If your Wilmington home or business has flooded, you need to take fast action.
Of course you need somewhere to live or to get your business up and running again quickly, but you must also act to protect your property and its occupants from the consequences of water damage and avoid costly repairs.
Here are the steps you need to take in order to clean up water damage safely.
1) Contact your insurance provider immediately
If your insurance policy protects you against flood or other water damage, in general you only have 60 days to send in a proof of loss form.
Informing your insurers that you’ve experienced a flood will set your claim in motion as quickly as possible. Be sure to find out what documentary evidence you need for your claim.
In general, however, it’s good practice to document the values of every damaged item and take as many photos as possible before, during and after cleanup.
2) Make sure the building is safe before entering
Before entering your property to assess the damage, you should consider if it’s definitely safe to do so.
When assessing the scene, you must look for structural, electrical or other hazards. Strong winds and flood waters can down power lines, while rushing water can cause breaks in gas mains. So, if you smell gas or see any dangling electrical wires, call the utility companies (or police or fire department).
Likewise, you should call a building inspector if you see any structural damage to the outside of the house, such as cracks or a shifting of the foundation, or any damage caused by a falling tree.
3) Protect yourself from toxic substances
Once you’re reasonably sure that the property is structurally sound and safe to enter, you must ensure that you’re protected from what you may find inside.
To avoid allergic reactions and other health problems, you should always wear protective clothing before re-entering a water-damaged property. If you have a weak or compromised immune system, you shouldn’t enter a property at all until the cleaning is complete
Ideally, you should wear a mask, goggles and tight-fitting rubber gloves to protect your hands and face and avoid breathing in mold spores and toxic fumes. You should also wear clothing that covers your arms and legs.
Once inside the property, you must first assess and document the damage so you can file your insurance claim.
4) Pump out any standing water and remove debris
Standing water must be removed quickly because it’s dangerous and can make you vulnerable to infectious diseases, chemical hazards and injuries.
A wet-dry vacuum can remove any shallow water, but a submersible pump is needed to remove deep water.
You will also need to remove any contaminated debris brought in by the floodwater. When a property floods, all sorts of material from drains, ditches and sewer lines can be dragged inside. Then, mud and many other toxic substances get left behind once the water recedes.
You can remove any wet silt and debris from your home using shovels or rakes – but you have to dispose of the waste correctly.
5) Use fans and dehumidifiers to dry out your home
Mold will grow in a flood-damaged property within 24 hours, with colonies visible within two days.
To combat this, the first step is to air out your house. The best way is to get industrial fans and dehumidifiers into your property to circulate the air and eliminate excess moisture.
If you don’t have access to those, you should switch on your air conditioner and all of your fans and exhaust the air toward open windows and doors.
6) Remove sodden drywall, flooring and upholstery
If water damage is widespread, you’ll likely have to dispose of affected paneling, drywall and insulation. These are porous and are therefore particularly vulnerable to water damage.
Other materials, such as ceramic tile, sheet vinyl, laminate and solid wood floors should also be removed because moisture and silt collects underneath them, even if they appear to be dry.
Carpets and upholstery, if not cleaned and dried within 24 to 48 hours of the flood, must also be discarded to prevent mold growth.
Metal, glass and other non-porous materials, however, can be cleaned with water and detergent and sanitized with a bleach and water solution to remove any mold.
When discarding any water-damaged items, also remember to document it before disposing of it.
7) Monitor your property’s moisture levels constantly
To understand whether your property – or certain elements of it – are safe, you need equipment that can measure moisture levels.
While airing out the building, a humidity meter will tell you if the conditions are still encouraging or, better still, inhibiting the growth of mold. Ideally, you want a humidity level of between 30 and 50 per cent.
A moisture meter, meanwhile, can help you detect invisible dampness. Any moisture reading above 16 per cent in floors, walls and furniture means they are ideal for mold and bacterial growth.
8) Hire a water damage restoration company
If this whole process sounds overwhelming, it might be wise to hire a water damage restoration company.
These experts can be at your property quickly and have the knowhow to start the water damage restoration process without any costly delays.
Pride Restoration of NC, Inc., your flood cleanup experts in Wilmington NC
We offer 24/7 emergency damage restoration services to property owners in the Wilmington area. Our expert team of certified technicians have both the knowledge and the professional equipment necessary to deal with any water damage scenario.
Call us on (910) 302-3155 to find out how we can help you.