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Post-flood Hazards To Watch Out For In Your Home

Tuesday, April 10th, 2018

flood hazardsCarpet mold after flooding is just one of the issues that confronts a homeowner as the water recedes. Once-familiar surroundings can seem like an alien environment following major water damage. Before you’ve even come to grips with what’s already happened, you have to make decisions about what needs to be done next.

Not so fast. A flooded home is a source of hazards you need to be aware of. Before you enter the house and spend time on the premises, keep in mind these ongoing safety issues.

Utility Issues
Make sure power is turned off at the main electrical panel before you enter any wet areas of the home. If accessing the panel is unsafe due to residual water, leave the house and call an electrician. Natural gas lines may have ruptured as appliances were shifted by floodwater, posing fire or explosion hazard. Turn the gas off at the meter before entering the house.

Toxic Hazards
Outdoor floodwater is contaminated by raw sewage, pesticides, fuel and other substances. Communicable bacteria like E. Coli commonly infects floodwater, too. Avoid contact with bare skin and wash thoroughly before handling food or eating. Residue such as mud left behind is also tainted.

Air inside a flooded house may be hazardous. Within 48 hours after exposure to water, toxic mold growth is triggered, releasing airborne spores that may cause severe allergic response or illness when inhaled. Carpeting and padding are highly absorbent so carpet mold after flooding is a virtual certainty. Because toxic water may have inundated HVAC ductwork, the system should be inspected and cleaned if necessary before operating the A/C or furnace.

Structural Danger
Water-saturated drywall is heavy and may collapse under its weight without warning. Stay away from bulging walls or sagging ceilings. Buckled flooring may cause trip and fall hazards. The home’s foundation may be compromised due to severe flooding, as well. Tilting walls or a shifting roof are signs that could indicate a potential structural collapse.

Whether its carpet mold after flooding or structural dangers caused by water damage, Rytech professionals are ready to respond.

Beginning To Recover From A Flooded Home

Tuesday, December 19th, 2017

flood damageHow do you recover from a flooded home? One step at a time. At this point, the task before you might seem overwhelming: flooded rooms, soggy possessions and related issues like mold contamination. So, maybe the very first step to is to take a deep breath and collect yourself. Realize that professional water damage experts as well as your homeowner’s insurance agent have seen it all and are experienced to help you successfully recover from a flooded home with proven methods and a predictable time frame.

Now that you’re focused, here are some suggestions to begin the recovery process:

  • Call your insurer. You want to establish your losses and begin the claim process ASAP. If flooding is widespread in your area and many homeowners are filing claims, the sooner you get in line, the better.
  • Contact water damage recovery services. If the damage extends beyond minor pooling water on the floor of a single room, you’ll probably need professional help to recover. Your homeowner’s insurance may well require it and provide recommendations. Because water damage is an active process that continues to develop even after the flooding event is over, rapid intervention with proper techniques and equipment is critical to minimizing damage.
  • Take photos now. Before beginning any clean-up or removing items from the house, document the condition of every room as well as all water-damaged possessions with a digital camera.
  • Start ventilating. Open windows and, if electricity is safely restored, run fans. Flushing the house with outdoor air is important to prevent secondary damage caused by high indoor humidity after a flood.
  • Identify and discard unwanted items. Any contents of the home affected by water that you don’t wish to retain or attempt to restore can be removed from the house without delay. This could include water-saturated bedding, mattresses, pillows, and upholstered furniture. Also food, medicine, cosmetics and other personal items that have been in contact with flood water should be discarded due to contamination hazard.

 

Home Repairs After A Flood – What To Expect

Thursday, July 27th, 2017

flood-damaged houseThe extent of necessary home repairs after a flood can seem overwhelming. Because of the diversity of expertise required for effective flood recovery—not to mention safety factors that pose real hazards to the inexperienced—most home repairs after a flood are not a do-it-yourself project. Professionals in water damage recovery and mold remediation, as well as qualified local contractors for structural issues, form the necessary team to achieve restoration after major flooding. To remove some of the X-factors, here are critical repair issues you can expect after a flood.

Ceilings, walls and floors. Sagging, saturated ceilings should be punctured and drained, then replaced. Wallboard that has been water-soaked typically disintegrates, requiring new material. Affected walls need to be opened up and drained. Wet insulation inside walls usually must be discarded. Vinyl or linoleum flooring installed over wood sub-flooring may need to be taken up in order to dry the floor.

