Detailed Restoration Steps Involved with Flood Remediation

Flood Damage Cleanup Requirements: Recommended Steps for Recovery

When your property floods, water can wreak havoc on the structure, your personal belongings, and the health of your indoor environment. Flood waters contain many biological contaminants (like bacteria and mold), as well as mud. High dollar items can get destroyed all at once, even with just an inch of water, for example: carpeting, wallboard, appliances, and furniture. A more severe storm or deeper flood may add damage to even more expensive systems, like: ducts, the heater and air conditioner, roofing, private sewage and well systems, utilities, and the foundation.

After a flood, cleaning up is a long and hard process. Here is a list of common techniques for sanitizing and cleaning flooded items:

  • Call your insurance agent. If your insurance covers the damage, your agent will tell you when an adjuster will contact you. Record keeping is extremely important, so take plenty of notes, digital pictures, or even videotape your clean-up efforts.  These will come in handy when submitting your claim, applying for disaster assistance and income tax deductions.
  • Contaminated mud:  Shovel out as much mud as possible, then use a garden sprayer or hose to wash away mud from hard surfaces.
  • Clean and disinfect every surface. Scrub surfaces with hot water and a heavy-duty cleaner. Then disinfect with a solution of 1/4 cup chlorine bleach per gallon of water or a product that is labeled as a disinfectant to kill germs.  Unfortunately, it is virtually impossible to disinfect every surface, so professionals also use high output ozone generators to ensure that every surface has been sanitized.
  • Kitchen:
    • Soak glass, porcelain, china, plastic dinnerware and enamelware for 10 minutes in a disinfecting solution of 2 tablespoons of chlorine bleach per gallon of hot water. Air-dry dishes, do towel dry.
    • For silverware, metal utensils, and pots and pans they'll have to be disinfected by boiling them in water for 10 minutes. Chlorine bleach is not recommended because it reacts with many metals and causes them to darken.
    • Clean and rinse cupboards and counter tops with a chlorine bleach solution before storing dishes.
  • Furniture and household items:
    • Furniture, rugs, bedding and clothing should be removed and dried as soon as possible. An air conditioner or dehumidifier (along with circulating fans) should be used to remove moisture in the flooded area.  If mold and mildew have already developed, brush off items outdoors to prevent scattering spores in the house. Vacuum floors, ceilings and walls to remove mold, then wash with disinfectant. Use a P-95 respirator to prevent breathing mold spores.
    • Throw away all mattresses that have been in contact with flood waters.  The same goes for toys and stuffed animals.
    • Upholstered furniture soaks up contaminants from floodwaters and should be cleaned only by a professional.
    • Some furniture, (e.g. wood veneer) is probably not worth the cost and effort to repair, and should be discarded.  On the other hand, solid  wood furniture can be restored, unless damage is significant.
    • Photographs, books and important papers can be frozen and cleaned later. They should be dried carefully and slowly. Wash the mud off and store the articles in plastic bags and put them in a frost-free freezer to protect from mildew and further damage until you have time to thaw and clean them or take them to a professional. 
  • Ceilings and walls:
    • All wallboard, plaster and paneling that has been soaked by floodwaters must be removed to at least the flood level, because it can be a permanent health hazard. Use a reciprocating saw with a metal cutting blade to remove the walls, but use only the tip of the blade and watch out for pipes, duct work and wiring.
    • Plaster and paneling can often be saved, but fans and dehumidifiers must be deployed to dry the studs and sills.
    • Most insulating materials (e.g. Styrofoam and fiberglass) can be saved, as long as they are cleanable and dried out.  Blown-in cellulose typically should be replaced as it tends to hold water for a long time and will also tend to loose its anti-fungal and fire retardant properties.  
  • Electrical:
    The main breaker should be shut off and the whole system inspected by an electrician before it can be turned back on. All wiring must be dry (even behind walls), as well as switches, light outlets, and junction boxes.  Look for mud that might have infiltrated these electrical systems.  Mud or dirt in a grounded outlet or adapter may prevent the grounding system from working, and you could be electrocuted.
  • HVAC System and Ductwork:
    Depending upon contact, the system should also be inspected by a professional.  Again all electrical connections and insulation should be evaluated.  All mud must be removed.
  • Appliances:
    Appliances must be cleaned and serviced to remove stains, odors, silt deposits, and grit.  The hard exterior can be hand cleaned. Using appliances before they are properly cleaned could cause serious damage, and may present an electrical hazard.  All metallic appliances that have been flooded should be properly grounded to prevent electric shock. Most electronics, (TVs, radios, stereos, DVD Players, dishwashers, and small appliances), are very difficult to restore, and in many cases will need to be replaced. 
  • Basement:
    A basement full or nearly full of water, should NOT be emptied all at once.  Rather, pump out 2 or 3 feet of water each day; because if you drain the basement out too quickly, the pressure outside the walls (due to excessive ground water), will be greater than the pressure inside the walls. This may cause the walls and floor to crack and potentially collapse.
  • Floors:
    Floor coverings (like vinyl, linoleum, and carpet) must be removed so the sub-flooring can dry thoroughly (which may take a long time). Dehumidifiers and circulating fans should be used to help with water extraction.
    • Carpeting:
      Clean and dry carpets and rugs as quickly as possible. For long-term health reasons, if sewage-contaminated floodwater covered the carpeting, it must be discarded.  Even if it was covered with water for more than 24 hours, it should be replaced. Rugs can be taken outdoors and hosed down to clean, then professionally cleaned as a final step.
    • Wood floors:
      Wooden floors should be dried slowly. If done too quickly, drying wood floors could cause cracking or splitting.  Clean and dry wood before attempting repairs.
  • Roof damage and leaks:
    • Defective flashing: Wet spots near a chimney or outside wall may mean the leak is caused by defective flashing, narrow flashing or loose mortar joints.  Repair or replace defective flashing as soon as possible to prevent any further problems.  
    • Clogged downspouts or eaves: Check for downspouts that are clogged.  If it can be done safely, snow or ice can be shoveled off of the roof to prevent water from backing up under the shingles.
    • Cracks and deterioration: If roofing has deteriorated, (usually on southern exposures first), the southern slopes should be inspected for cracking or deterioration, and repaired if necessary.
    • Holes: To find holes or missing shingles, check for a drip trail or spot of light coming through in the attic. Stick a nail, straw or wire through the hole to mark the spot on the outside, and repair as soon as possible. 
  • Septic Sewage Systems:
    May lead to a back-up of sewage in the building, contaminated the indoor environment, and even the drinking water until the system is repaired. When flooding or saturated soil conditions persist, a private septic system will not function correctly.  Septic systems rely on oxygen to reduce the amounts of chemicals and living organisms (viruses, bacteria and protozoa). When the soil is saturated or flooded, those untreated microorganisms can enter the groundwater and your drinking water supply.  Use bottled water until the system can be restored to safe, working order.

After successful clean-up and restoration, the remediation process is not complete until all the hidden biological and chemical pollutants are destroyed. A broad-based sanitization strategy, like ozone, will ensure that the indoor environment is safe to reoccupy.  For more information about SanusAer® High Output Ozone Generators, please visit:

http://www.SanusAer.com

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