Water Damage Reno | Tips For Flood Clean-Up


After the floodwaters have gone and cleanup has been completed, most people want to return to their houses or businesses and begin rebuilding. Wood that has been soaked in water will almost certainly have absorbed a significant quantity of water. Too rapid a restoration after a flood can lead to additional issues such as mold growth, insect infestations, and wood decay.

Floodwaters are not clean water, therefore most porous construction materials must be removed and replaced with fresh ones.

Caution!

  • Examine the door for any structural or electrical damage caused by the elements. Determine whether it is safe to go inside based on this.
  • In a flood, electrical safety is critical. Look for fire hazards and gas leaks as well. Use battery-powered light sources instead of traditional lights.
  • When using bleach, avoid combining it with ammonia or vinegar.
  • Rubber gloves and eye protection are recommended.
  • Be on the lookout for snakes, fire ants, or other animals.
  • If mold is detected, use a respirator that can filter spores.

First Steps

Make sure that everyone is clear of impending flood crests, fires, and collapsing buildings. Assume that the water and debris are contaminated.

1. Flood Insurance Claims

Contact your insurance adjuster as soon as possible if you have flood insurance.

  • Clean up, salvage what you can, and dry as soon as possible. Do not wait for the adjuster to arrive. Take pictures of your belongings for use in an inventory. All of the procedures described on this page may be completed before a claim adjuster arrives.
  • Clean up everything so the adjuster can see what needs to be repaired.
  • For documentation, save any damaged goods.
  • When you call the adjuster, leave a phone number where you may be reached.
  • The adjuster will examine the house's damages. The owner should initial and then sign a proof of loss statement after discovering additional damage.
  • Contact relevant government offices for assistance.
  • If you don't have flood insurance, your homeowner's coverage is unlikely to cover the damage. If the flood has been designated a federal emergency by the President, visit https://www.disasterassistance.gov/ or call 1-800-621-FEMA(3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for deaf and hearing-impaired people to apply for aid.

2. Electrical Systems

Before you enter the property for the first time, be sure all electric and gas services are turned off. NEMA.org's book, "Evaluating Water-Damaged Electrical Equipment," should be downloaded and studied carefully. Before reconnecting the system, have an electrician check for grounds and other potentially dangerous conditions.

3. Food and Water Sanitation

Until your local water company, utility, or public health department says your water source is safe to use, purify it for washing any part of the body or dishes.

  • Water: Remove the cloth or filter from the strainer; then boil the water vigorously for a full minute. Let it cool if you can't boil it. Use fresh unscented liquid chlorine bleach (8 drops or 1/8 tsp/gallon of clear water; 16 drops or 1/4 tsp/quart) and stir; let stand 30 minutes in a plastic container with a lid, allowing all surfaces to be fully exposed to light. Iodine tablets and purification tablets are not suggested.
  • Food: If you take away the labels, wash the cans thoroughly, rinse them and then disinfect them with a sanitizing solution consisting of 1 tablespoon bleach per gallon of potable water, and re-label containers that had their labels removed, including the expiration date, with a marker, commercially prepared meals in all-metal cans or retort pouches can be preserved.
  • Utensils: Discard wooden cutting boards and spoons, plastic utensils, baby bottles, nipples, and pacifiers that have been contaminated by water. Wash metal and ceramic dishes, pans, utensils, and plates in hot soapy water then sanitize them by boiling them in clean water or immerse them for 15 minutes in a solution of 1 tsp chlorine bleach/quart.

4. Furnishings and Carpets

Remove any furniture, bedding, or carpeting that may have gotten damp.

  • Flooded carpets and rugs are typically replaced because floodwater may contain pollutants. Carpet pads that have been flooded should always be thrown away and replaced.
  • Within 48 hours after the water has receded, remove water-logged carpets and pads.
  • Outside, rugs and carpets should be sprawled out. Hose them off if necessary. If dirty, have it cleaned professionally or sweep in carpet shampoo with a broom. To sanitize the rinse well with 1-gallon water and 2 tablespoons of liquid household chlorine bleach (if colorfast). Do not add bleach to wool carpets.
  • The carpet and subfloor should be as dry as possible as quickly as feasible. It's possible that mildew will form if the carpet is installed damp.
  • Although carpets are often made to be flexible, they may shrink over time.
  • Flood-damaged furniture and mattresses should be discarded. If an upholstered furniture item is worth money, the stuffing and upholstery will need to be replaced. FURNITURE Cleaning & restoring may be done on solid wood, metal, or plastic furniture. Out of direct sunlight, hose off any mud, clean it with a mild detergent, then sanitize it.

5. Walls

Even if your walls appear to be sound, fill them with water and flood them. It's a good idea to seal any exposed drywall seams.

