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Seven Home Safety Tips for After a Flood

Tuesday, April 13th, 2021
after a flood

If flooding strikes your home, you have a lot to think about and deal with after the water stops. One of the things that should be a top priority, however, is safety. Every year, people who survive an initial flood event are injured or sometimes killed by hazards present in the aftermath. To help reduce those statistics, here are seven post-flood safety tips to keep in mind 

  • Don’t go home until it’s safe. If you were ordered to evacuate before the flood, don’t return to the house until an all-clear has been issued by local authorities.
  • Be aware of electrical hazards. Electrocution is among the most common causes of fatalities after a flood. Even if utility power is off, it may be restored at any time without warning. If utility power is still on, don’t enter flooded rooms inside the house until electricity is shut off at the main electrical panel. If the panel is located in a flooded area of the house, call an electrician to disconnect the electricity outside.
  • Ventilate the premises. If the house has been closed up during flooding, open doors and windows to allow fresh air to circulate for at least an hour before spending extended time inside. 
  • Trust your nose. If you notice the pungent odor of natural gas, leave the house immediately and call the gas company to turn it off at the main valve.
  • Watch out for structural hazards. Saturated drywall is structurally unsound and may collapse suddenly. Stay out of rooms where ceilings are sagging and stand clear of walls that appear to be soaked and/or deformed.  
  • Avoid direct contact with water. Outdoor floodwater from sources such as an overflowing river or flash flood may contain toxins such as chemicals and raw sewage. Water from an indoor source like a ruptured pipe is considered contaminated if it has been present for more than 48 hours.  
  • Wear protective gear. Basic attire inside a house after flooding includes eye protection (goggles), face mask rated N95 or higher, rubber gloves, and waterproof boots. A hard hat is also advisable if available.

How to Make Flood Cleanup Less Overwhelming

Tuesday, December 29th, 2020
flood cleanup

Flood cleanup after home water damage can be a daunting proposition. What to do first? What next? Minute by minute, water damage keeps getting worse if effective flood cleanup is delayed. Yet, pressure and uncertainty make decisive action difficult. An effective antidote to feeling overwhelmed by a crisis is to set priorities, make a list, and follow it. If water damage strikes, here are some suggestions to make flood cleanup less stressful and more efficient.

1. Shut off the source. If it’s a ruptured pipe or overflowing appliance, turn off the water to the house at the main shutoff valve. Call a plumber for emergency service if you can’t turn off the water. It’s a good idea to rehearse the process to shut off the water in advance.

2. Keep children and pets away from water.

3. Turn off electricity to affected areas. If standing water is present in certain areas, stay out of those rooms until electricity is shut off at the main circuit breaker panel. If the circuit breaker panel is in a wet area, call an electrician to do the job instead.   

4. Save the most valuable items first. If you can do so safely, access the most irreplaceable items, including jewelry, family heirlooms, photographs, important documents, cash, etc., and move to a dry area of the house, ASAP.

5. Get standing water out.  Mop up smaller pools. For larger, deeper water accumulation, use brooms, a floor squeegee, or other objects to push water out of the house through exterior doors. 

6. If weather permits, open windows and allow fresh air to continuously circulate during flood cleanup.

3 Reasons Flood Cleanup is Not a DIY Project

Tuesday, August 20th, 2019

So, you’re handy around the house. But what if the house is flooded?  The impulse to take immediate first-person action when faced with distressing water damage to your property and possessions is understandable. However, the fact is, a structure that has been inundated with water requires specific expertise and specialized equipment well beyond the scope of any household chore you’ve tackled before. The determined DIY approach has its place in many home projects, but a flooded house is not that place.  Here are three reasons why:

You’re At Risk

Any structure inundated with water is a danger zone. Hazards faced by water damage remediation professionals include:

  • Electrical danger. Until a qualified electrician has completely disconnected a flooded house from the power grid—including removing the electrical meter if necessary—the risk of electrocution is present.
  • Toxic water and air. Floodwater picks up dangerous substances as it spreads including raw sewage, chemicals and biological hazards.  Inside a flooded house, water is hazardous on contact and the air may be toxic to breathe. Water damage professionals typically wear OSHA-approved full-body protective garb including face masks or respirators, as well as eye protection in the initial stages of the job.
  • Structural hazards. Saturated building materials such as drywall become dangerously heavy and unstable. Structural components may collapse at any time without warning.
  • Vermin infestation. Snakes, rodents and stinging insects may occupy a flooded house and pose dangers.