Structural issues. While concrete block usually dries well, the foundation of the house may be affected by flooding. Water is very heavy and a flooded basement often imposes damage on concrete foundation and basement walls. Also, a wet basement generally requires professional drying techniques to fully eliminate residual moisture that will trigger mold contamination.

Electrical matters. Water and electricity don’t mix. Electrical system components contacted by water including the main electrical panel, wiring and individual outlets will require, at minimum, inspection by a professional electrician. While modern plastic-covered wiring can withstand exposure to water, many other elements of the electrical system will probably require replacement.

HVAC systems. If your gas furnace was contacted by water, it must be inspected by an HVAC professional before being turned on again. Indoor air conditioning components including the blower in the air handler should also be checked before electricity is restored to the unit. Flooded HVAC ductwork can retain moisture as well as wet mud and silt. Draining and cleaning ducts is necessary to prevent mold growth and deterioration.

 

Cleaning Up After A Flood Doesn’t Have To Be Overwhelming

Thursday, April 27th, 2017

flood cleanupIs cleaning up after a flood doable for the do-it-yourselfer? Depends on the water source and the volume. Clean water leaking directly from supply pipes or common indoor fixtures and appliances is classified as Category 1. Common examples include ruptured hoses connected to the rear of a washing machine, a leaking water heater tank or water from other supply lines such as a dishwasher or a refrigerator ice maker.

The deciding factor in cleaning up after a flood yourself is how quickly you detect leakage and shut off the source of water. If you act fast and Category 1 water is limited to the floor of a single room, cleanup is feasible. However, if water has spread into additional rooms, saturated drywall or migrated down through ceilings into lower levels of the house—or if more than 8 hours elapsed before the leakage was discovered—seek professional water damage recovery services. In these cases, advanced drying techniques and preventive measures to inhibit toxic mold growth are required.

Here’s how to handle cleanup of smaller Category 1 cases yourself:

  • If necessary to stop leakage, turn off water to the house at the main shutoff valve.
  • Make sure a wet room is safe by shutting off electricity to the room at the circuit breaker panel.
  • Get any saturated throw rugs, cushions or other absorbent materials out of the house.
  • Water pooled on hard flooring can be mopped up or soaked up with towels. If the room opens to the outdoors, you may use a floor squeegee or wide broom to push pooled water out an exterior door.
  • If installed carpet is wet and you have a wet/dry vacuum (or opt to rent one) extract as much water as possible and allow the carpet to air dry with adequate ventilation.
  • High indoor humidity after flooding spreads and causes secondary damage. Ventilate the house by opening windows and running fans. If temperatures permit, running the central A/C also helps lower indoor humidity.

For professional advice and service cleaning up after a flood, contact the water damage experts at Rytech, Inc.

 

Flood Damage: Protect Yourself In Advance

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017

flood damageIs flood protection something you needn’t worry about because you don’t happen to live on a coastline or near a river? Not according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. FEMA reports that flooding from one source or another can happen virtually anywhere in the country. No state or locale is 100 percent immune to the possibility of flood damage. Maps are available from FEMA that depict your potential flood risk including estimates of how high the water level could potentially rise. With that information you can plan safeguards appropriate to your specific area. However, wherever you may live, these general flood protection guidelines can be applied to reduce the potential and extent of water damage due to flooding.

  • Check the gradient of your property. Is the landscape graded to divert water away from the house? When the foundation of the house is the low point on the lot, flood water flows toward it, greatly increasing the potential that damaging water will enter the house. Ask a landscape contractor about grading to divert water away.
  • Install a sewer backflow valve. When localized flooding strikes, the municipal sewer system is often swamped by water. This excess pressure backs up through residential sewer pipes and floods the interior of homes with toxic raw sewage. A sewer backflow valve automatically diverts sewage reflux out a port installed in the sewer line so it doesn’t enter the house.
  • Raise mechanical systems. Basements typically accumulate deep standing water in a flood. If you have HVAC equipment, water heater, electrical panels and other critical systems installed in your basement, consider having these permanently raised to a level high enough to avoid potential contact with flood water.
  • Look into flood insurance. Standard homeowner’s insurance provides zero coverage for flood damage. To protect yourself against devastating losses, evaluate your risk and consider affordable flood coverage provided by the federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). It’s sold and administered by local private insurance agents.

For more about what you can do to increase flood protection in your home, ask the water damage professionals at Rytech, Inc.

