After a Flood: Structural Integrity

Structural damage to a house after a flood may be subtle or extensive. Often, the full consequences will become fully apparent only later on. However, structural damage can be just as significant—if not more so—than the more immediate results of flooding. Structural issues are generally the aftermath of specific damaging forces present during and after a flood. Some of these  include:

  • Hydrostatic pressure. Generally, this refers to the weight of floodwater contained inside a structure. Pressure exerted by the weight of thousands of gallons of water trapped inside a house can damage interior and exterior walls, fracture the foundation and seep into and deteriorate solid building materials like brick and concrete.
  • Hydrodynamic pressure. This refers to the current of moving floodwater around and inside a house. Water moving just 10 mph exerts as much pressure on a house structure as a 275 mph wind. Moving water may separate walls at joints, pull up flooring and even dislodge the house from its foundation.
  • Buoyant pressure. In floodwater just two feet deep, a wood-frame house may readily float. A house can be detached and lifted up off its foundation by buoyant forces, causing irreparable damage.

After a flood, a visual inspection may reveal telltale signs of water-related  damage to structural integrity including:

  • House is leaning or tilting.
  • Portions of the house have separated from the rest of the structure.
  • House has shifted off its foundation.
  • Roof is sagging or deformed in some way.
  • Segments of roof are missing after a flood.
  • Internal roof structure inside the attic is damaged.
  • Exterior walls bowing or otherwise distorted.
  • Exterior wall is no longer secured to the foundation after a flood.
  • Noticeable gaps in frames of exterior doors and windows.
  • Doors and windows are jammed by structural shifting and won’t open.
  • Ceilings and/or floors inside the house are sagging or feel spongy.
  • Interior ceilings and/or walls have collapsed.
  • Basement walls are cracked or have collapsed inward or been deformed outward.
  • Basement beams or posts supporting the first floor have cracked or are detached from the floor above. 

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