You’re Not Equipped

Water damage remediation teams utilize professional equipment designed for the job, not all-purpose stuff from a local rental outlet. This includes high-volume air movers, powerful water extractors, and industrial-grade dehumidifiers as well as specialized monitoring technology to track and verify the progress of remediation.

You’re Too Slow

As long as moisture remains inside your house, damage continues to spread and secondary consequences such as mold contamination intensify by the hour. There’s no time for trial-and-error experiments or a casual do-it-yourself learning curve. Professional water damage remediation teams are on-duty 24/7/365 and arrive on the scene already up to speed: fully trained, experienced and equipped to intervene immediately and execute a proven, effective recovery plan, ASAP. 

Do Hardwood Floors Need to be Replaced After a Flood?

Thursday, August 15th, 2019

It’s a fact: sometimes a water-damaged hardwood floor may not be salvageable in any way that makes financial sense. Severity and duration of water exposure is a major factor. For example, a hardwood floor totally submerged in standing water after an event like an outdoor flood or hurricane storm surge probably requires replacement. However, some less-severe scenarios present better chances for successful restoration.

How Wet Is Too Wet?

Common hardwood types have a “safe” moisture content (MC) of less than 10%. If exposure to water increases the MC above 12%, dimensional changes begin to occur as flooring planks swell against each other and cup, buckle and warp. If only a few boards are affected by short-term water exposure, those boards may be individually replaced or sanded down to restore a flat, smooth surface. Widespread water exposure over a longer time frame greatly diminishes chances for restoration, however, particularly if professional treatment is delayed.

Mold Also Matters

Mold growth becomes a factor if standing water seeps through a hardwood floor into the plywood subfloor. Water-soaked plywood and dust beneath the flooring provide a favorable environment for hidden mold growth. While spot treatments can address very limited areas of contamination, the only way to access widespread mold contamination in the subfloor is removal and replacement of all flooring.

For the best chance of restoring a hardwood floor after water damage, here are some contributing factors:

  • Rapid removal of pooling water before it is absorbed. Hours and even minutes count. Quick response by water damage professionals and use of wet/dry vacuums and powerful water extractors is critical to pull moisture out of the floor, ASAP.
  • Wood floors affected by water should be thoroughly scrubbed and sanitized before air-drying to mitigate the potential for mold contamination.
  • Industrial dehumidifiers must be kept running 24 hours a day to reduce moisture content. High-volume air movers are also utilized to circulate air continuously and expedite drying.
  • Drying a hardwood floor is a slow, extended process. Moisture content readings of the wood must be taken at regular intervals to determine when the optimum moisture percentage is achieved.

Best Tools and Practices for Flood Damage Drying and Cleanup

Thursday, April 11th, 2019

Today, remediating flood damage and drying a structure is a formalized process driven by extensive research and sound scientific principles. The Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) has established criteria to classify types of water damage as well as compiled best practices to achieve effective, efficient results. The remediation process is implemented using industrial-grade equipment engineered specifically for professional water damage recovery. These standardized procedures and tools ensure consistent results that meet industry guidelines for successful remediation.

Water Damage Classification

The IICRC divides water damage incidents into three levels, depending on the source of the water:

  • Category 1: Clean water from a source such as a ruptured water supply pipe.
  • Category 2: Gray water – Water soapy or dirty from a washing machine overflow, leaking dishwasher, etc.
  • Category 3: Black water – Toxic water from a sewage backup, outdoor flooding or other contaminated source.

IICRC Best Practices and Tools

  • Verify the house is safe to enter.
  • Identify the source of water and stop the flow.
  • Start industrial-grade dehumidifiers and run continuously to prevent secondary water damage from high indoor humidity.
  • Perform baseline moisture measurements using moisture detectors, hygrometers, infrared cameras and other technology to establish extent of water infiltration.
  • Remove saturated furniture including mattresses, cushions and other absorbent materials from the house. Take steps to protect furniture and other objects still left inside.
  • Mop up or vacuum pooling water from hard surfaces.
  • Use high-volume directional air movers to accelerate drying of flooring, walls and ceiling.
  • If Category 1 water damage, utilize professional extraction equipment to remove water from carpeting and pad. For Category 2, remove pad and dispose before extracting water from carpet. For Category 3, dispose of both pad and carpeting.
  • Remove absorbent building materials that are saturated and cannot be dried, such as drywall and ceiling tiles.
  • Apply biocide to all wet surfaces to prevent microbial growth including mold.
  • Repeat moisture measurements at intervals to track drying process and determine when drying goals have been achieved.
  • Replace any saturated building materials with new material.
  • Clean and disinfect the area of the premise affected by water.

