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Restoring Your Home After Water Damage

By Luke Armstrong

Whether you experience three inches or three feet of water in your home from flooding, basement backup, heavy melting ice, or maybe a burst pipe, the event is always devastating. First, you’re struck with panic over what to do and where to start. Then you’re consumed by disappointment at the sight of your damaged belongings. Next, assuming the flooding is instantly manageable and action can be taken, you snap into repair mode just to get things under control.

Flood damageKnowing you are in for grueling times, but fueled by pure adrenaline, you dart to and fro, shutting off water, electricity and gas feeds, filling buckets and hoisting them to a dry spot for disposal; vacuuming up water by the gallon, pumping out water with a sump and hose. Once the floor is in sight, if the flooding was minimal, you grab paper towels, washcloths, hand towels, bath towels, bed sheets, rags and anything else in your home to soak up as much of the remaining water that you can.

Once you’re down to damp floor, it’s back to the indoor/outdoor vacuum, and then blasting every fan you own or could buy at the hardware store at high speed. You do this for hours and hours, hoping to draw out moisture and dry the area. And don’t forget you’ll need to run a dehumidifier for weeks until the last ounce of moisture dries up. And this is a best-case scenario.

Watch for hidden dangers

Even in this scenario, you could still have flood damage you can’t see. Did water get into the walls? How long was the water standing? Have you exposed your family to dangerous molds and chemicals that weren’t whisked away by your cleanup efforts? Is the structural integrity of your home still intact?
All of these are things a professional restoration company can help you determine and avoid by using their expert flood cleanup methods to resolve them.

Pumps, vacuums and towels can only do so much. If the water is deep and standing for even a short time, home-made methods will do very little to resolve long-term issues because flooding brings many inherent dangers. After the water recedes, you may be left with shovels full of mud in your home — and that mud contains most of the germ-born health hazards associated with flooding. But that’s not the only danger: Attempting flood restoration on your own can also put you at risk for electrocution and structural hazards, as well as bites from snakes and other animals brought in with the flood water.

Other risks come from outside. If you also have floodwater around the outside of your home this could cause other dangers. Although your natural instinct is to rush to pump water out of your home, you should delay this if you have standing water around the outside. The water outside creates a force against your home, and by removing the water inside your home, you also remove the equalizing pressure, which may put your home at greater risk for structural damage.

What damage does water do to your home?

Some damage you can see; other dangers are hidden, but these are the main areas of concern:

1. Wallboard will disintegrate if it remains wet too long; wood can swell, warp, or rot; electrical items can short out, malfunction, start a fire or cause shock.

2. Mud, silt, and unknown contaminants in the water not only get everything dirty; they also create a severe health hazard.

3. Dampness promotes the growth of mildew, a mold or fungus that can grow on everything without you realizing it until it’s too late.

Why put yourself and your house at greater risk?

First, take some preventive measures by checking with your insurance agent to see what is covered and what is not in the event of flooding. Even if your insurance covers flooding it may not cover mold, which can begin to develop in a few hours. So it is essential to take immediate action when you have water damage.

Be prepared by locating a qualified ServiceMaster expert in your area through our Web site, Then if you do experience flooding, you can immediately contact our water damage restoration specialists. After initial water damage clean up, they will professionally clean and apply measures to prevent health hazards and place industrial fans and dehumidifiers as needed for several days or more to dry out your house and remove the hidden hazards that regular cleaning can’t combat.

The same way that damage due to floods are extensive, so are the procedures involved in repairing the damage, and the hazards are many. Focus on your safety, your family and your sanity first, and entrust the recovery and restoration process to our professionals. You and your family have been through enough with the ordeal itself and the emotions that accompany any resulting loss of property, security or good health.

Try our Cost of Flooding Tool Simulator.

If flooding was a result of sewer backup you can take one more ounce of prevention by installing a water alarm. Similar to a smoke alarm a water alarm sounds when water touches it, and offers great protection at a low cost. Available at most hardware stores, a water alarm costs anywhere from $10 to $20 and is well worth it.

Read more about Water Damage Cleanup Service Costs

Read more Water Damage Cleanup – Helpful Tips

Important Flood Safety Tips from the American Red Cross

The reasons to entrust flood damage restoration to the professionals are many, and are demonstrated below by the American Red Cross. Take these safety tips to heart during a flood to keep you and your family safe.

Do not walk through flowing water
Drowning is the number one cause of flood deaths. Most drownings occur during flash floods. Six inches of moving water can knock you off your feet. Also, use a pole or stick to make sure that the ground is still there before you go through an area where the water is not flowing.

Do not drive through a flooded area
More people drown in their cars than anywhere else. Don’t drive around road barriers because the road or bridge may be washed out.

Stay away from power lines and electrical wires
Electrocution is also a major killer in floods. Electrical current can travel through water. Report downed power lines to your utility company or local emergency manager. Turn off your electricity when you return home. Some appliances, such as television sets, can shock you even after they have been unplugged. Don’t use appliances or motors that were wet unless they have been taken apart, cleaned, and dried.

Watch for animals, especially snakes
Small animals that have been flooded out of their homes may shelter in yours. Use a pole or stick to seek, poke and turn items over and scare away small animals.

Look before you step
After a flood, the ground and floors are covered with debris including broken bottles and nails so do not go barefoot and proceed carefully. Floors and stairs that have been covered with mud area also very slippery.

Be alert for gas leaks
Use a flashlight to inspect for damage. Don’t smoke or use candles, lanterns, or open flames unless you are sure that the gas has been turned off and the area has been aired out. Carbon monoxide exhaust kills. Use generators or other gasoline-powered machines outdoors. The same goes for camping stoves. Fumes from charcoal are especially deadly so cook with charcoal only outdoors.

Clean everything that got wet
Flood waters pick up sewage and chemicals from roads, farms, factories, and storage buildings as they move. Food, medicine and cosmetics touched by floodwater are health hazards. When in doubt throw them out.

Take good care of yourself
Recovering from a flood is a big job. It is tough on both the body and the spirit. And the effects a disaster has on you and your family may last a long time. Try to stay calm, and rest when you can.