After the floodwaters have subsided and the cleanup has been completed, most people want to return to their houses or workplaces and begin rebuilding. The issue is that wood immersed in water has almost certainly absorbed a significant quantity of moisture.
Flood Restoration Checklist
After a flood, it’s tempting to start rebuilding immediately in order to get your property back up and running as quickly as possible. However, rapid rebuilding can lead to longer-term issues such as mould growth, insect infestations, and wood and wall coverings deterioration.
Floodwaters are not clean water; therefore, most porous construction materials must be removed and replaced with fresh materials.
- Examine the structure and electrical damage on the outside to see if it’s safe to enter.
- In floods, the importance of electrical safety cannot be overstated. Examine for fire and gas leaks. Use battery-powered lighting sources if possible.
- Do not combine chlorine bleach with ammonia or vinegar.
- Wear protective gear including rubber gloves and goggles.
- Snakes, fire ants, or other creatures may be lurking.
- Wear a respirator that can filter spores if mold is present.
Ensure that the entire city has been evacuated from the danger of new flood crests, fire, or collapsing buildings. Assume flood water and flooded areas are contaminated.
1. Flood Insurance Claims
Contact your insurance company as soon as possible if you have flood insurance.
- Cleanup, salvage, and drying should be done as soon as possible. Do not wait for the insurance agent. Take photos for use as evidence. Before an agent comes, any of the recommendations on this page may be completed.
- Clean house so the agent can see the damage.
- Take pictures of any damaged items as evidence.
- The agent will assess damages to the property. The owner will sign a proof of loss statement. An additional damage claim can be added when discovered.
2. Electrical Systems
Before your first entry, make sure all electric and gas services are turned off.
Before reconnecting the system, have an electrician inspect for grounds and other hazardous conditions.
3. Food and Water Sanitation
Until your local water provider, utility, or public health department deems your water supply safe, purify all of your water for drinking, cooking, washing any part of the body or dishes.
- Water: Strain the water through a clean cloth or filter; then bring to a boil for one full minute; then let cool. Use fresh unscented liquid chlorine bleach if boiling is not an option (8 drops or 1/8 teaspoon per gallon of clear water, 16 drops or 1/4 teaspoon per gallon of cloudy water; 30 minutes to stand). Purification tablets and Iodine are not recommended.
- Food: Undamaged foods in metal cans or retort pouches can be ke[t after the following steps. Remove labels, wash and rinse the cans, disinfect them with a sanitizing solution containing 1 tablespoon of bleach per gallon of clean water. Finally, use a market to re-label the cans, including the expiration date.
- Utensils: Discard flood-damaged wooden cutting boards and spoons, as well as plastic utensils, baby bottles, nipples, and pacifiers. Remove all visible food from metal and ceramic pans, utensils, and dishes. Wash them with hot soapy water and then sanitize by boiling them in clean water or immersing them for 15 minutes in a solution of 1 tsp chlorine bleach/quart water.
4. Furnishings and Carpets
Remove all furniture, bedding, and carpeting from your home to be cleaned and dried (or trash).
- Flooded carpets and rugs should be replaced since floodwater is likely to include pollutants. Flooded carpet pads should always be replaced.
- Within 48 hours of your water levels returning to normal, remove damp rugs, carpets, and pads.
- If the structure is salvaged, spread rugs and carpets outside. When finished, rinse the curtain with a solution of 1-gallon water and 2 teaspoons liquid household bleach to disinfect (if colourfast). If you’re dealing with carpeting made from wool, don’t use bleach.
- Remove any furniture or other items that may still be wet. If the carpet is installed damp, it will mildew.
- Carpet that has shrunk might be stretched by a professional.
- All upholstered furniture or mattresses contaminated by floodwater should be discarded. If your upholstered furniture item is valuable, the stuffing and upholstery will need to be changed. In most cases, furniture made of hardwood, metal, or plastic can be cleaned and renewed. Remove any mud, clean, sanitize, and allow to dry fully in a safe location away from direct sunlight.
Even if your walls appear to be in good condition, seal them closed to avoid mould, odour, and structural deterioration later.
- Remove as much water as possible from the building as soon as feasible. Ventilate the area to assist remove moisture and promoting drying.
- To drain uninsulated walls, remove the baseboards and cut holes in the wallboard.
- Remove the inside surface of insulated walls to a point just above water level. Flooded drywall must be discarded.
