Clean Up Tips for Water Damage in Your Home
You have just had a flood in your home and now the horror of it all sinks in. A lot of damage, keepsakes possibly ruined, you need to work fast to minimize the damage and prepare for safe clean up to get your life back in order.
Some of your items can be saved, such as furniture and carpet depending on the type of water and how long it has been in it. Electronics are likely a no go.
This is a serious event. Flood waters and the remnants of such a disaster need to be completely removed and dry. If not, it can become a place where mold grows and then you are in even worse trouble. Mold can ruin furniture, flooring, carpets, walls and more. In addition to that your air quality can become an issue too possibly causing respiratory health risks such as asthma and could lead to debilitating illness. You need to be up on cleaning the problem thoroughly and keeping your home air clean and safe.
According to IICRC Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Water Damage Restoration (IICRC S500), there are three categories of water that cause damage in buildings. They are summarized as follows:
Category 1 Water – That which is clean at the releasing source and does not pose a hazard if consumed by humans. Category 1 water may become progressively contaminated as it mixes with soils on or within floor coverings or building assemblies (walls, decking, subflooring). Time and temperature, which promote the growth and amplification of microorganisms in water can cause Category 1 water to degrade. Examples: burst water pipes, failed supply lines on appliances, vertically falling rainwater.
Category 2 Water – That which begins with some degree of contamination and could cause sickness or discomfort if consumed by humans. As with Category 1 water, time and temperature can cause Category 2 water to become progressively more contaminated.
Category 3 Water – That which is highly contaminated and could cause death or serious illness if consumed by humans. Examples: sewage, rising flood water from rivers and streams, ground surface water flowing horizontally into homes. There are two ways in which water enters a building as a result of wind storm damage:
The first involves falling or windblown rainwater that enters as a result of damage to roof components or wall assemblies. The second involves horizontally traveling ground surface water (Category 3) containing silt and soil contaminants that infiltrate into structures, generally through doors or around foundation walls. This ground surface water (storm surge) may accumulate to a depth of several inches or several feet. When structures are partially submerged or remain substantially flooded for weeks, far more elaborate procedures usually are required.
Most household microorganisms (fungi, bacteria) typically require five conditions for germination, growth, amplification and dissemination. Generally, they include:
• organic food source, especially cellulose (e.g., paper, wood), which are found in abundance in construction materials
• moisture, even high humidity (67% RH plus)
• moderate temperature – 68-86°F/20-30°C
• stagnant air
• time – several hours to several days
Anything that can be done to control or minimize these optimum conditions will prolong the time required for microbial growth.
Take a look at some steps to consider in your clean up.
1) Speak to your insurance company to tell them what has happened and your course of action. Sure you are “covered” but make sure you cover yourself with what they will do for you. Keep any receipts for equipment, materials or other costs. Insurance companies should cover anything reasonable associated with protecting your property if water loss is covered by your policy.
2) Unplug any electronics and remove them, anything you can move;furniture, etc., should be moved quickly. Disconnect anything connected to power. The faster you remove your items – there is a decidedly better opportunity to save them. Turn off your power to any electrical connections that may become submerged if the water is still coming up.
3) The water has to go ASAP! There are many ways to remove the water. No Power? Bail it out, use towels, mops and buckets to try and get up as much water as possible. You can pour it down the drain, or in disperse it around your yard. Go over it with a wet/dry vacuum if you have one. Be very cautious with electricity and water in the same area! If you have a lot of water to start with, and power, perhaps purchase or rent a submersible (sump) pump to get the bulk of it out. Removing all water is the most important concern to prevent secondary damage. Mold growth can start in less than 48 hours.
4) Dry out your flooded area. Before you begin, gently take up the baseboards. If it is pressboard you will probably have to throw it away. Wood trim may possibly be saved, assess piece by piece. It may not be too late for your carpet. Depending on the type of water causing the loss and the quality of the carpet, you may be able to save it. However, you need to get it professionally assessed, dried, cleaned, and disinfected. When you have the affected/damaged area all cleaned up, it’s time to use fans and a dehumidifier to finish drying it up. If there isn’t any rain, open all the windows to get some air circulation going to help the process. Building materials such as drywall and wood if not dried properly is a perfect food source to start breeding the mold.
5) Disinfecting is needed. Once you are certain your affected area is dried out including concrete foundations and all wood structures, it’s time to use a good disinfectant to eliminate bacteria. Bacteria may have come from a sewer backing up during the flood – whether overland flooding or a clean water leak. Worse yet, a sewer back up may have been the source causing the flood. Apply your disinfectant to all surfaces affected by the flooding; floors, walls, furniture, and whatever else may have been exposed.
6) Mold growth prevention. Prevent mold growth. After you’ve disinfected and let the area thoroughly dry out, apply a mold prevention encapsulate. Look for a non-toxic product made with distilled water and inorganic salts.
7) Remove and dispose of damaged goods. Be responsible. Do not just throw it in a dumpster, take the time to sort it out and send to the appropriate locations – recycle centre, landfill, hazardous waste facility. Take the time to locate where old stains, paint, toxic liquids of other sorts, adhesives and ruined electronics; such as TV’s, cell phones, computers, drywall and furniture can be taken.
If you find yourself in need of help – give MSZ Restoration and Contracting a call at 1-403-978-7978 – We are here to help get your property and belongings back to pre-loss condition as soon as possible!
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by Sanjay Gupta / Mold-B-Gone Remediation in Atlanta