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How to Rehabilitate your House after a Flood

fixing_houseIf your house of flooded, what should you do when the rain stops and you have to repair your home? You want your house to be habitable again, but in doing so, be as safe as possible. The condition of your home may be very poor, so rehabilitate carefully. Here is what you should do:

  • Turn off the gas mains before entering your home.
  • Turn off electrical power, especially in flooded areas of your home.
  • Wear rubber boots and waterproof gloves, as you will be handling materials that were possibly contaminated by the flood.
  • Have a first aid kit ready for any minor injuries that result from cleaning.
  • Take photos or videos of your area to use for claiming insurance and tax deductions. Also, record all expenses you have made during your home’s rehabilitation.
  • Check your foundation for cracks and settling. Settling refers to when a house has a natural inclination to sink in, but when it goes too far in, this is when you need to call a professional. If your house is built on clay, rain will cause the clay to expand. When it dries, it will crack and endanger the home’s foundations. Also, check for undermining (holes in the base of the foundation, similar to a small tunnel.)
  • Look for cracks on your floors, walls, and windows. These are further indicators of faulty foundations.
  • Have your electrical systems checked by a professional.
  • If you have a basement and it’s flooded, pump out one third of the water every day, instead of doing all of it suddenly.
  • If there is a well, it should be disinfected.
  • Remove all insulation and dispose of it – it’s probably contaminated! Plaster may survive brief water exposure if the wall cavity is quickly dried. This will also help prevent contamination and potential decay of wood framing parts.

wood_houseFlooded Floors and Woodwork

  • Try to get a moisture meter. It will help you to more rapidly identify wet walls and finishes and to know when you can put back dry insulation and close the wall up. If you don’t have one, judge conservatively on what materials you will keep. If you’re not sure, replace it.
  • Wear strong waterproof gloves when cleaning floors and woodwork that were flooded. Also, use drinking water to wash you hands and face (with soap), and do this frequently.
  • If some walls were exposed to flood water, dry them inside out, including the interior framing. This can take weeks or months, depending on how long it was flooded, what building materials were used, and the house design.
  • While you can expect most wood paneling to be discarded, some trim and wall finishes can be salvaged if properly cleaned, disinfected, and refinished.
  • The walls that were not exposed to the flood should be dried quickly and thoroughly.
  • To prevent additional mildew and mold, use lots of hot water, a disinfectant, and an ammonia-free detergent. Scrub your floors and all woodwork within 48 hours of the flood, using a stiff brush.
  • Check all corners, crevices, and cracks for mud and silt, and remove it – then give the floors a final thorough wash with a non-sudsy cleaner like borax and water, following the label instructions; or, 1/2 cup of chlorine bleach with one gallon of water. (Avoid ammonia)
  • After the wood is thoroughly dried, choose what to throw away, and what you can reuse with mildew-resistant paint.
  • Beware of stained wood! Remove wood stain with paint remover, and clean the wood with a solution of three tablespoons oxalic acid (caution, this is poisonous!) and one pint of water. Then, thoroughly rinse the wood with water and leave it to dry.

Clean What You Can Keep

  • Gather all your pails and pumps remove all standing water. For the final stage, use a wet/dry vacuum cleaner.
  • Remove all contaminated materials and put them in plastic garbage bags for disposal. If any material was polluted by sewage water, label it, and throw it away.
  • Try to surface dry materials with heat and air within 24 to 48 hours. Quick drying and removal of contaminated items may help prevent the onset of biological contamination or mold growth.
  • Speed of drying will also depend on air circulation and its moisture content. Continuous circulation of heated air and dehumidification will help.
  • Check the wall cavities for water and mud. If present, remove interior wall finishes and insulation. Don’t limit it to the high water line, include capillary rise (water absorbed upward). Discard and replace all of it, even if it is 1/2 feet above the water line. If you see or feel moisture, remove the wood and replace it.
  • If the walls and floors can be saved, hose them down before they dry so that any unwanted residue will be hosed with it. Then, rinse them several times, starting at the bottom and working upward. Use chlorine bleach, but don’t mix it with ammonia (which has toxic fumes).
  • Allow the walls and floors time to dry. If the sun is shining, it will happen much sooner. Otherwise, you may have to wait a few months.
  • Check household items for mildew, and clean them if necessary.
  • Clean up and repair operations can take several months, so be ready for the long haul to make your home livable again.
About Raymond Hinaloc 16 Articles
Hello Guys, I'm Raymond.

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