Repairing Flood Damage

Weather conditions in Charleston and the Lowcountry often put homes and businesses at severe risk for flooding, water damage, and subsequent mold contamination. After a major weather event (such as a hurricane or tropical storm) which has caused local flooding or exposed your home to significant rainfall and water intrusion, one of your first priorities should be to inspect your property for potential mold or sewage contamination. It goes without saying that either mold and sewage damage in your home or business can be extremely dangerous for your own personal health, as well as the health of your family or employees/co-workers, and there are a number of steps you can take immediately (especially with mold) to begin to repair flood damage and prevent mold spores from growing.

First Step: Safe Inspection

Repair Flood DamageIf you have evacuated or are returning home after major rainfall or flooding has occurred in your area, inspect as much of your home as possible from its exterior to make sure that there is no standing water in any of your rooms or your basement. If you see water – even a small amount – immediately turn off your electrical power. If there is standing water near your primary power switch, you should contact an electrician and have them make sure that it is properly turned off. Attempting to do this yourself, or wading into water that has any sort of close proximity to live electricity, can be life-threatening. Don’t take any chances.

Once you have ensured that you and your property are safe from an electrical hazard, you can reenter your home. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) you should automatically assume that your home has sustained some sort of mold damage if you have been gone for several days. This is even more likely if you closed or boarded your home up. Keeping this in mind, open as many doors and windows as possible and then exit your home. Wait outside for approximately 30-45 minutes before you begin to do anything further.

 

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Disaster Plus ProTip:

Rubber boots, rubber gloves, plastic goggles, and surgical masks are a few essential items you should keep handy at all times if you live in an area of Charleston that is especially prone to flooding or water damage. Having them on hand will allow you to safely and quickly re-enter your property to assess damage.

What to Remove First?

If any area of your home requires restoration, begin to repair flood damage by taking out and throwing away anything that can’t be washed, sanitized, or disinfected properly. Although this is usually a painful process, it’s your safest option to prevent the growth of mold and other harmful bacteria and pathogens.

Some items which usually can’t be disinfected (or that would be further damaged in the sanitization and restoration process):

  • Padding and inexpensive area rugs
  • Wall coverings
  • Pillows and bedding
  • Cosmetics
  • Stuffed animals, children’s toys
  • Foam items
  • Paper products (books, magazines)

All drywall and insulation which has been exposed to sewage or flood water contaminants should be torn out and removed.

Beginning the Drying Process

At Disaster Plus, we realize that getting your home functional again is one of your primary concerns. Although water damage is most safely efficiently remedied using our powerful water extraction techniques and processes, there are several things you can do immediately repair flood damage to begin making your property usable. As mentioned previously, windows and doors should remain open. Not only does this help ventilate spaces where mold is most likely to spawn, but it can also help accelerate drying time. You should also employ every fan and dehumidifer that you can get your hands on. Position fans near doors and windows so that you can blow air out rather than in — if you blow air in, you will likely spread the mold!

If water is standing several inches deep, your best bets are: shop vacuums, carpet steam cleaners with vacuum mode, water transfer pumps, and submersible or “sump pumps” (which Disaster Plus recommends purchasing in advance of hurricane season).

Disaster Plus ProTip:

If there is flood damage to your home, it is probable that mold may begin to grow in your HVAC (air-conditioning) system. Before turning your system on you should have a professional inspect your system to eliminate any mold and stop any future growth from occurring. Once you have done this (or if you are absolutely certain that water has not damaged your HVAC) you can begin to use your AC to help remove water moisture from your property.

What If I See or Smell Mold?

Contact Disaster Plus immediately. Mold is extremely hazardous and, given the right conditions, can spread rapidly. Refer to our Mold Protection and Prevention guide for more information on ways that you can recognize mold during, stop mold growth, and instructions on quick and safe ways to remove small amounts of the fungus.

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