Whatever the cause of your home flooded, you need to know what to do after a flood occurs. If you have your house flooded due to groundwater, some natural calamity, falling water or any other malfunctioning, here are the top practises to implement for a flooded house within the first 24 hours to ensure safety and get the best possible insurance claim.
House floods continue to remain a persistent challenge in the US and all over the world, leading to losses in millions of dollars for properties. According to statistics, 37% of homeowners in the US have experienced some kind of water damage, with more than 14000 people experiencing water disasters each day.
Preserving your property after a flood is no doubt daunting, but it is a make or break situation and, therefore, a must to follow these critical steps.
House Flooded: 10 Things to Do After a Flood
Safety First for House Flooded Situations
- Wait until it is safe enough to return to your house or till authorities say it is safe.
Tip: Check out information from local television or radio stations.
- Enter only after officials have inspected it for safety.
Tip: Check out what not to do after a flood!
- Turn off gas lines, water sources and electrical services placed outside.
- Get an electrician to check the grounds before you reconnect the system.
- Wear waterproof boots, gloves, face mask and keep a first aid kit, flashlight, dust mask and battery-operated radio handy. You will also need pails; mops; squeegees; garbage bags; detergents and large containers.
- Use battery powered lights.
- Watch out for wildlife, poisonous snakes and critters in the area.
- Steer clear if you smell gas or see any damaged electrical wires.
Tip: Download the flood safety checklist!
Stopping the Source
The first step for a flooded house cleanup is stopping the source, unless the flooding is caused due to a natural calamity, of course!
- Locate the source of the flooding and then turn it off and even seal it.
- Turn off the main valve for water.
- Check out bathroom features that might be malfunctioning.
- Look for a leaky appliance or water spots on the floor or the walls.
- The source could also be a clogged gutter or drain pipe, a septic tank, backed up sewage lines or some other exterior cause.
- Washing machines, sinks, water heaters, plumbing elements, sump pumps, cracks in the ceiling or walls, burst pipes can also be the cause.
Check Structural Damages
Flood waters are not clean, so wood that was submerged in water absorbs a lot of water, leading to mold and deterioration and causing structural damage, especially if the water is allowed to remain for an extended time. What to do after a flood in your house?
- Bring in experts in case of serious damages to see whether you can repair the house or whether demolition is the only feasible option.
- Check out whether corners have been weakened or if there is any change in the angles of the structure.
- Look for bulges, cracks and sagging in the floor, ceiling and the walls of the house, giving special attention to the basement flood cleanup.
Tip: If there are cracks in the ceiling and walls and if the ceiling sags, it might have to be replaced.
Call the Insurance Company
If you have house flood insurance, call up the company immediately.
- Take pictures of the house.
- Clean it up but retain the damaged materials to show proof.
- Get a signature for proof of loss. You can always add more items to the statement later.
Tip: Apply for online government assistance if the house flood is a federal disaster.
- Store valuable papers that may have been damaged and consult your lawyer.
- Register the damage amount with your insurance agent as well as the local municipality at once.
- Can you be denied flood insurance? Check out whether you are eligible for flood insurance.
- What to do if house flooded and no flood insurance? You can still try and get a a small grant from FEMA.
Removing the Water
Air circulation is the key to drying out any structure. Check out these cleaning up after a flood tips!
- Start with the attic. Remove soaked items stored in the attic as the weight could lead to cracking of the ceilings below.
- Open windows as well as vents.
- Inspect ceilings, as they could be holding trapped water. Poke holes on the edges to release ceiling water. Use hand drills.
- Open the windows of all the rooms, as fresh air will help dry out wall cavities.
- Wash down wooden floors. Remove wet mud from all objects like furnishings, paintings, photos and furniture.
- Use pails for removing any standing water and then a vacuum for mopping up.
- Rinse and clean floors.
Tip: Remove standing water from the flooded home with a sump pump. Many hardware stores offer them for rent.
- Disinfect drains using detergent and water. Remove grime and dirt by scrubbing.
Reducing Mold Damage
Protect your and your family’s health by preventing mold damage after a flooded house.
- Mold/mildew starts growing about 24 hours after the flood.
- It can form in the attic, basement and in crawl spaces all over the house.
- Try to clean and dry moldy items and if that is not possible, just discard them. Discard items that cannot be cleaned, such as wallboards, fiberglass, cellulose areas.
- Wooden and porous furniture material trap mold and should be discarded.
- Glass, plastic and metal items can be disinfected and reused.
- Carpets have to be dried within the first 2 days, but if it is soaked with sewage, it has to be discarded.
- Clean all areas with soap, detergent and bleach and dry the areas.
Post Flood Care
Learn how to clean up your home after a house flood.
- Sanitize all surfaces that come in contact with food.
- Throw out carpets, mattresses, stuffed toys etc. that absorb water.
- Throw out all food, drinks, medicines, canned food, plastic utensils, etc. that were exposed to the water.
- Confirm that the water you drink is clean. Don’t drink the water or wash the dishes in it till you are sure of this.
- Disinfect all dishes and cooking items that were touched by flood waters.
- Ask an electrician to come to your home and inspect the electrical system. Find out if it is safe to turn the power back on.
Repairing Your Flooded Home
Do the repairs yourself or call up a contractor. If the home has been severely damaged, it may have to be demolished. However, in case of moderate damage, you can conduct repairs.
- Get a professional to survey the damage and make an assessment on the repair costs.
- Cover the holes on the walls, windows and the roof using plastic sheeting and boards.
- Tape it with duct tape or nail it using wooden strips, so that further damage is not caused.
- Repair sagging floors or ceilings.
- Remove all the debris, such as tree branches, in the house as well as outside.
- Get rid of the mud left behind by the flood water, as it poses a grave health hazard.
- If you have drywall in your house, use a dehumidifier or hire professional companies to dry it. You can then repaint the walls.
After cleaning up, you cannot move back into your house till:
- The water supply has been checked by officials and has been declared safe to use.
- All the rooms contaminated by the flood have been thoroughly cleaned, disinfected and dried.
- All the cooking utensils have been thoroughly washed, disinfected and dried.
- Clean and safe toilet facilities are present.
- If you find that your home is not habitable, then secure your property.
- Put up boards on the broken windows and put tarpaulin on roofs that are damaged.
- Take your valuable and place them in storage units.
- Collect all important documents and photographs and leave.
Tip: It is important to secure your home to protect it from burglars, homeless people, outlaws and vandals.
There is always the possibility that your house might get flooded again.
- While carrying on repair works, use a material and practises that prevent or at least minimise the possibility of recurring flood damage.
- Buy flood insurance.
- Be prepared with flood response plans.
Wrap Up – What to do After a Flood Occurs
If you fail to take these important measures after your house is flooded, it can result in expensive damages to the house structure, the electric system. Moreover, it can result in growth of mold and lead to serious illnesses, allergies, asthma and so on.
There are also several flood clean up kits that offer detailed safety instructions. You could also contact nearby non profit organisations that offer instructions that offer you help in the form of sandbags, boards and so on to protect your home.
In addition, there are government agencies that offer supplies, so you can check the EMA (Emergency Management Agency) and the NFIP (National Flood Insurance Program), to access local resources.