Drying Out After The Storm

Thursday, March 9th, 2017

flooded neighborhoodDrying a water damaged space after a storm may seem like a haphazard process, particularly if the home has been affected by substantial flood water. Actually, it’s an established, well-researched science that is continuously being refined with new techniques and technology. That’s why one of your first tasks should be contacting a water damage recovery professional to respond to the scene, ASAP. In the meantime, however, you can initiate the process of drying a water damaged space yourself by following a few guidelines in a very specific sequence:

First, Reduce Humidity

Concentrated humidity trapped inside a water-damaged structure rapidly infiltrates and damages other areas of the house that were not actually contacted by flood water. Contain the spread of secondary damage by thoroughly ventilating the premises. Open all exterior doors and windows. Utilize fans to keep air moving through the house and run portable dehumidifiers if you have access to them.

Move Indoor Water Out

Turn off electrical power to affected areas of the house. Don’t wade into standing water. Where water is pooled on hard surface floors, push it out of the door with a floor squeegee or broom. If the basement is flooded, leave that to the professionals.

Relocate Mud

If the flood left behind deposits of wet mud indoors, it should be considered contaminated with toxins. Wear a mask and gloves and shovel out as much mud as you can, depositing it in a identified pile outside, well removed from the house.

Sort Water-Damaged Items

Identify stuff you want to save/recover versus that which must be discarded. Pull the discards outdoors ASAP to reduce the amount of waterlogged material indoors. Carpeting soaked by floodwater should be considered contaminated and removed, as well as wet mattresses, cushions and other absorbent items. Take photographs of all damaged items you don’t intend to retain for the insurance record. Relocate things you plan to save to a dry place such as an upper level of the house or a sheltered secure area like the garage.

 

Flood Waters Damaged Your Home? Cleanup Delays Can Be Costly – Don’t Wait to Get Help!

Thursday, February 23rd, 2017

flooded homePost-flood restoration is a time-critical imperative. That’s because water damage to a structure is an ongoing process that continues unabated until specific, scientifically-proven methods are employed to stop it. It’s been observed that water inundation from a flood or other source is often more damaging than a fire inside the house. Once a fire is out, the damaging process is over and done. However, left untreated, water damage may continue long after the flood that caused it has receded.

Here are just a few reasons why arranging for professional post-flood restoration should be top priority as soon as the house is safe to enter.

Your house isn’t waterproof. Water isn’t called “the universal solvent” for nothing. Few building materials incorporated in the typical home permanently resist water. As time passes, water will inexorably soak into and degrade most primary building materials including wallboard, wooden structural components, flooring and even concrete. If professional remediation techniques are delayed, removal and replacement of many materials will eventually be the only option.

Water migration is 24/7. As hours elapse after a flood event, water continues to flow, drip and seep into every recess in the house, often traveling to parts of the structure that weren’t even affected by the initial inundation. As water penetrates deeply into a house, successful restoration becomes increasingly complex.

Wood rots and metal corrodes and rusts. Once triggered by prolonged exposure to water, these time-related processes can be problematic to stop. Wood rot spreads inexorably through a structure and rust and corrosion ruins wiring and other electrical components as well as metal systems such as HVAC ductwork. Drying these components ASAP after exposure to flood water is critical.

Mold won’t wait. Dormant mold spores are activated within 24 to 48 hours following exposure to moisture. When contacted by water, spores shift from an inert state into active growing mold that releases airborne reproductive spores. Mold contamination rapidly spreads throughout the house. Effective mold remediation techniques must be applied side-by-side with professional flood restoration.

For immediate, comprehensive information about post-flood restoration, don’t wait to contact the professionals at Rytech, Inc.

Why Raw Sewage Cleanup is Not a DIY Project

Thursday, February 16th, 2017

raw sewage dangerRaw sewage cleanup imposes all the complications of indoor water damage but adds substantial serious health hazards, as well. Sewage backflow into your house from a number of causes including a blockage in your own sewage line or a widespread problem in the municipal sewer system such as inundation due to flood water. Once your home has been contaminated, raw sewage cleanup is a specialized process that doesn’t belong in the DIY category. Here are some reasons why it’s a job for professionals with the knowledge, training and specialized equipment to do the job competently and completely.

