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How to Deal With Flooded Property

  • Homeowners who suffered flood damage should note these cleanup guidelines:
  • Be careful when entering a flood-damaged building.  Loose, wet ceiling plaster is heavy and dangerous, so knock down hanging plaster before moving around.  Watch for holes in the floor and loose boards with exposed nails.
  •  Once inside, turn off the gas and electricity.  Wear rubber-soled shoes or boots and rubber gloves and turn off the main switch using a piece of rubber, plastic or dry wood while standing on a dry board to avoid electrocution.
  •  Do not pump the basement until the water outside has gone down, as pumping a water-filled basement could result in the walls collapsing from the water pressure outside.
  • Never use a gas-powered pump or generator in an enclosed area; carbon monoxide fumes could overcome you.
  • Test plumbing and basement drains by pouring a bucket of water in them. If the water does not run out, remove the clean-out plug from the trap and rake out the mud with a wire.
  • Do not rush to move back into your home.  Before a house is habitable, it must be dried and thoroughly cleaned, since flood waters pick up sewage and chemicals as they travel.
  • Open doors and windows to ventilate and dry the inside, and wait until all floors, ceilings, walls and furnishings are dry and free of mold and mildew before trying to repair or salvage them.
  • Everything that flood water has touched should be disinfected.  Scrub down walls and any other smooth, hard surfaces with a solution made of clean water and two-percent chlorine bleach.  Two to three capfuls of chlorine bleach to a bucket of water are recommended.  Wear gloves when disinfecting surfaces.
  • Do not attempt to repair floors until they are fully dry.  Dry wood floors as soon as possible by opening all doors and windows, which should prevent them from shrinking and deforming.  Once dry, buckled floors may be drawn back into place with nails, and planing and sanding may remove humps.
  •  Delaminated plywood; layers of plywood wood separated, should be replaced.
  • Remove drawers and clean all mud and dirt from wooden furniture.  Be sure to dry furniture slowly and indoors to prevent the sun from warping it.
  • If possible, simply air-dry family treasures such as books, photographs or paintings. If wet books, documents, photographs or textiles cannot be air-dried within 48 hours, freeze them if you have a freezer that is large enough.  If not, keep them as cool as possible until air-drying is possible.
  • Washers, dryers and furnaces can usually be cleaned and tested by qualified electricians.  Replacing expensive appliances after a flood is usually not necessary.
  • Mattresses, carpets, carpet padding, rugs, stuffed furniture and upholstered furniture should be discarded.  In most cases these items are so saturated with dirt and mold development that cleaning attempts are futile.
  • To deal with leaking home fuel tanks in flooded basements:
    • Remove the fuel oil from the surface of the water and place it in a container for disposal.
    • The water that is under the product can be directed to the nearest waterway.
    • After pumping your basement, try to remove and place in a container any remaining fuel oil product.
    • Stop the leak in the tank.
  • If your private groundwater well has been flooded, DO Not Drink the Water!
    • Follow specific disinfection instructions to temporarily address the problem.
    • You will need a bucket, garden hose, funnel and chlorinating compound, which is sold in liquid and granular form at grocery, home-improvement stores and pool equipment stores.
    • The process is typically called “Shocking the Well”.
    • The well, well pump and piping system are sanitized.
    • Have the water tested before drinking the water.  Total Coliform, Total Aerobic Plate Count, Nitrates / Nitrites which are associated with fertilizers, OA1 & OA2 which are tests for petroleum based products.