Cleaning Up After the Floods - Water Damage Restoration Checklist
After the floodwaters have receded and the clean-up has begun, people are anxious to return to their lives and businesses. The issue is that wood and other absorbent building materials absorb more water the longer they are submerged.
Some materials will absorb more moisture than others, but most will experience significant damage to varying degrees when they are exposed to floodwaters for days at a time.
Unfortunately, flood water picks up all manner of detritus, sewage, and pollution as it moves through built-up areas, which means that the best recovery strategy is to remove all affected materials and rebuild.
A natural disaster like a flood is just one of many ways to experience water damage. Your property could also be subjected to burst pipes, HVAC malfunctions, and plumbing problems.
If your home or business has recently been affected by flooding or moisture, use this water damage restoration checklist to help you get back on track and on the road to recovery.
Turn off the Water Flow
Of course, this step might be impossible if the source of the damage is Mother Nature. However, your first step for burst pipes should be to cut off the water supply at the main shutoff valve to prevent further damage.
You should make sure you know where your main valve is on your property, so you don't waste time hunting for it. It could be inside, but most are outside near the street.
If a storm has removed part of your roof, you may need the help of a contractor or rescue service to cover the open areas of your roof with tarps. Ensuring you prevent further damage is critical because leaving your rooftop open to the elements may hinder your insurance claim.
Shutdown Electricity and Natural Gas
You can shut off your electricity supply by flipping a switch on your electrical panel. Never wade around in floodwater when you know the electrical supply is still live.
Natural gas should also be shut off, but you will need to contact your utility supplier and get them to do it. Don't start working around the area until you know both of these services have been shut down.
Before You Enter a Water Damaged Property
Before you set foot into a water-damaged property, you will need to make sure it's safe. Look for structural damage around the outside of the property and check for gas leaks, fire hazards, and live wires. Always use a battery-powered light source and never something like a cigarette lighter or kerosene lantern.
Keep an eye out for snakes and other wildlife after a flood. Confronting flood-stricken animals can be even more dangerous than usual because they are in a heightened survival mode. Spiders and ants can also be nasty hazards, as they will also be attempting to escape the rising waters in great numbers.
Mold can start its growth cycle in the first 24 to 48 hours. If it's been a couple of days before you've inspected your property, you should wear a respirator to filter out spores.
Call Your Insurance Provider
Once you have turned off the water flow, electricity, natural gas and determined the property safe, your next step should be to get a hold of your insurance provider and let them know about your situation as early as possible.
Depending on the type of water damage, you may only have a window of 48-hours to do this step with some providers. Failure to notify them promptly is a good excuse for them to deny your claim, so don't delay.
You will also need to check your policy as you may only be covered for certain types of damage, such as natural disasters, storms, or burst pipes.
Start taking photos of the damage, as the more proof you can provide, the more successful your claim will be.
You don't need to wait for the insurance adjuster to arrive before starting the cleanup process, so begin immediately. Provide the insurance company with your current cell phone number so the adjuster can contact you as soon as they arrive on site.
Starting the Water Damage Cleanup
Now enter the cleanup phase of the water damage restoration checklist.
Remove and dispose of all damaged items and materials. Take photos of everything you are discarding for insurance purposes, as you will need proof of ownership to maximize your claim.
There are some items you will need to keep for the insurance assessor to go over. A good water damage restoration service can help you with this part of the process.
Managing Food and Water
Food and water sources often get tainted during a flood. Until you get the all-clear from your public health department, you should assume that the water supply is unsafe to drink.
Use bottled water, but if none is available, you will need to filter your water and bring it to a rolling boil. Let it cool down before drinking.
Canned food may be used, providing you remove the labels and thoroughly wash and disinfect the outside of the cans before you open them. Relabel any cans you are not going to use right away.
Discard wooden utensils, cutting boards, baby bottles, and pacifiers. All metal utensils should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. You can do this with hot soapy water or by dunking them in clean boiling water.
Next Steps in Water Damage Restoration
The next few steps of your water damage restoration checklist are best left to the professionals. Buildings can often suffer structural damage after floodwaters have passed through.
A professional water damage restoration service will perform the following tasks:
● Identify water seepage
● Inspect damage and prepare your property for water damage restoration services
● Extract water from the affected areas
● Use thermal drying technology to speed up the drying process
● Sanitize and disinfect affected areas with industrial-strength cleaning products.
● Work with your insurance company to get your property fully restored as quickly as possible.
When disaster strikes, the last thing you want to do is delay the water damage restoration process. The faster you can get your insurance on board and your water damage restoration service working on a solution, the quicker you will be able to resume your regular routine and get back to enjoying life. Use this water damage restoration checklist to help you speed things along and keep yourself safe.