- After cleaning, the panelling on your wall may be propped open or reinstalled.
- Remove and discard all damp, fibrous insulation.
- Remove any remaining mud. To eliminate any existing mould and fungus, wall studs and plates may be disinfected (1 cup bleach/ gallon water).
- Dehumidifiers and air conditioning systems also help.
- Until your walls have fully dried, leave them open to avoid condensation. It might take a month for your walls to completely dry.
- Install waterproofing materials (such as rigid foam insulation, removable wainscoting, ceramic tile, and so on) to prevent future floods.
Long-term flooding or dampness is likely to ruin most interior materials and contents, but short-term floods and cleanup efforts may be feasible when water levels subside rapidly. Temporary repairs must be delayed until the structure is fully dry, which might take weeks.
- Layers of submerged plywood or OSB subflooring are likely to separate or inflate. To prevent the new floor covering from bending, replace damaged sections.
- Allow the subflooring to dry fully after floor coverings have been removed. This can take months without an air mover.
- Before laying new flooring, check for warping.
2. Wood Floors
- If a board expands after installation, remove one every few feet to minimize buckling as a result of swelling. If tongue-and-groove boards are used, get advice from a carpenter or flooring expert.
- If the floor must be sanded, stained, and refinished, it will take weeks or months to complete.
3. Tile and Sheet Flooring
- When a submerged wood subfloor swells or separates, flooring must be removed. (A non-combustible tile covering should be handled only by an expert.)
- If the flooring is concrete, take it out to dry the slab quicker. But if there is a material that you do not want to be damaged, then don’t do it.
- Remove the entire sheet of loose sheet flooring if water has seeped between individual tiles.It depends on the type of material and adhesive. For example, it’s easy to take up linoleum if the floor is not glued down well. To discover whether a product or technique (if any) will loosen the adhesive, contact a reputable vendor.
4. Cleaning Wall Finishes, Floors & Woodwork
If the water recedes rapidly, clean and dry as soon as possible to prevent mould and damage.Do not sand or scratch lead-based paint. Before you scrape off old paint, be sure to get as much information as possible. If mould is already present when you begin cleanup, check out our Mold Hints and Removal Techniques section for more information on avoiding mould hazards and recommended removal techniques.
- Use a phosphate-free, all-purpose, or disinfecting solution. Washing in this order will help you avoid cross-contamination. Rinse with clear water and dry naturally.
- A disinfecting solution of one-half cup bleach to a gallon of water may be used on nonmetallic, colourfast surfaces as a disinfectant (to destroy surface mould and germs) after cleaning, but it will not prevent new mould formation on materials that remain damp.
- Allow it to dry naturally and quickly. If the utilities are still operating, use air conditioning, fans, and a dehumidifier or desiccants to help speed up the process.
To clean the furniture, bring it outside.
- Remove all debris. All parts (drawers, doors, etc.) should be cleaned. To free jammed drawers and doors, remove or cut a hole in the back. Flooded cushioning should be disposed of.
- Commercial furniture-cleaning chemicals designed for the sort of material should be used. Wait until the wood is completely dry before refinishing or waxing it.
- Because sunlight warps furniture, it’s best to avoid direct exposure. It might take weeks to months for the item to fully dry.
6. Preventing Mold
Maintain control of mould in the weeks and months after a flood.
- When power is restored, use air conditioning (or heat if the weather is cold) and a dehumidifier to remove moisture as soon as possible.
- In an unair-conditioned house, open windows and use fans to move air about.
- Turn on the lights in the closets and open them to aid drying.
- Try avoiding activities that produce moisture in the air and utilize exhaust fans when cooking and bathing.
7. How to Get Rid of Mold on Furniture and Household Things
Remove any dampness or mould growth before it becomes a problem. Examine mildewed items outside to ensure that they are clean.
- Remove visible mould growth with a HEPA vacuum, if one is accessible. The bag should be discarded. Wipe clean with damp paper towels and seal in plastic bags, or do it the old-fashioned way: wash thoroughly with detergent and cold water (per manufacturer’s instructions).
- If possible, place wet items in the sunshine to dry.
- Rinse any remaining mildew away with a powerful detergent or a non-abrasive cleaning product specified for the material.
- Wipe the surface clean with a slightly damp towel.
- Wipe away mould and mildew stains with a clean cloth dampened with a solution of diluted alcohol (1 cup rubbing or denatured alcohol to 1 cup water). Allow drying fully.