How to Restore Your Home After Flood and Water Damage
The natural thing after your home has suffered flood or water damage is to wonder if the damage can be fixed. Typically, you will be worrying about the extent of the damage to your home and the items in it. Like most people in this situation, you want to minimize the cost of repairs and maybe avoid buying new stuff.
It is almost impossible to not do repairs after flood or water damage, but how much repairs you do depends on your actions right after the event. When trying to restore a home after flood or water damage, as NC Property Group explains, time and expertise are vital. How soon restoration begins and how well it is done determine how much of your personal belongings you will save.
How should you proceed after your home has suffered flood or water damage?
Step one: Stay safe
Above and beyond all else, protect yourself and your family. Before you do anything to resolve the problem, take the following precautionary steps:
- Do not enter the home if there is evidence of structural damage, such as unstable floors, walls, roof, or ceiling.
- Ensure the electricity and gas supply to the home are shut off before you enter it. Use flashlights or other battery-powered lights to see your way around.
- If you need to enter the home to turn off the power or gas, it is best to let an expert do it.
- When entering the home, wear protective clothing; rubber gloves and boots, plus eye protection.
- If you are able to enter the home, secure your valuables first, including important documents.
- Do not forget to call your relatives to let them know you are okay
Step two: Call the insurance company
Your insurer will send in an adjuster to assess the extent of damage and probably determine the origin of the flood. You should not rely solely on the adjuster; take photos of the scene and damaged objects, noting their value.
Step three: Hire a flood cleanup and restoration company
The company should be able to deploy to your home immediately. They should have well-trained water cleanup/damage restoration technicians and the right water removal and structural drying equipment. Water removal and property restoration should begin 24-48 hours after the flood.
Step four: Remove any standing water
The longer the water stays in your home, the more time it has to work its way into the structures of the building and the items in your home. The standard way to remove flood water is to pump it out with a submersible pump.
Step five: Dry out the home
Even after standing water has been pumped out of your home, water absorbed by the materials in the building is still there. Depending on the severity of the flood, drying can be done using air movers, fans, desiccant humidifiers, or refrigerant dehumidifiers.
Step five: Begin restoration
This is an extensive and multifaceted process. The appropriate steps to take will depend on the specific structure of the home or item that is being dealt with. The usual steps are:
- Flooring: Laminate/hardwood flooring and subfloors will absorb water, swell, and warp. They should be removed. As a rule, wood or OSB (oriented strand board) subfloors should be removed. Tiles floors will not absorb water, but the wood substrate beneath them will and it won’t dry out completely if the tile flooring is not removed.
- Walls: Wood studs and drywall will absorb water and grow mold if not properly dried out. The walls should be opened; at least, one foot of drywall should be removed to allow for proper drying. Undamaged wall paneling may be reused after they are removed and cleaned.
- Insulation: Batt insulation, the most common type, will also absorb water and it will not release the water completely unless the insulation is removed. For uninsulated walls, holes should be cut in the wallboard to drain and dry them.
- Wall cavity: The wall cavity should be left open to dry after the drywall and insulation are removed. Reconstruction cannot begin until the percentage of moisture in the air is back to normal.
- Carpets and furnishing: Flood water is not clean water, so carpets are best removed and discarded. Upholstered furniture should be discarded or may need to have its stuffing and upholstering replaced. If the flooding is caused by clean water from inside the home, carpets, and furnishing should be dried thoroughly – preferably outside.
- Appliances: All appliances which were exposed to water must be evaluated by a professional to determine if they are safe to use. To avoid electrocution, do not switch on appliances until this check has been done.
- Mold prevention: To prevent mold, keep the AC/heater on at all times and use a dehumidifier until the humidity is back to normal. Alternatively, improve ventilation with fans and by opening the windows. In addition to drying and cleaning some surfaces – such as wall studs and plates – may be disinfected by spraying them with a mixture of one cup of bleach to a gallon of water.
Finally, note that flood damage restoration is not something you should attempt on your own. For the best results, you should let an expert handle it.