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Water Damage: What To Do After a Flood

Posted January 21, 2023 by Mike Lewis under Tips

Water Damage: What To Do After a Flood

Assess the Damage

The first thing I do after a flood is to carefully assess the damage. I walk through each room and make notes about what is wet, how much standing water there is, and what may need immediate attention. Pay close attention to the walls, floors, ceilings, and furniture for water damage. I also check the electrical outlets and appliances to make sure there are no hazards. Being thorough at this stage helps me understand the extent of the work needed for cleanup and repairs. I take photos or videos to document the damage as well.

Contact My Insurance Company

Contacting my insurance company is one of the most important steps. I call them as soon as possible to file a claim. My agent can walk me through the claims process and let me know what is covered under my policy. Flood damage may be covered under my homeowners insurance, separate flood insurance policy, or disaster assistance if my area has been declared a disaster zone. I discuss the damage with my agent and find out what they require for my claim such as photos, inventories of damaged items, etc. They can also provide advice on working with restoration companies.

Remove Excess Water

With safety in mind, I start removing as much excess water as possible. I wear rubber boots, gloves, and a mask during cleanup. For standing water on floors or carpets, I use a wet/dry shop vacuum to suck it up. Opening doors and windows helps facilitate drying as well. Using dehumidifiers and fans to circulate air can also speed up drying. My goal is to remove as much moisture as possible to prevent further water damage and mold growth. I discard any porous items like carpeting, mattresses, or upholstered furniture that are soaked.

Clean and Disinfect

Once excess water has been removed, I thoroughly clean and disinfect all surfaces. Any mud, debris, or contaminants need to be hand shovelled and mopped up first. I wear protective gear to avoid health hazards from flood waters. Then I scrub surfaces with hot water and detergent, and rinse several times. Disinfecting is vital – I use a solution of 1 cup bleach per 1 gallon of water. Thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting helps prevent mold growth. Soft, porous materials may need to be discarded if they cannot be properly cleaned and dried.

Begin Drying Out

Preventing further water damage involves drying things out as quickly as possible. I remove moisture from wood, concrete, and other materials using dehumidifiers and fans. Open doors and windows are essential too. The indoor humidity should ideally be kept under 40%. I have heating/drying equipment brought in if needed. My goal is to thoroughly dry my home and belongings within 48 hours if possible to avoid further water damage and prevent mold growth. Monitoring moisture levels and progress during the drying process is important. Warped floors, peeling paint and wallpaper are signs that more drying is needed.

Repair and Restore

Once drying is complete, I can begin repairing and restoring my home. If the water damage was significant, a contractor may be needed to replace flooring, drywall, insulation, cabinets, and other damaged structures. I work with my insurance company on the claims process to help cover these costs. If flood waters were contaminated, additional remediation may be required to ensure my home is restored to a safe and sanitary condition. Local health departments can provide guidelines on proper restoration procedures. With my home fully dried and restored, I can start to replace damaged contents and get settled back into my daily life.

Prevent Future Flooding

After going through the ordeal of flood damage, I also evaluate ways to reduce the risk and impact of any future flooding. Some options include installing a sump pump, waterproofing basements or crawlspaces, regrading my yard, and using flood barriers like sandbags if flooding is imminent. I can also have a loss prevention specialist inspect my home and make recommendations. They may suggest raising electrical components, anchoring fuel tanks, using flood resistant building materials, and installing backflow valves. Implementing preventative measures gives me greater peace of mind and preparedness. My insurance company may even provide discounts on premiums for taking these steps.

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