Flood cleanup procedures

Posted by Matt Buchanan

Chances are if you’ve arrived at this article, your home flooded and you’re considering doing the cleanup work yourself. Maybe you’re not insured for the loss, or maybe you’re just trying to save money on your deductible. Whatever the reason, you’ve decided you are up to the task and can get your flooded home clean, dry and mold-safe quickly. Congrats on your high level of confidence! Unfortunately, having seen first hand what typically happens after a DIY flood cleanup effort has taken place, we can’t in good faith recommend this course of action for you. But if you’re still intent on tackling the work yourself, here are some article you may find useful:

http://www.floodsafety.com/national/property/cleanup/

http://healthybuildings.com/indoor-air-quality/flood-cleanup-procedure/

http://inspectapedia.com/Building_Damage/Flood_Response_Step6.php

 

Water damage companies are not all the sameSo if you’re feeling like rolling the dice, feel free to review the sites above and take a stab at restoring your home after a flood. BUT, and there’s always a but…we just can’t recommend it. Why? Because we’ve seen firsthand the results of flood restoration work that was performed by DIYers (and even un-certified restoration companies) and it’s not good. Maybe you’ll get lucky and somehow do the job correctly, but more often than not you won’t be able to properly clean, dry and disinfect your home and the end result will be an unhealthy home with a costly mold remediation project.

So with that said, it’s important for us to layout what we do professionally. At a minimum, it will hopefully give any DIYers a second to pause and ask themselves, “Is this really something I can do? Or should we call in the Pros?”

 

How flood cleaning procedures are done professionally

 

So let’s take a few minutes to walk you through how a flooded home should be mitigated. It’s important to note at this time this is simply a top-level view of general steps usually taken. Each flood is different, and will require a different approach. That is why any water damage company will tell you their first step is to perform a full assessment of your loss to determine how best to proceed.

 

Assess water category

 

The first thing that must happen is to know the level of toxicity present in the water that has flooded your home. Did it flood from a supply line pipe break? That’s clean water, and doesn’t present a danger for those performing the cleanup. Or did it come from a nearby river and pass over the ground before entering your home? Or even worse, is the flooding from a sewage backup into your basement? If so, the danger becomes immense and it will greatly affect the mitigation efforts, both in terms of the safety equipment necessary and the procedures that must be implemented.

water-damage-categories

 

Remove household items

 

Family moving

Once works begins, the first goal is to get items out of the way so that further measures can be taken. Depending on the water category of the loss, items will either be temporarily removed then placed by in the affected room to be dried in place, taken to an offsite warehouse where the drying and restoration process can be done, or thrown away completely. If you try the DIY route and end up trying to clean an item of furniture or other household item that can’t be properly cleaned (even with professional equipment), you could end up making members of your home really sick.

 

Moisture diagnostic

 

Now we get down to the nitty gritty. Where has the water gone? If you have standing water, it’s easy to see it obviously. But what isn’t clear to most homeowners is that standing water is a relatively easy threat to mitigate. The challenge, and where most novices get tripped up, is not digging further to understand where gravity has sent the water below the surface. Water travels through any porous or semi-porous surface, meaning it will travel through walls, under subfloors, into cabinets, etc. If you can’t properly determine where the water went, you can’t possibly remove the moisture quickly enough to prevent black mold. And here’s the big problem: you aren’t going to be able to find that moisture but touch or feel. You have to use expensive, sophisticated moisture detectors to find the water. So for those DIYers out there, go to your garage or shed and find your tool box. Dig through it and find a thermal imaging camera, moisture meter and moisture probe. What’s that? You don’t have those? Of course you don’t! So please understand you’re trying to tackle a big problem with both hands tied behind your back! Here are just some of the ways a professional basement flood damage company finds hidden moisture:

moisture-content-drywall

 

Moisture-Detection-wall-floor

 

water-damage-moisture-readings-wet-carpet

 

digital-moisture-meter

 

Flood water removal

 

basement-water-extraction-systemA lot of times this is easy with the right equipment. If it’s clean water in a flooded basement and there isn’t a lot of debris, you can usually apply a water pump to safely remove the water. But in other instances, the job becomes more complex and requires a variety of different water extraction systems. When a professional mitigation company arrives at your house, hopefully they’ve asked the right questions over the phone and have a good idea of what they’re up against when they get there. This will ensure they’re equipped with all of the equipment necessary to tackle the job quickly. How quickly? Professionals can usually have the water out within about 1-2 hours of being onsite. Why is that type of speed important? See below…

 

Apply mold prevention solutions

 

As a water damage company, mold is always our biggest threat and worst enemy. It’s so aggressive and pervasive that we have to take very extraordinary measures to keep it from taking over while we work. Part of those measures is spraying down any wet area with a mold inhibitor. The key word is inhibitor because it really only gives us a couple of days to dry out the home before the mold starts fighting back and winning.

 

Dry, Dry, Dry!

 

drying-water-damaged-cabinetsStructural drying must happen quickly! Within 48-72 hours after the flooding damage occurs mold will take over. So that means we have to dry out the structure as quickly as possible. Do you really think you can borrow some fans from neighbors and open some windows and that your surfaces are going to dry out quickly enough? Not to mention each surface has to be dried to a specific moisture content level in order to be safe from future mold growth. Do you have the precise instruments that make that possible? Probably not!

 

Is your home flood damaged?

 

Free flood cleanup cost estimateIf your home is flooded and you are wondering whether or not you should try tackling the job on your own, we hope you’ll take a minute to give us a call. At the very least, we can come up and help you understand what you’re up against and let you get a better feel for what it will cost to fix. Our onsite estimates are always free, and there is never an obligation from homeowners to move forward with our restoration services.

 

About Matt Buchanan

I grew up in Irving, TX and left for Nashville, TN for college. After college I lived in Washington, DC and then in Cairo, Egypt. After coming back to the states, I spent a couple of years back in Dallas before moving with my wife to Denver!
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