In my opinion, this is the most important step in the rebuilding process. The outcome of the build back is highly dependent on the quality of the clean up. The Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification says, “Before entering a building where flood damage may have occurred, make sure it’s safe: check for electrical hazards and structural damage, and use proper protective gear like boots, gloves and respirators. Before you start any construction or repairs, check for common hazardous materials like lead paint and asbestos, which may require help from professional and State-licensed contractors.
Take plenty of pictures. For an example of what your photos should look like, click here. Be sure to include photos of the exterior and interior waterlines before you start tearing out the walls or cleaning up. If you start cleaning up before our inspection date, take photos before the cleanup. Also, if it’s safe, take pictures showing the flooding in and around your home. If it’s not safe to get these pictures, do not risk it. You can email these pictures to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to include your name and address in the Subject line.
The severity of damage escalates the longer water sits in your house and the everything stays wet. Time is of the essence in the aftermath of a flood. In fact, mold will grow within 48-72 hours, so aim to start removing water along with water-damaged items within 48 hours. Once these wet items are removed, start drying. If you can’t do all of this yourself, there will most likely be a number of professional water mitigation companies canvassing and working in your neighborhood. Your policy will pay for some if not most of their services. If you or your water mitigation company have any questions, please contact me.
Mold loves moisture and organic materials such as paper or particleboard. In order to mitigate or slow damage, open windows if weather permits and place fans inside of them to keep air moving and maintain moderate temperatures. Work toward the fan as you clean to minimize cross-contamination.
The losses that are the result of disasters are usually measured in dollars, but often the losses that matter the most are the cherished items and heirlooms that are closest to the hearts of you and your family. Although these treasured items may be damaged in floods, hurricanes, or tornadoes, it is often possible to salvage them. With a little patience, prompt action, and professional tips, saving treasured photographs, letters, and other irreplaceable objects is possible, although it may involve a follow-up consultation with a conservator. See the FEMA Fact Sheet here.
Assess the type of water absorbed by items, such as rainwater, water from broken pipes, contaminated river water or bacteria-filled sewage. There are ways to salvage specialty items but the decision on whether to save or trash an item will vary depending on the dollar and sentimental value to the owner. It may not be worthwhile to salvage drywall, carpets, and pads, mattresses, pillows, box springs and particleboard. On the other hand, it might be worthwhile to restore costly Persian rugs, leather couches, and antiques or heirlooms. Wet clothing and many household fabrics may be salvageable through machine washing, and a 10-minute soak in detergent and hot water, to remove contamination and stains. The IICRC strongly recommends that in water damages where there are contaminants present (e.g., bacteria, sewage, mold) or where small children or immune-compromised individuals are present that an inspection is conducted by an appropriately trained restorer and remediator.
Hidden and concealed pockets of saturation need to be opened up for cleaning and drying. Layers between building materials hold water that must be discovered and removed or dried. On walls, find the water line and inspect at least a foot above it to make sure all damage, wet materials, and mold are removed. Remove and discard the damaged drywall and wet wall insulation. Wet carpets can usually be dried by professionals with the right equipment, but carpet padding, which is like a big sponge, should be discarded. Wood base trim and hardwood can also be saved with the right equipment if they can be accessed and completely dried on both sides. Remember to investigate concealed cavities such as behind walls, in mechanical spaces, under cabinets and furniture, and in crawl spaces.
Durable, non-porous or semi-porous materials, such as studs and joists, hardwood flooring and vinyl products, can be cleaned with common cleaning products or specialized products with detergents. During cleaning, take care to protect areas that are unaffected by the water or mold. After a thorough cleaning of salvageable materials, a disinfectant solution may need to be applied in case of harmful bacteria from sewage, river water debris or even standing water that has gone bad. Professionals like water restoration and mold remediation contractors and indoor environmental professionals can help you decide what is best for your situation. Once you’ve cleaned the wet materials, conduct another round of cleaning. If you choose to vacuum, use a HEPA-filter vacuum to remove allergens, fine dust and spores.
In order to prevent dry rot and structural damage, it’s important not to reconstruct or cover wood and other wet materials until the moisture content has been adequately reduced. A water restoration professional can confirm proper drying before reconstruction.
If you have any questions, contact me
Every claim is unique. If you or your water mitigation company have any questions about what is covered and what is not covered or what the policy will and won’t pay for, please contact me. Also, if you hire a water mitigation company, please have them contact me so I can discuss your claim with them.
The Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification says, “Before entering a building where flood damage may have occurred, make sure it’s safe: check for electrical hazards and structural damage, and use proper protective gear like boots, gloves, and respirators. Before you start any construction or repairs, check for common hazardous materials like lead paint and asbestos, which may require help from professional and State-licensed contractors.