Thursday, November 11, 2010

Cleaning Up Flood Water Damage


Flood water damage causes more problems than other kinds of water damage. Unlike grey water from broken plumbing, that's relative sanitary, flood water is classified as black water, in the same category as sewage. Flood water also tends to spread through the entire floor of a house, not just one or two rooms. This article will give you some basic pointers for water damage clean up.

This first thing to do is clear the flooded rooms of any and all water damaged objects. This includes curtains, pictures on the wall, books, clothes, media devices, and anything else affected. Consider replacing as many of these items as possible, rather than trying to repair or restore them. This will be cheaper and quicker in the long run.

The next step is to remove any water that's still standing. If it's a lot of water, more than you can pick up with a mop, use a HEPA vacuum or some kind up pump to handle it. Any pump you use should not rely on the power supply in the house, since the house's wiring might suffer from water damage. Use a battery powered or water powered sump pump. A water power sump pump is ideal, since its suction mechanism gets its force by connecting to a garden hose faucet. These solutions will remove most of water, so that you'll be left with less than 1/8" of water to mop up.

Next, you want to dry the rooms with a set of high velocity air movers and a low temperature dehumidifier. Your goal is to get the humidity level to stay consistently under 50%, measured with a humidity meter. While the air movers and dehumidifier are running, it's a good idea to bring in a commercial grade air purifier as well, to eliminate any airborne microorganisms that will be circulating due to the air movers. Your goal with drying is not just to eliminate dampness, but more importantly, to prevent the growth of toxic mold and mildew. Once all of the room surfaces are dry, wash them down with a solution of 25% bleach-to-water, then wipe them down with clear water.

The final step is to address the ceiling, floor, and wall water damage. Water stains on the surfaces can't actually be removed, but they can be covered. Apply a layer of primer on the affected areas to kill the stains, then apply paint that matches the surrounding surface.

More important than taking care of the surfaces, however, is checking ceiling, floor, and wall cavities for water damage, and replacing any affected materials, such as subflooring, insulation or drywall. These cavities, being dark and humid, will breed toxic mold in as little as 48 hours if left untreated. This will be pretty labor intensive to do yourself, so it's recommended that you hire an IICRC certified specialist in Water Damage Repair.

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