It doesn’t matter if the flood is a result of a broken pipe or outside water flowing into your house, you need to get the situation cleaned up as soon as possible. The longer the water is allowed to sit in your house, the greater the damage to the structure will be. If your home was recently flooded, here are some steps you should take immediately to get a jump start on cleaning up the mess.
Shut Off the Power
Shut off the main power circuit for you house and unplug anything that was plugged into a wall outlet. Don’t assume that just because an outlet is up high that you won’t have to worry about it. Water if trapped behind a wall will sometimes be soaked up through the insulation which can put moisture into the outlets that are several feet about the flood area. In this case, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Pump the House
The simplest way to remove water from your home is a sump pump, a piece of equipment all home owners should have. The trick to using the sump pump is making sure that the water drains out somewhere well away from all buildings so you don’t have to deal with a second flood. If possible, position the pump so that water will roll down hill and away from all the buildings on your property.
The sump pump should get a majority of the water out of your house, but the odds are pretty good that you’ll find some areas that still have puddles. A wet vac is the most efficient way of removing the small puddles, but if you don’t have one of those, you’ll need to use a mop and bucket.
Get Things Dry
Getting the standing water out of your house is just one thing that needs to be handled. Don’t even think about considering the cleanup job done if the place is still damp. At this particular moment, your house is the ideal breeding ground for all kinds of mildew and molds, including black mold. It’s in your best interest to get the place dry before the spores have a chance to settle. If possible, pull up your carpets and take them outside. They’ll dry faster in the sun and wind, plus it gives them a much needed opportunity to air out.
Don’t be surprised if the underpadding beneath the carpet is a lost cause. When it’s dry, the underpadding is great, but when it gets wet, it soaks up all the moisture and it’s unlikely you’ll ever really get it dry again. In the long run, replacing the padding is generally the best bet.
While you wait for your carpets to dry, you need to take a spray bottle of white vinegar and spritz anything that got wet. You’re going to want to have several bottles of white vinegar on hand for this project. The vinegar might not smell great, but it does a better job of killing off mold spores than any chemical household cleaner. Even more importantly, the vinegar won’t harm babies and pets the way a chemical cleaner would.
Your house will dry faster if you can get the air moving. Setting up several fans so they blow on all the wet spots is a great start. If you have access to a dehumidifier, you should use it too. While you wait for the carpets, floorboards, and walls to dry, you can examine your furniture and books and see what can and can’t be salvaged. The odds are pretty good that you’ll have to discard many of your books. It doesn’t take much water to destroy them, but you might be able to save some of your furniture, especially if you are willing to pay to have it reupholstered.
When the wet floors and baseboards have dried take a good look around. If you see or smell any sign of mold or mildew, you’re going to have to reapply the vinegar. Make sure you pull up any laminate that got wet and look underneath to see if the floor is dry.
Once you are satisfied that your house is once again dry, you can move all of your personal belongings that weren’t damaged by the flood, back into your home.
Have you ever dealt with major flooding in your home? How did you handle the clean up process?