Anyone who has experienced a natural disaster understands how life is turned upside down. Whether damage has been done by a hurricane, earthquake or fire, it is devastating. Many homeowners experience flooding after hurricanes or other large storms that blow through an area. The Red Cross has an excellent publication called “Repairing Your Flooded Home” that details the entire recovery process. Let’s look at the importance of drying out your home after a storm has passed.
Drying Out Your Home and Mold Remediation
The Red Cross emphasizes that flooding will damage your home in three different ways:
- The water damages materials, such as wallboard, wood and electrical parts.
- Mud, silt and contaminants in the floodwaters not only leave everything they touch filthy, but they can also leave behind dangerous bacteria and viruses.
- The dampness leads to the growth of mold and mildew.
Steps to Clean Up (to be followed in order)
- Reduce the humidity. You need to lower the humidity in your home to stop the damage. (You won’t be able to do all of these steps if your power has not yet been restored.) Open up the house if the humidity outside is less than the humidity in your home. Open closet and cabinet doors (don’t force them if they won’t open) and remove the drawers to let air circulate. Use fans to help your home dry out faster, but don’t use your central air/heating unit if the unit was flooded, until it has been cleaned out. Run a dehumidifier and use desiccants. Call a contractor who specializes in water damage restoration and mold remediation. They have powerful equipment and will be able to help you dry out your home much quicker and assess the damage. However, beware of fly-by-night operators who spring up after natural disasters looking to make a quick buck. Be sure you’re working with a reputable company.
- Organize your belongings and throw out what is ruined. Mold removal is critical. Move the things you will be keeping to a place where they can continue to dry out. Don’t let wet wood furniture sit in the sun because it will warp. Pile all the things that are ruined outside and keep them until the insurance adjuster has a record of them.
- Throw out garbage such as rotting food quickly because it will attract rodents. If your insurance adjuster has not arrived, call him to let him know you need to dispose of some items and then follow his directions so that you are properly compensated for all your losses.
- Drain the ceilings and walls. Check the Red Cross article for the proper way to drain these depending upon the materials they were constructed with.
- Dry the ceilings and walls. Again, refer to the article for specific instructions.
- Finally, dry the flooring. If you have wall-to-wall carpet that has been soaked by floodwaters, you will usually have to throw it out. Be sure you keep a piece of it to show your adjuster. Circulate the air with fans. Hardwood floors need to be dried slowly, and for every few planks, remove one to protect the wood from buckling as it swells. Tile, linoleum and vinyl will most likely have to be removed to allow the sub-floor to dry.
When recovering from a catastrophic event, be sure you take advantage of local and national resources and carefully follow their guidelines during the recovery and restoration process.