The following 13 steps will help you know what do do when your house floods. When our house flooded, we were delighted with our home insurance company. They took care of everything, from the water damage restoration company and the emergency plumber to the our discount hotel. We were out of our house for more than 5 months, but we were made as comfortable as possible while our home was remodeled. We even received a new HVAC system with whole house air purifier since mold had spread.
Our insurance company found the best roofing company near me, a house painter, and a paving company to fix our buckling driveway. They even found a mobile chiropractor who came to our apartment to help relieve the tension from the stress of being displaced from our home.
We live in the country, but while we were out of our home we lived in an apartment right in the middle of town. Now I see why city people are rarely home! We had so many fun thing to do right in our backyard! From martial arts to joining a fencing gym we upped our fitness game big time!
What Causes Flooding?
There are many things that can cause a flood. Some of them include the leakage of water pipes, bursting sewage pipes, excessive and torrential rainfall, dam failure, when a river overflows its bank and so on. A flood occurs in various severities. While some floods are mild and are won’t wreak a lot of havoc, others can be serious and lead to the loss of of lives and properties. This is why it’s important to know the things to do when you notice you might have a flood situation.
Floods may occur suddenly, especially when caused by mechanical damages such as dam failure, leakage of pipes and so on. Although floods damage lives and properties, the effects could also continue long after the flood has ended. This is in terms of the growth of bacteria, molds, mildews, which are dangerous to human health. Also, water penetrates walls of buildings, crevices in the house, furniture, which usually require the services of a home restoration water damage expert to fix. These and more are some of the effects of floods.
What Is a House Flood?
A lot of people get home to realize that their house is flooded. Statistics have shown that this happens to about 37% of homeowners in the United States. This represents the number of homeowners that have had some type of water damage in their house. Also, it has been shown that about 14,000 people experience a water disaster every day. This shows how regular water disaster occurs. Water disasters could be caused by a burst pipe, sewer backup, a faulty appliance, torrential rainfall, rising floodwaters and so on. It’s therefore important to know how to protect yourself, family and your property is this happens to you. Asides from protecting yourself, you should also know how to restore your building and properties to the way they were before the flood happened. This is the purpose of this piece.
What Are The Things To Do In A House Flood Situation?
Below are the most important things you should do when flood affects your house:
- Take your time to breathe and grieve: It could be quite overwhelming and stressful when your house gets flooded. Thinking about the stress involved in cleaning, drying, possibilities of the growth of molds, the damage of properties and so on could be very unsettling. However, you shouldn’t allow this to weigh you down, or affect your mental health. The most important thing to do in this situation is to take the first step because, without it, things can only get worse, and you’ve to take action as soon as you can. Overall, take your time to breathe, while thinking of the next move to make, so you can restore your valuables and house back to normalcy.
- Safety first: Whatever you do, your priority must always be a safety at all times. One of the first things to do is to ensure that the electrical power in your house is switched off. You should still do this, even if there is a widespread power outage in your area. The way to do this is by looking for your fuse box and turning off the main breaker, as well as the individual fuse switches. Electricity and water do not mix well, as it can lead to electrocution, and kill people on a large scale, should electrical power be restored. In situations where there is serious flooding, you should hire an electrician to come to inspect, clean and dry the power box, before the electrical power can be switched on again.
- Dress appropriately: After turning off the electrical supply to the house, you should ensure you dress to protect yourself. You should wear protective clothing like rubber boots and gloves. The purpose of doing this is to protect yourself from whatever is in the flood water, which may contain toxic chemicals, debris, dangerous animals, dirt, sewage and so on. Flood water can be contaminated and very toxic, especially when the flood water is coming from outside the house, which is why protecting yourself is paramount. Also, you should touch your mouth with your gloves or hand, or anything that has had contact with the flood water. You should avoid walking in the flood water if you don’t have a rubber boot.
- Stop the water source: This is one of the first steps you should take, in a house flood, considering the source of the flood is in the house. House floods may be due to a burst pipe, broken appliance and so on. You should promptly turn off the water supply to your house. However, if the flood is caused by natural disasters such as tornados, storms or other natural disasters, you should inform your city managers, to ensure that the storm drains are open and cleaned out, so the flood water can move swiftly. The less flood water you have, the less damage done to lives and properties. There are new appliances that can be equipped with automatic shutoff valves, to prevent the leakage and stop water damage.
- Ensure the property is structurally safe: In flood situations, you must ensure that the house is structurally safe before you enter. Some of the ways of identifying a house that has structural damages include checking for buckled walls, floors. You shouldn’t enter the house if you notice that they are damaged, and stands a chance of collapsing. You should also check out for cracked foundations. You should contact your utility company if you notice that there may be damage to your gas, water, electric or sewer lines. Overall, your safety is paramount, more important than whatever valuables you may have inside your home.
