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Home Flood Cleanup: Caring for Your Belongings

Thursday, February 6th, 2020
home flood cleanup

One of the priorities of home flood cleanup is rescuing valuables and other family belongings from the ravages of exposure to water. Flooding from any source—exterior or interior—can actually pose a greater threat to possessions than fire damage in many cases. It’s vital to take steps as soon as it’s safely possible to initiate recovery of items contacted by water.

Caveat: If flooding resulted from a sewage backup, any belongings contacted by it must be considered toxic and contaminated. Qualified water damage professionals on the scene for home flood cleanup can determine whether items are safe to work with.

  • Conduct triage. Determine which items are most valuable to you as well as those most likely to be salvageable. Sentimental value often takes precedence over dollar value when it comes to photographs, family heirlooms, etc. Where affected possessions have high value only in economic terms—such as consumer electronics—decide whether the cost of repairing those items is worth it.  
  • Move identified items away from wet areas. Open windows and circulate air to exhaust damaging high humidity. Run the HVAC fan if the system has been approved to operate. If the entire home was flooded, relocate items to a sheltered, secure location elsewhere.
  • Clean and dry. Gently rinse affected photos with clean water. Dry by placing on a plastic screen to allow air circulation on both sides, or by hanging from a line with clothespins at the corners. Remove water-soaked photos from photo albums or frames, then rinse and air-dry.  To preserve valuable books affected by water, insert absorbent paper towels between wet pages.  
  • Freeze-dry if necessary. Items like books, photographs, documents or textiles that can’t be cleaned and dried within 48 hours should be placed in plastic bags, then frozen in a freezer for later treatment. This stops mold from forming and ruining the items.
  • Don’t power up electronics. Some electronic devices like computers and video cameras may be successfully restored after water exposure. However, powering up a wet unit may make that impossible. Data can also be retrieved from wet hard drives. Numerous companies offer this specialized professional service.

Cleaning Basement Floors After Water Damage

Thursday, January 23rd, 2020
water damage cleanup

Because water naturally finds its way to the lowest point inside a home, basement water damage is a frequent occurrence. Water inundation into a basement can result from household plumbing leaks, sewage backups and infiltration of ground water in the soil.

Basement water damage clean-up is a multi-stage project. If the basement is simply wet, DIY clean-up is doable.  However, if deeper standing water is present—or if the source is toxic—it’s best to contact water damage professionals.

First, Be Safe

Wet basements can be dangerous if electrical wiring or outlets have been contacted by water. Before entering a wet or flooded basement, have an electrician verify that it’s safe.

Next, determine the source of the water. Sewage backups often affect basement drains first. Raw sewage presents a serious toxic contamination hazard. Avoid any contact with the water and stay out of the basement to avoid inhaling fumes. Contact professional water damage experts to handle toxic clean-up. 

Cleaning Up

If the basement environment is safe to enter here are some suggestions for cleaning basement floors:

  • If pooling water is less than an inch deep, you may use a wet/dry vacuum or a portable sump pump to extract water from the basement. Mop up lesser amounts of residual water.
  • Open windows and run fans and a dehumidifier to help dry out the basement.  
  • Remove any basement carpeting or other absorbent materials that have been saturated. These will usually have to be discarded as cleaning and disinfection isn’t practical.
  • Assuming that basement floor drains are present and functional, wash away any residue with a hose or other water source. Then scrub the floor using a floor broom and a mixture of soapy warm water.  Rinse thoroughly.  
  • Disinfection is a critical part of basement water damage cleanup. Dormant mold spores common in basements are activated by moisture. In less than 48 hours, spores begin producing active growing mold that eventually spreads contamination throughout the house. Scrub the floor with a mixture of chlorine bleach and water to kill spores, then rinse again.
  • Continue operating fans and ventilating the basement until it is dry.