  • Sewage is a toxic biohazard. Raw sewage contains harmful bacteria including fecal coliform and E.coli, viruses and any and all other toxic substances including chemicals and poisons that may have gone into the municipal sewer system. Crews that specialize in raw sewage clean-up often look like any other toxic clean-up professional, fully clothed in resistant protective garb including eye shields and high-quality breathing protection designed specifically for the purpose. A pair of overalls and a dust mask from the hardware store are not sufficient equipment to ensure personal safety.
  • Contamination is on the move. During clean-up, a major concern is limiting the spread of contamination. Specific precautions are required to prevent toxins present in sewage from migrating to other areas of the house, including sealing off the contaminated area and fully ventilating to the outdoors.
  • Deep decontamination techniques are required. Just as water penetrates to the deepest recesses in a house, sewage does, too, along with the pathogens it contains. Simply mopping up or disinfecting surface evidence of raw sewage is not effective cleanup.
  • DIY disinfectants may not be sufficient. The do-it-yourself disinfectant of choice—household bleach—may not always be the most effective option against infectious microorganisms found in sewage and/or may not provide lasting disinfection potency.
  • Odor matters, too. The pungent, penetrating odor of raw sewage is difficult to clear from any enclosed structure. Special odor absorbents and high-volume ventilation equipment are usually required.

For professional raw sewage cleanup with state-of-the-art methods, contact Rytech, Inc.

Three Ways to Avoid Scams After a Flood

Tuesday, January 10th, 2017

scam alertKnowing how to avoid scams after a flood is critical. Just as flooding spreads water damage far and wide, it also brings out unqualified and often unethical firms claiming to be water damage experts. These outfits see your crisis as an opportunity for fast profit. They take advantage of the often disorganized state of regulation enforcement in municipalities after a damaging flood to hard-sell services they aren’t qualified to properly perform and often leave unfinished. Once they take your money and run, the chances of recovering any amount is highly unlikely and the possibility of further expenses to correct or complete shoddy work is very probable.

Your best protection to avoid scams after a flood is information. First, ask your insurance company for advice about local services. In addition, here are three ways to help you sort out the professionals from the imposters when it comes to water damage recovery services.

  • Don’t deal with walk-ups. Reputable, professional water damage recovery services don’t solicit door-to-door. Be very skeptical of anyone who walks up to a flood-damaged house and tries to sell you services on the spot. For the unscrupulous and unqualified, it’s their only way to target the next victim. For you it should be a major red flag.
  • Require proof of licensing. Anyone who calls themselves a “contractor” should be able to show a state-issued contractor’s license number and proof of required insurance coverage that protects you. Anyone who really isn’t a contractor won’t have a current contractor’s license and doesn’t invest in insurance. In most states, their status can also be verified online at the state license board or department of consumer affairs website.
  • A carpet cleaner is not a water damage recovery expert. Simply because an individual claims expertise in some distantly related area, such as painting, carpentry, etc., doesn’t qualify them to do water damage recovery. This field is a recognized specialty that requires training and certification in industry-standard techniques as well as substantial investment in specialized equipment and technology.

For more advice to avoid scams after a flood, contact the established experienced professionals at Rytech, Inc.

What Every Homeowner Should Know about Flood Insurance and Coverage

Tuesday, November 8th, 2016

flood insuranceHow much flood insurance and coverage can you count on to ensure compensation after flood-related damages occur? If you’re thinking about your homeowner’s insurance policy, the answer is none. No class of flooding is covered under standard homeowner’s insurance. It doesn’t matter where you live nor what the source of flood water may be. “Flooding” can mean anything from an overflowing creek to a hurricane storm surge. Whatever the case, it’s not covered under homeowner’s insurance.

Flood insurance and coverage for water damage related to a flood must be purchased as an entirely separate policy offered by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Although these policies are provided by the federal government, they’re normally purchased through and administered by local private insurance agents that often offer other insurance including homeowner’s policies.

For individuals who live in federal flood zones designated as high risk and have a mortgage on their house, purchasing NFIP flood insurance isn’t merely an option — under the law, it’s mandatory. Even in areas rated moderate or low risk, private lenders may still require you to purchase flood insurance under the terms of the mortgage according to their standard practices.

Generally speaking, coverage provided by NFIP insurance for homeowners includes:

  • The home structure and foundation including all electrical and plumbing systems and HVAC equipment. Major appliances like refrigerators and dishwashers are also covered, as are permanent carpeting and paneling, cabinets and bookcases.
  • Personal possessions are covered per actual cash value. These include furniture, clothes and household electronics, and small appliances like window A/C units, microwaves and washers and dryers. Some specific valuables like original art objects, furs, and other items up to $2,500 may also be covered.

Two caveats: NFIP policies enforce a 30-day waiting period before coverage begins. So don’t wait until the weather forecast predicts flood conditions to purchase it. Also, don’t expect Federal Disaster Assistance to substitute for flood insurance. Disaster assistance is not insurance compensation; it’s a loan that must be repaid with interest.

The water damage experts at Rytech, Inc. are available to answer all your questions about federal flood insurance and coverage.