A Helpful Guide to Deal With Water Damage in Your Home

Picture: Vidar Nordli-Mathisen

Whether your property has experienced water damage due to a burst pipe, faulty appliance, natural disaster, or something else, it’s hard to know what to do. You can be so overwhelmed by the water inundating your home that all you can do is stare at it in shock. As traumatic as a flooding event or water damage can be, it’s essential to take charge of the situation and remedy it as soon as possible. If you need a helping hand knowing what to do to get through this challenging experience, consider taking some of these actions below.

Call Water Damage Experts

Time is of the essence when your home has experienced water damage. The faster you start drying out your home, the easier it might be to prevent mold from taking up residence. Click here for more information to see how water damage experts can help. Most of the best water damage companies use the latest equipment and supplies to help with:

  • Water removal
  • Anti-microbial application
  • Drying
  • Dehumidifying
  • Monitoring

You might even be able to rely on these same experts to assist in the potential recovery of possessions and building materials affected by water, such as wood flooring, insulation, plaster walls, and important paper documents.

Call Your Insurance Company

Of equal importance to hiring water damage experts is calling your insurance company. If your homeowner insurance policy covers water damage, they will likely send out an assessor to learn more about your situation and calculate your losses. To help with this process, take photos and document everything you’ve lost due to the water damage.

It’s important to note that all home insurance policies don’t automatically cover flood damage. Check yours to see if this vital add-on forms part of your policy or if you’ll need to cover all losses out of your own pocket.

Turn Off the Electricity

Water and electricity don’t mix, so if there’s standing water in your home or water flowing in at a level that will likely reach your power supply, turn off electricity at the mains if it’s safe to do so. If it’s not safe to do so, contact your local electrician, who can advise on the best next step to take and how to keep yourself and your loved ones safe.

Start the Drying Process

Even if you decide against using water damage experts to restore your home to its pre-flood status, you’ll still need to start the drying process once you’ve been given the all-clear to re-enter your property.

Start by removing everything that will need to be dried out, cleaned, or thrown out, such as furniture, flooring, insulation, and drywall. You can then make a plan for these components individually, such as professional furniture cleaning experts for upholstered furniture, skip bins for unsalvageable building materials, and dry cleaners for clothing, rugs, and curtains.

The drying process also includes removing standing water with mops, buckets, tubs, and towels. When you remove as much water as possible, ventilate the area and use a dehumidifier to speed up the process. If your home has only experienced mild water damage, a wet-dry vacuum cleaner might be all you need to dry flooring like carpet.

Prioritize Mold Removal

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), mold takes just 24 to 48 hours to start forming on damp surfaces, including:

  • Wood
  • Ceiling tiles
  • Drywall
  • Fabric
  • Plants
  • Food
  • Insulation
  • Cardboard
  • Wallpaper

Almost nothing in your home is safe from mold growth and mold colonies, which reproduce by tiny spores that travel through the air. Water damage experts can take care of mold before it becomes a problem or once it has taken hold, but you can also combat mold yourself with household products, such as:

  • Gloves
  • Buckets
  • A broom and mop
  • A scrub brush
  • A painting or respirator mask
  • Trash bags
  • Sponges and rags
  • A wet-dry shop vacuum
  • Disinfectant chlorine bleach
  • Non-ammonia detergent, soap, or a commercial cleaner

Make sure the area you’re cleaning is well-ventilated, and put on your gloves, mask, and eye protection. All hard and non-porous surfaces, like plastic, wood, glass, and metal, can be cleaned with non-ammonia detergents and hot water. You can then disinfect your cleaned surfaces with a 10% bleach solution that you leave on the surface for 10-plus minutes before cleaning it off with water or leaving it to dry.

Porous materials like clothing, bedding, rugs, and furniture might not be safe from mold contamination, even with air drying. Try cleaning porous materials with pine oil or phenolic cleaning products, allowing them to dry and monitoring them for mold growth. If mold starts forming or you notice strange odors, throw the items away.

How to Prepare Your Home for a Flood

You might be able to prevent water damage in your home related to faulty appliances and burst pipes through maintenance, but Mother Nature is a different story. However, there are steps you can take to lessen the impact of a flood on your family and home.

Move Everything Up High

When a flood warning has been issued for your area, try to elevate as many items in your home as possible. Roll up rugs, unplug electrical items and elevate them, and place boxes of valuables high on shelves. You might not be able to move fridges, freezers, and other large appliances from their current locations, but consider securing them in place to prevent them from floating and causing further damage.

Place Important Items in Waterproof Bags

You might not be able to take everything of importance with you when evacuating a flooded home, but you might be able to ensure they remain in excellent condition when you return. Invest in waterproof bags and seal everything of value in them. As an added precaution, store them up high.

Waterproof Your Basement

By controlling the moisture levels in your basement, interior basement waterproofing can help prevent mold growth. It can also help reduce the musty odors often associated with damp basements. It’s important to note that a professional waterproofing contractor should perform interior basement waterproofing to ensure that the job is done correctly and effectively.

You don’t have to wait for a flooding emergency to prepare your home. You can do it in advance by waterproofing your basement and installing a sump pump. Pair this with a battery-operated backup in case your area experiences a power outage.

There is no way to fully prepare yourself or your home for any flooding event, but there’s plenty you can do before and after to be as prepared as possible. Take note of these tips above, and you might be ready for what Mother Nature brings.