Whether a home flood is from a broken water pipe or from outside flooding, the clean-up process consists of the same process. First, you will need to stop the water leak or wait until the floodwaters recede so you can begin removing standing water from inside your home. After that, it is a matter of drying out and eliminating the excess moisture from your home as quickly as possible. Here are some tips to help you through your water damage cleanup.
Inspect For Mold
As you clean up after a flood, keep in mind the race is on against time and any potential mold growth. Mold spores in a moist environment can begin growing in as fast as 24 to 48 hours.
Don't rely just on visually inspecting any materials in your home for mold, as mold growth will begin in tiny spots that you may not be able to see at first, but are present and can cause adverse health reactions in you and your family. Mold growth may not be visible to you for several days to a week or more. You may actually be able to smell the mold before seeing it, as it gives off a musty and earthy smell.
Remove Water-Damaged Items
After flooding, there are some items that cannot be dried properly and will need to be removed. This includes drywall that has become wet from the flooding and any insulation behind the walls. Be sure to remove drywall one foot above where the water line of the flood. This recommendation is to help prevent mold growth up above the water line, as moisture can seep into the sheet rock and cause internal mold growth.
Also included in this discard list are carpeting and carpet padding. Many old carpets containing dirt allow the mold to grow even faster than 48 hours, as the dirt is a source of food for the mold. Upholstered furniture, and mattresses or bedding that that cannot be professionally cleaned for mold spores should be discarded. Other items, such as blankets, clothing, and small fabric items can be washed in your clothes washer in hot water or using bleach during the wash cycle. Then, dry the items in a hot clothes dryer to fully remove all the moisture.
Remedy and Prevent Mold Growth
Once all porous items have been removed, clean and treat other items to prevent mold growth and remove any present mold growth. Wipe down non-porous surfaces with a disposable rag and a ten percent bleach solution made from one and one-fourth cup of bleach to every gallon of water. Allow the bleach solution to remain on the surface until it air-dries. This will give the bleach time to stop any mold spore growth.
After you have cleaned, dried, and disinfected items to prevent mold growth, watch for signs of mold growth over the next couple of weeks. Discard any items that begin to grow mold even if you have treated and cleaned them for mold spores. Some items may have mold spores deep inside their materials and pores, which cannot be removed by cleaning and will need to be discarded.
It is also recommended to clean exposed studs and wall joists that have been soaked in flood waters. After the water-damaged drywall has been removed, use a non-ammonia detergent, hot water and a cleaning rag to wipe down the surface of the wood. This will treat and clean the surface of the wood to prevent mold growth.
Dehumidify Excess Moisture
Your home will need to be dehumidified to remove the extra moisture from the air and the internal surfaces. Open windows in your home and turn on fans to circulate the air and dry out the humidity. You can also use room heaters or run your furnace or central air conditioner system, which can help pull moisture from the air and dry out surfaces.
Along with these tips watch for symptoms of mold exposure, such as shortness of breath, wheezing, and headaches in you and others helping the clean-up, and wear a breathing mask to prevent the inhalation of mold spores.