What Types of Belongings and Furniture Can Be Saved After a Flood?

Friday, February 8th, 2019

What belongings do you want to save after a flood? Most people would answer, “Everything.” Any home contains a range of valuable items, from appliances to expensive consumer items to cherished personal belongings. Most are vulnerable to water exposure.

In the wake of a damaging flood, certain items that can be reasonably saved or restored must be identified while others that are not salvageable should be discarded. Here are some guidelines for typical flooding scenarios:

Furniture

  • Solid wood furniture may be sanitized and refinished if necessary. Careful drying techniques may be needed to prevent warping, however.
  • Upholstered furniture might be worth salvaging if the piece is antique and highly valuable. However, in most cases, ordinary furniture with cushions or fabric that has absorbed tainted, toxic floodwater is usually not worth the expense of restoration and should be discarded.
  • Inexpensive wood veneer furniture is generally not salvageable as exposure to water usually triggers delamination.

Appliances

No appliances should be operated after a flood unless checked by a qualified technician first. Most units contain water-sensitive electronics and motors. Gas appliances utilize burners and other metallic components that are degraded by water contact. If flooding in the house exceeded more than a few inches in depth, the high cost of replacement parts and labor means many affected appliances aren’t good candidates for repair and should be replaced, instead.

Consumer Electronics

Water and electronics don’t mix. Critical circuit components may be damaged by water exposure and/or resultant corrosion. However, water damage remediation experts may recommend professional drying services where particularly expensive electronics can be treated in a humidity- and temperature-controlled environment to minimize damage.

Paper Valuables

  • Professional services to salvage water-damaged photographs including specialized freeze-drying techniques are available. Time is critical—action must taken ASAP following water exposure.
  • Important paper documents must be separated into individual pages and gently dried before damaging mold growth occurs. Soaked books must be blotted with absorbent inserts between pages and allowed to air-dry.
  • If floodwater was tainted by toxins such as raw sewage, restoration of absorbent paper items may not be advisable due to health issues.

Can Flooded Hardwood Floors Be Saved?

Thursday, June 7th, 2018

flooded hardwood floorNot all parts of a house are equal when it comes to recovery after a flood. Hardwood flooring presents its own set of specific challenges when affected by water damage. Successfully drying out a hardwood floor in place requires professional techniques and specialized equipment. Because wood is particularly prone to mold growth, rapid intervention to prevent mold contamination is also critical.

Moisture content of a hardwood floor in a dry environment varies from 6% to 12%. Following exposure to flooding, however, the moisture content may rise to 40% or more. Left alone, this high level may persist for weeks and even months, causing irreparable damage to a wood floor.

What Are The Options?

Simply plugging in a fan and attempting to air-dry the floor while hoping for the best isn’t a viable strategy. It’s a fact: In certain cases, hardwood flooring can’t be saved and must be removed. For the best chance of recovery, however, here are some of the techniques that may be applied by qualified water damage pros:

  • Water-soaked carpeting as well as all furniture must be moved from the room.
  • Utilizing a professional-grade extractor, standing water will be removed from the floor surface. After standing water is removed, as much residual moisture as possible will also be extracted from the porous surface of the wood.
  • The floor is scrubbed with a disinfecting cleaner to remove flood water residue, then dried with the extractor again.
  • An industrial strength dehumidifier set to the highest setting should run continuously in the affected room during recovery. Floor fans may also be utilized to move air.
  • A professional panel drying system may be adhered to the floor to inject dehumidified air directly into the flooring material and accelerate drying.
  • Moisture measurements must be made at predetermined intervals to chart the progress of drying and determine when goals have been met.

An experienced water damage remediation specialist can assist in making an informed decision to salvage a hardwood floor or to replace it.

3 Tips For Cleaning Up After A Flood In Your Home

Thursday, March 15th, 2018

flood cleanupCleaning up after a flood probably isn’t a job you’ll want to tackle all by yourself. Comprehensive recovery usually requires the services of water damage professionals. In the immediate aftermath however, there are a few steps you can take to begin damage control ASAP. Before you start, make sure the house is safe to enter. Be aware of electrical hazards in the wet indoor environment as well as potential collapse of saturated walls and ceilings. Unless the source of water is a ruptured indoor supply line, assume floodwater is contaminated and wear protective clothing to avoid direct contact.

