costs in supplies, rental equipment fees, and time, you may find you actually save money by hiring a professional service.
An added side note is that some flood insurance reimbursement policies require a professional contractor to be utilized. Check your policy carefully and consider whether or not it is more feasible to hire help for your flood.