  • Water must be removed from the structure as soon as possible. It's important to ventilate.
  • Remove the baseboards to allow for easier drainage of uninsulated walls. Cut openings in wallboard to drain wet walls.
  • Remove the interior surface of insulated walls to a height higher than the water level. Burnt drywall should be removed.
  • After cleaning, undamaged paneling may be propped open or reassembled.
  • Remove and dispose of all wet fibrous insulation.
  • Remove all dirt and mud. To destroy any existing mold and fungus, wall studs and plates can be treated with disinfectant (1 cup bleach/gallon water).
  • Dehumidifiers and fans should be used when possible.
  • Leave gaps in your walls until they are fully dry, which may take up to a month.
  • Replace damaged or porous materials with waterproofing products that will withstand future floods (such as rigid foam insulation, removable wainscoting, ceramic tile, and so on).

Next Steps

Long-term water or dampness is likely to destroy most interior surfaces and contents, but if flooding is short-term, cleanup may be possible. Permanent repairs should be delayed until the building is completely dry, which might take weeks.

1. Subfloors

  • Submersed plywood or OSB subflooring layers will most likely split or swell. To avoid the new floor covering from bowing, affected areas must be replaced.
  • Allow the subflooring to dry fully after removing floor coverings, which may take months without a dehumidifier.
  • Before laying new flooring, check for warping.

2. Wood Floors

  • When boards begin to bow, carefully take one out every few feet to prevent buckling due to swelling. Consult a carpenter or flooring expert if tongue-and-grooved boards exist.
  • Before you install new flooring, make sure it is clean and dry. The process of cleaning and drying a hardwood floor can take weeks.

3. Tile and Sheet Flooring

  • Floors might be removed if a submerged wood subfloor swells or divides. (Only a trained professional should remove asbestos tiles.)

If the subflooring is made of concrete, removing the floor covering will speed up the slab's drying process, but it may not be necessary if doing so would damage an otherwise intact substance. Water can seep beneath loose sections of sheet flooring if it has soaked through. Remove the complete sheet if water has penetrated under the loose panels of sheet flooring. The ease of removing flooring is determined by the type of material and adhesive used. To find out what product and technique (if any) will release the adhesive, contact a reputable dealer.

4. Cleaning Wall Finishes, Woodwork, & Floors

Clean and dry any water damage as soon as the floodwater has receded to minimize mold and damage. Lead-based paint should not be sanded or scraped. Get more information before starting cleanup if the old paint is present. If you find materials that are already moldy, get additional information on mold hazards and recommended removal techniques from EPA's Mold Recovery publications at http://www.epa.gov/mold recovery books before beginning cleanup.

  • Consider switching from a phosphate-based cleanser to an all-purpose, or a disinfecting solution. Wash from top to bottom. Rinse with clear water.
  • A disinfectant of one-half cup chlorine bleach to a gallon of water may be used on nonmetallic, colorfast surfaces as a disinfectant (to eradicate surface mold and germs) right after cleaning, but it will not prevent new mold growth on materials that remain wet.
  • Allow plenty of time for the rug to completely dry. If the utilities are operational, turn on the air conditioner, fans, and a dehumidifier or desiccants to speed up the process.

5. Appliances and Equipment

Download and read the NEMA.org publication, "Evaluating Water-Damaged Electrical Equipment."

6. Furniture

To clean the patio furniture, bring it outside.

  • Remove any muck with a brush. All components (drawers, doors, etc.) should be uninstalled. To free trapped drawers and cabinets, make a hole in the back. The flooded cushion must be destroyed.
  • Commercial furniture-cleaning solutions targeted to the material are recommended. Wait until everything is completely dry before refinishing or waxing it.
  • Because sunlight warps furniture, it is best to leave items outside in the shade and gradually out of direct light. It might take a few weeks to several months for your furnishings to fully dry.

7. Preventing Mold

In the weeks and months after a flood, you must be aggressively mold-free.

  • To eliminate humidity, turn on the air conditioner (or heat in the winter) and a dehumidifier, if possible.
  • Open windows and employ fans to distribute the air in an un-air-conditioned house.
  • Turn on the lights in your closets and leave the doors open to help them dry more quickly.
  • Remove damp clothing from the washing machine and dryer after every use. Install exhaust fans in kitchens and bathrooms when cooking or bathing to remove moisture from the indoor air.

8. Removing Mildew from Household Articles and Upholstery

If you must bring moisture and mold spores into your house, consider alternatives. Clean mildewed goods outside. Learn about mold and how to prevent it from affecting you.

  • For visible mold growth, use a HEPA vacuum if one is available. Remove the vacuum bag after using damp paper towels to clean.
  • If you're in a hurry, place damp towels or clothes on top of the limes to absorb any excess moisture. If you can, leave them outside in the sun to air dry.
  • Any remaining mildew should be wiped away with a thick wash or a professional cleaner for the sort of material.
  • Wipe the surface clean with a soft, barely damp cloth.

Remove mildew stains from your dryer's blower housing and air vents with a clean cloth dampened with diluted alcohol. Dry completely.

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