Cleanup tips

To initiate the process of cleaning up after a flood here are three tips:

  1. Remove standing water. Where residual water is pooled on hard surface floors, you may be able to push it out an exterior door, if one is nearby. If you don’t have a floor squeegee, a push broom can be useful to direct water outside. Removing standing water as soon as possible isn’t likely to undo damage already done. However, it may limit further spread of water into other areas of the house.
  2. Reduce humidity. Open windows and, if possible, run fans to get air moving. Run the air conditioner if it’s still functional as well. If you have a dehumidifier or can rent one, put it into use as soon as possible. Extremely high indoor humidity is an inevitable side-effect of flooding and a major cause of secondary damage, even in areas of the home that were not affected by the initial flood.
  3. Move out saturated stuff. Get soaked items like mattresses, cushions and throw rugs out of the house without delay. These highly absorbent items will never dry indoors and, if the floodwater came from any source other than a broken pipe, they are permanently contaminated and will have to be discarded, anyway. Most saturated materials also become sources of mold growth within just 48 hours after exposure to water, so getting them outdoors sooner rather than later is helpful.

Household Flooding – Why Fans And A Dehumidifier Are Not Enough For Drying Out

Tuesday, February 27th, 2018

flooded homeIf your home was flooded, whether it was due to a recent storm or a broken pipe, you’ll want to make sure that you begin drying any water damaged spaces as quickly as possible. However, basic fans and dehumidifiers aren’t going to be enough. When it comes to drying a water damaged space effectively, you’re going to want to hire a professional water damage restoration service. The following are a few reasons why you’ll want to leave it to a professional:

  • You may need to remove water – Your fans and dehumidifier aren’t going to be nearly enough to remove standing water. You’ll want to remove any water that’s present as quickly as possible — the longer it sits, the more likely it is to cause damage. Not only can a professional remove standing water quickly, they can do so safely. There’s an inherent risk in removing standing water if you’re not trained to do so — not only can standing water present a health risk, it can present a safety risk if the power isn’t shut off properly.
  • You’ll want to prevent mold growth – If your floors and walls aren’t dried as quickly as possible, mold may begin to grow and spread throughout your home. Basic fans and dehumidifiers may be able to dry out water damaged areas eventually, but it may be too late by the time they are able to do so.
  • You may be able to save water damaged items – Even if there’s standing water, your flooring, walls, furniture and other possessions may still be saved if they are dried out as quickly as possible. To ensure that they dry fast, industrial drying equipment that only water restoration services have access to will need to be used.

While fans and dehumidifiers can help with drying a water damaged space, they won’t be able to do so as quickly as professional equipment. Because time is of the essence if you want to save your furniture, flooring, walls and other possessions, you’ll want to hire a professional.

Cleaning Up A Flooded Home – When To Get Help

Thursday, December 7th, 2017

flooded home helpIf you’re faced with cleaning up a flooded home, should you go it alone or call in professional help? The do-it-yourself approach may be the natural first response. After all, it’s your house and possessions, so the urgency to take control with personal action can feel overwhelming.

However, cleaning up a flooded home involves multiple specialties that are seldom part of the typical homeowner’s skill set. Moreover, water damage is a dynamic event that continuous to worsen as hours elapse. Because you can’t afford putting off the decision about what to do indefinitely, here are some guidelines to make the right call ASAP:

  • Did you have to leave the house? This one’s easy: If flooding was severe enough that evacuating all or part of the house was necessary, you need professional water damage recovery to get your home and your life back.
  • Is water limited to just one room? If water is pooled on a hard-surface floor of a single room, you may be able to mop or wet-vacuum the water yourself, then dry residual dampness with fans.
  • How is the water classified? Class 1 is “clean” water, such as inundation from a ruptured household water supply line. Water from an overflowing toilet or other appliance (Class 2) is considered tainted while Class 3 water—outdoor floodwater or indoor sewage backup—is officially a toxic biohazard. Due to health threats, both Class 2 and Class 3 cleanup should only be handled by qualified water damage specialists.
  • Where did the water spread? Water that has seeped into wall spaces between rooms, soaked into drywall or trickled from an upper level to a lower floor through the ceiling always requires professional intervention. Structural damage and toxic mold growth in these inaccessible areas is inevitable.
  • Do you really have time for this? For the homeowner, a flood crisis imposes many diverse and urgent issues beyond cleanup. Turning the complex process of water damage recovery over to skilled, experienced experts helps you keep priorities in order.

The water damage experts at Rytech are standing by 24/7 with professional services for cleaning up a flooded home.