When you’re faced with a flood, you may find it difficult to know where to begin cleaning. There are many things to do, from removing tree branches and mud from the house to replacing lost or damaged items. If you follow these tips, however, you should be able to solve any minor problems that come your way.
In the aftermath of a flood, you may be rushing to check on your house and lot for structural damages, lost belongings, and mold growth.
Nevertheless, your safety must come first. This must be stressed above all cleaning up after a flood tips.
You are susceptible to potential hazards from the destruction caused by the flood. One, it is dangerous to be walking around a structure with hanging debris. Two, the water inside most likely contains contaminants or sewage.
So, to make sure the structure is habitable before entering to clean it. You must have a safety checklist.
First on the list is shutting off gas and electronics. Wear rubber boots in the process.
Second, examining the building’s structure. Check for cracks or anything loose. You may need an electrician to check the house’s electrical system.
Third, wear protective gear. Examples include waterproof gloves, work boots or rubber boots, safety mask or goggles.
Lastly, always have first aid present in case of minor injuries that occur during the cleanup. Make sure you drink quality water as the cleanup promises to be a tedious task.
Once the structure is deemed safe and habitable, you can now proceed to insurance protocols.
Before filing an insurance claim, take photos or video. For insurance claims and tax deductions, you must take photos or videos before you start cleaning.
Next, you should keep records of all expenses.
Finally, you can always inquire with your insurance company for other requirements needed to file a claim. Wet or flooded documents or papers can be frozen then taken out when the documents can be used again. Place waxed paper between layers and place items inside plastic bags before freezing.
This was the first set of cleaning up after a flood tips. If safety and insurance is now out of the way, it is time to proceed to the actual cleanup.
- Get rid of all the unwanted water inside.
Perhaps most obvious cleaning up after a flood tip, the first thing to do during the cleanup is drying out your home. This is because in 24 hours, mold starts growing in damp places and in two days, if the structure is humid and how, the mold will become more visible and harder to clean.
Therefore, if there is power present in your house and lot, whether through your home’s electrical system or generator, you must turn on everything that can help dry the place.
Turn on your air conditioners, dehumidifiers, and every fan you have. Keep your windows closed if you have a dehumidifier and an air conditioner for proper interior air circulation and to get rid of excess moisture.
If you have no air-conditioning nor dehumidifiers, fans will suffice. Just face the exhaust toward an open window.
If you have no power at all, then the best you can do is to crack all the windows open and get help from the outside breeze.
- Monitor the moisture.
While you are doing step number one, use a humidity meter to keep under observation the moisture level. The ideal humidity to prevent mold growth is between 30 to 50 percent.
It is necessary to have a humidity meter at your disposal because aside from measuring the humidity, it can check how dry the walls, floors, and furniture are.
After the cleanup, the walls, floors, and furniture can be dry to the touch but when doublechecked with a humidity meter, it could be determined that the walls, floors, and furniture are still damp, hence at the mercy of hold growth and bacteria buildup.
In all, having a humidity meter will assist you detecting intangible moisture.
- Clean the debris.
Get your shovels ready for this cleaning up after a flood tip because there will be a lot of digging in this step.
Experts suggest using shovels to remove debris from your home and transferring them in a safe distance away from your home.
For household items like furniture or carpeting, clean them and disinfect them before leaving them to dry for two days.
However, if they have been damaged and cannot be cleaned and disinfected within one to two days, experts suggest getting rid of them completely. The most likely occurrence is that the furniture and carpeting have begun the process of growing molds.
What you can do is take a picture and use it as documentation for an insurance claim, especially if it is a high value item in your opinion. If not, you can ask your barangay for help disposing these items.
- Discard any damaged drywalls.
Damaged drywalls are unaesthetic and hazardous; they must be discarded and replaced immediately. There are levels to the damage dealt by the flood water.
A drywall that endured 10 square feet of flood damage must be handled by an experienced contractor. Fortunately, any area smaller than that can be dealt with yourself.
To proceed, you must cut the drywall 15 to 24 inches above the visible water line using a utility knife before punching it in and removing it.
After this, observe the insulation behind the drywall because it is likely to have moisture. For this, just follow the same procedure done in mold prevention for walls, floors, and furniture. For nonporous materials like metal and glass, they can be cleaned thoroughly using water and detergent and sanitized with a bleach and water solution.
Make sure everything is dry before putting up a new wall or else the imminence of mold growth.
- Remove the flooring.
Regardless of the flooring present in your home, there is a high possibility that due to the aftermath of the flooding, moisture is present underneath them and bacteria and mold can thrive.
As with the previous cleaning up after a flood tips, make sure everything is clean and dry while maintaining a humidity of 30 to 50 percent before installing a new floor. For the subflooring, the moisture level should be below 16 percent.
Be patient as this can take weeks to configure. If you are unsure when you can reinstall flooring, you can consult with a home inspector who has experience with flooding.
- Inspect appliances.
Particularly after being ravaged by flooding, strict prohibition of plugging in your appliances cannot be stressed enough since they are likely to be damaged or completely broken.
If appliances like a washing machine or a stove was submerged in the flood, get rid of them. If you think your appliances can be salvaged, have them inspected first to be sure, then have them repaired.
While mold growth is unlikely on appliances since they are made of metal, it does help to make sure. Regardless, water and bleach are all you need for appliance cleanups.
When dealing with flooding, mold prevention is focal point of rectifying the problem. The key is to ensure dryness in everything you do during the cleanup.
Of course, the most important cleaning up after a flood tip is to uphold the safety of you and your family.
Written by Cholo Hermoso