The Dangers of Failing to Properly Remediate After Flooding

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The Dangers of Failing to Properly Remediate After Flooding

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The number one priority when dealing with a property that has been damaged by flooding or flood waters is drying out what can be salvaged and removing the rest. This relates to all parts of the structure that are wet as well as any damaged items or debris remaining in the home. If proper steps are not taken immediately to remediate the water damage, the likelihood of successfully recovering anything is small. Additionally, flooding can cause structural damage and mold that could make the property unsafe.

The time it takes to fully dry out a home after flooding varies, but it typically requires between twelve hours to a few weeks depending on outside humidity levels/other weather and the steps taken in the immediate aftermath of a storm or flood.

Steps to Take After Home of Business Flooding

  1. Before re-entering any structures that have been flooded, you need to make sure there are no potential structural, electrical or major chemical hazards that could injure you upon entry.
  2. It’s also important to fully document any damage for your insurance company by taking pictures of all affected structures (interior and exterior) and items (make a catalogue of all possessions damaged by flood water). Failing to do so could mean underpayment of your insurance settlement.
  3. Dry out your home and remove any water damaged objects. This step is crucial; the longer your home is flooded or wet, the more long-term damage can occur.

Drying Out and Water Removal

Removing water, moisture and any mold or compromised surfaces, items and materials is your top priority upon re-entry.

Removing dirty water is important for a number of reasons:

  • Dirty water can lead to irritation, infections or other illnesses if it comes into contact with the skin. Standing water contains microorganisms and other bacteria that could pose a health risk, and the moisture will create a breeding ground for mold if not removed immediately.
  • Flood water can sometimes contain high levels of raw sewage or other water borne contaminants.
  • Use caution when running portable generators to operate drying equipment. Improper use could lead to carbon monoxide poisoning or electrical fires.
  • The EPA recommends boiling water for at least one minute for the purpose of cooking and also recommends not drinking from home wells unless these systems have been tested and cleared of all contaminants and hazardous chemicals.

Eliminating moisture and removing wet items is crucial in preventing mold:

  • When removing contaminated or compromised items during the drying process, always wear proper protective equipment such as gloves, safety goggles, water resistant shoes (such as boots or other sturdy footwear) and a face mask.
  • Any mold, dust or debris inhaled could lead to serious problems for your lungs.
  • Make sure to shower, wash your hands, and change your clothes after any mold-removal cleanup.
  • The CDC has mold cleanup guides, which outline situations where it is appropriate to use bleach to remove mold and steps for renters or homeowners.

Long term indoor air quality is also a concern when dealing with a property or dwelling that has been flooded:

  • Be sure to open all doors and windows to help speed up the dry out process and ensure there is no buildup of fumes or toxins.
  • Clean all items and allow them to fully dry before re-storing them within your home. If items are not able to be cleaned, they need to be thrown out. Remember to photograph these items in order to receive compensation when filing insurance claims.
  • Wear protective gear and take special caution if asbestos or lead are present as inhalation can lead to many respiratory health issues.
  • Failure to clean items and surfaces or to allow them to dry fully can lead to respiratory issues such as asthma, or skin and eye irritations.
  • If you experience any health problems (itchiness, labored breathing, burning eyes, etc.) upon reentry of your home, it could be a sign that dangerous contamination persists.

Don’t just paint or cover the damaged walls, floors or other structural elements. Scrub, clean, sanitize or remove every affected surface to reduce the likelihood of mold, rot or other issues.

  • Walls can be repainted, but only after they are thoroughly remediated, cleaned and dried.
  • Moisture can get trapped between the wall and wallpaper, which leads to mold. If you have wallpaper in your home, it’s best to remove it entirely and repaper.
  • If the water damage has affected your ventilation, heating or air conditioning system, turning it on could spread mold to other parts of the house or building. Proper inspection performed by an HVAC professional should be completed before running any of these systems.
  • If the water damage is extremely severe, don’t be afraid to call in professional contractors, HVAC experts or plumbers. They will ensure the proper steps are taken to fully remediate all flood damage to your home.

In many situations where significant mold growth is likely it is often best to trust the job to remediation experts with the proper experience, equipment and protective gear. Simple bleach and water mixtures may not be adequate to killing every type of mold. 

Many of the consequences of failing to remediate properly after a flood are health-related and could affect the long-term wellness of you or your family. As always, it’s best to err on the side of caution when remediating after a flood.