- Call your insurance company: The cost of restoration, reconstruction, or repair of buildings after water damage can be unbearable. However, this becomes easy when you have good Having a homeowner’s insurance that covers flooding due to burst pipes, broken appliances, back up sewers, storm drains and so on is essential. It’s important to call your insurance company promptly to quicken the restoration process and return to normalcy. The insurance company would send their agents to come to assess the damage and to determine if you’re covered for any losses. However, it’s important you follow the instructions from your insurance company about the cleanup and restoration process. You shouldn’t start any repair works until their agent has assessed the situation, or before you’ve been given the authorization to do so. You should take pictures and videos of the damages, and present to your insurer, as you move through the process. Ensure there is a clear communication line between the insurance company and you.
- Hire honest and reliable contractors: One of the most important decisions you would make is hiring a water damage restoration contractor. There are a lot of contractors out there, but it’s important to choose one that is reliable, trustworthy and has the skills and experience to help you restore and reconstruct your home. The first person, most people, call after a home flood is a plumber, especially when it’s caused by a broken appliance or a burst pipe. The plumber will apply his expertise in fixing whatever might be the problem with the pipes, or whatever caused the home flood. Some plumbers would also recommend restoration companies to help in the removal of water, and also restore your property. However, some of them do have some unethical business agreements, so they get a kickback for a referral, and the recoup the kickback in your restoration bill. You should make sure you don’t sign any contract or allow any work done on your building before your insurance company agents have assessed the extent of the damage, and has assessed your claim. Also, you should not sign any contract that doesn’t have you as the claimant and gives the restoration company ownership of the payout from the insurance company. This is why it’s important to hire a reliable contractor, that won’t receive or give out kickbacks for referrals.
- Document everything: You should bear in mind to document everything in the house that is damaged, even before removing the water or rearranging the house for cleanup. You should take pictures, and make videos of the entire house, showing the extent of the damage. These would be important in filing your claim with your insurance company. Also, you should take pictures and videos, even as the restoration of the house is being done. The more materials and evidence you can provide, the better. This should include the pictures and videos of the household items and furnishings that have been damaged by water.
- Remove the flood water: You should commence the removal of the water from your house after you’ve finished recording the videos, taken pictures, documented and has taken authorization from your insurance company to start the cleanup. There are various ways of removing water from your building. People make use of hoses, buckets, bail or siphon to remove the water. However, you should be careful not to hurt yourself; water is heavy. You should be careful when lifting materials that have been soaked in water. They tend to weigh a lot more. You should wear rubber boots and gloves, and avoid any contact between your gloves and your mouth. If the water is too voluminous, you should give the job to a water damage restoration company, as they have the right and advanced equipment to get the job done. Asides from this, they also have driers and humidifiers to reduce the humidity of the house. The faster the water is removed; the less damage is done to your building and properties. As earlier mentioned, the length of time the water is allowed to remain is one of the most important factors in overall damage and cost of restoration.
- Locate and remove the “hiding water”: Water tend to hide in places that are not easy to detect. They also penetrate structural cavities in buildings. Water also can move through materials easily. Examples of these materials include floors, ceilings, walls and so on. It’s almost impossible to detect water in structural cavities. Restoration experts do have some special equipment such as sensitive moisture meters, that they use in detecting Moisture in structural cavities can easily lead to the growth of molds, bacteria, and mildew even within just 12 hours. This is why it’s important to hire a restoration company to help in the removal of water from your house after water damage.
- You should minimize your loss: It’s important to keep away your valuables during a flood. Some of the ways of doing this include keeping them in a plastic container, then airing and drying them out, when you find a dry surface. As earlier mentioned, molds can start growing within 12 to 24 hours after a flood. This is why it’s important to not expose your property to water for long. You should also do away with any foods, canned or perishable that have gained contact with flood water. Food contamination is serious and can be life-threatening. You should thoroughly wash any cutlery, plates or cups before using them.
- Mold: Prevention of the growth of mold and bacteria: One of the biggest health risks in flood damage is mold and bacterial growth. These organisms tend to thrive in wet conditions. Studies have shown that molds start to grow when water is left inside the walls, or under floors for as little as 24 hours. Mold can do a lot of damage to human health, especially to people that are sensitive to it. Some of the conditions that have been linked with mold growth include chronic fatigue syndrome, asthma, depression, sinus infection and so on.
- Dry your property: After you’ve removed the visible water, and has identified and also removed the hidden moisture in pockets. The next thing to do is to dry things out. One of the reasons for drying things out is to prevent the growth of bacteria and mold. They only thrive in humid and moist environments, so drying out everywhere makes it impossible for them to grow. However, you should know that it takes a while before everywhere would be dried out. You should open your window, turn up your air conditioner, and also make use of your fan. Large industrial fans and dehumidifiers are more useful in this situation. You should keep in mind that any material that has to remain saturated for more 1 to 2 days would have to be removed. This is to eliminate the risk of mold The flooring should be removed, to expose the subfloor so that the drying process would be fast. Carpet padding should be removed, and replaced with a new one.
If you are struggling the the aftermath of a home flood, let me encourage you that all will be well eventually. In the meantime, keep you chin up and dwell on all that is positive in your life. Get your antioxidants and plenty of sunshine and fresh air to help manage the stress you are feeling. It may seem like forever, but this too shall pass.