A flood can be devastating, not only to your home and contents, but also to your well-being. The chaos that follows along with the feeling of hopelessness can be overwhelming. But your home and many of your furnishings can be restored. If you do things right, your flooded home can be cleaned up, dried out, rebuilt and reoccupied sooner than you think.
The goal of this document is to offer a resource for repairing a home damaged by flood and to mitigate future damages by incorporating flood-proofing practices into your rebuilding program. Keep in mind that safety is the most important thing in your preparations. Follow all safety precautions prior to entering your home, including turning off electricity and gas prior to entering. There are many resources available to assist in determining best safety practices in this environment (e.g., the Red Cross and FEMA). Also, research what you can do to prepare for future flood damage by ensuring you have flood insurance and a well-thought-out response plan.
- Make a list of damaged items and structures you observe.
- Keep a photographic and/or video record of the damage, both before, during and after cleaning.
- Flood water generally contains mud, bacteria, sewage and chemical toxins. Plan to dispose of all porous materials that may retain contamination after drying.
- Look for any signs of mold.
- Look for wood damage, including:
- Wood rot in the end-grain of lumber structures
- Distortion and warping of floor boards, wall boards or ceilings
- Doors that ‘stick’ from swollen frames
- Termite damage
- Determine how high the sheetrock is compromised.
- Insulation – If you have Styrofoam insulation, it may be able to be washed off and kept; other insulation that has been saturated will most likely need replacing.
- Inspect the roof for missing shingles, cracks, holes and defective flashing.
- Call professionals that may need to do a deeper inspection of:
- Air conditioning / heating system
- Structural damage
- Sewage system
- Electrical system
Protect Your Home from Further Damage
- Patch holes in roof, windows or walls with boards, tarps or plastic sheeting.
- Remove debris – tree limbs or other trash that may have landed on or floated in your home.
- Check for broken or leaking water pipes. Cut the water supply if needed.
- Check for drains clogged with debris.
- Check for sagging ceilings and drain carefully.
- Remove any water trapped within the walls.
Cleaning Up – All contents that have been flooded should be thoroughly washed and disinfected.
- Remove mud with a shovel
- Hose the house and its contents to get rid of the balance of the mud.
- Clean and disinfect windows and hard surfaces.
- Remove damaged sheetrock, insulation, carpet, linoleum.
- Clean any mud and water out of duct work – use disinfectants.
- Remove salvageable items; store items to save in a dry place.
- Remove all unsalvageable items for disposal.
- Remove all garbage items, food or anything else that can spoil immediately.
- If your flood was salt water, hose off your lawn and shrubs.
Drying Out – Time is of the essence to prevent the growth of mildew and preserve personal items, but again, safety is first! Use the following methods to dry out affected areas of your home:
- Open windows and doors.
- Use a dehumidifier.
- Large fans
- Wet vacs
- Use desiccants (materials that absorb moisture), especially in enclosed areas that air cannot move through.
- Open closet and cabinet doors.
- Don’t forget to remove standing water in your yard as well, as a flood creates ideal conditions for mosquitos to breed.
Rebuilding and Floodproofing – Flood-proofing is the best way to prepare for future floods and lessen potential damage.
- Give your house plenty of time to dry – problems result from rebuilding before everything is dry.
- Make sure you have all building permits and/or contractors needed to repair or rebuild in place.
- When replacing wall studs, use a termite pretreatment program that includes mold prevention applied to all exposed studs prior to closing in.
- If you are repainting, make sure the surface is completely dry.
- Elevation – If you had foundation damage from the flood, you may need to raise the house (using a qualified contractor) to repair it. It also may be easier and cheaper to elevate the house permanently at that time to protect from future flooding. Inquire with your contractor regarding logistics and expense.
- Floodwalls and berms can be built to keep flood waters from reaching your house.
Remember, water invading your home doesn’t necessarily mean it’s destroyed. If your home was not already compromised by termite damage or wood rot, much of it may be salvageable. Take the necessary precautions when entering and assessing damage, and make sure you use a licensed contractor to make necessary repairs within their scope of work.
Aaron Steckeklberg, B. B. (n.d.). How water damages a flooded house – and which parts can be saved. Retrieved from The Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2017/national/flooded-homes/?utm_term=.60d0d2d8f350
FEMA. (n.d.). Red Cross. Retrieved from Red Cross: https://www.redcross.org/images/MEDIA_CustomProductCatalog/m4540081_repairingFloodedHome.pdf
Ricasa, T. (n.d.). Putting the Pieces Back Together After a Flood. Retrieved from Fast Home Help: http://www.fasthomehelp.com/disasters/flood