After the Flood
by Adam Bailey
April showers might bring May flowers, but they might also bring flooding issues.
Spring is a perfect time for flooding, be it due to the thawing snows of winter not being absorbed into the still frozen ground below, or excessive rains causing the gutters and bodies of water to overflow their boundaries. When flooding occurs, it can cause serious damage to your home and belongings, not only from the water damage itself, but also from the mold that can potentially find a new home among all this newfound moisture. Knowing how to act when your home is hit by flooding can go a long way toward mitigating further issues down the road.
As always, we strongly recommend consulting with professionals in the field of flood and/or mold remediation to ensure that everything is properly done to protect and restore your home.
Cleanup & Mold Prevention After a Flood
Before returning to your home after a flood, first ensure that it is safe to reenter the structure. Once it is safe to be inside the home again, cleanup should begin as quickly as possible, as mold can begin growing after as little as 24-48 hours after the introduction of moisture.
Your first step is going to be to remove any items/furniture that did not get wet. These will need to be moved to a safe space outside the home, so as to prevent contamination by mold or water as you clean the rest of the home.
Next, you are going to want to also remove the items and furniture that did get wet, making sure to remove them to an area that will prevent any mold that has already begun growing from contaminating the rest of your home while you clean. Securing these items with plastic bags or sheeting can further prevent the spread of mold spores.
Now that your home is emptied out, it is time to get the space dried out:
- Removing Flood Water – To facilitate drying your home out, you will want to first remove any standing water that may be left after the flood. Mops, buckets, and towels are going to be helpful as you remove as much standing water as you can; for severe cases, pumping equipment can be obtained to pump the water out for you.
As you remove the water, try to remove any dirt or debris that the flood may have brought into your home.
- Drying out Your Home After a Flood – Your ultimate goal is to reach and complete this step as soon after the flooding as possible, as the longer moisture lingers in your home, the more opportunity mold has to set up shop and make your life more difficult. Devices like dehumidifiers, fans, or heaters can help to dry out your home faster, but you’ll want to make sure that the home’s infrastructure is safe to use electrical devices. Assuming the outside air isn’t too humid, opening windows can also help speed up the drying process.
As you dry your home, you’ll also want to check the building materials that make up your home for specific flooding issues:
- Carpet – If the carpets in your house got flooded, then your best course of action is going to be to remove it entirely. The carpet backing, in particular, takes an especially long time to dry, creating an ideal habitat for mold growth.
- Drywall – Drywall is a very porous material that creates another great breeding ground for mold when it gets wet. As such, it, too, will need to be removed. More specifically, you will want to cut away drywall from about a foot above where the moisture in the drywall ends.
If you have too much else to get to before cutting the affected drywall out, a product like MoldHold can be applied to the contaminated segments to help contain any mold growth until the drywall can be properly dealt with.
- Other Building Materials – Anything else porous that got wet will need to be removed, as well.
If you find any wet pieces of wood, they should be fine to keep in use once they are completely dry, as long as mold hasn’t begun growing on the wet wood before you get to it.
Insulation, like carpet, takes too long to dry out completely, so you should dispose of any wet insulation you find.
While it is important to ensure you remove any wet building materials as soon as you can, it is equally important to ensure that the home is thoroughly dried out before replacing any of the removed materials. Replacing materials too early can lead to the new materials soaking up any lingering moisture, which will lead to a brand new mold problem to deal with. Here, again, it will be helpful to be working with professionals, as they will have and know how to use tools that can measure whether the wall is completely dry more accurately than sight and touch alone.
After you have gotten your home totally dried back out. You will want to clean and disinfect all the surfaces in the house, both to prevent mold growth and to eliminate any other contaminants introduced either by the flood itself or during the cleanup process. Most regular household cleaners should be okay to use for this step, and antifungal solutions can also be used to help inhibit mold growth.