A flood, whether it’s the result of a natural incident or a plumbing failure, can wreak devastation on a home. As well as the catastrophic damage it can cause, the home can be left dirty, unsanitary and downright dangerous. To begin getting back to normal, the clean-up operation has to be quick and effective.
Whether you’re dealing with such a disaster or you live in an area prone to flooding and you want to be ready, follow these important steps for cleaning your home after a flood.
Your first job, if you’re dealing with a natural event, will be to remove any contaminated mud, earth and silt from your home. Unfortunately, there’s nothing else you can do other than pick up a spade and start shovelling. Once you’ve cleared everything out, wash away any remaining dirt with a hose.
Now it’s time to start sanitising everything. Anything that has come into contact with flood water should be thrown out. Create a solution of one part bleach and five parts water, and start scrubbing your floors and walls. There could be dangerous pathogens lurking anywhere, so it’s important you cover every inch of your property.
Hit the kitchen first
If you’re having to stay in your home, you’ll need your kitchen functioning to some degree as soon as possible. Fill a large bucket or any sort of large metal container with a solution of five parts water and one part bleach. Wearing gloves and eye goggles, carefully submerge all of your kitchen items in the water, and leave them to soak for about 10 minutes. Carefully take the items out of the water, and leave them to air dry.
Fill another container with the same bleach solution, and scrub all of your kitchen surfaces, cupboards, windows and doors. It doesn’t matter whether you believe the area came into direct contact with the flood water — just clean everything from top to bottom.
Walls and ceilings
Before you do anything with your walls, you will need to inspect the damage. Plaster and plaster boards soak up water like a sponge, so the chances are you’ll need to completely strip the walls back to the structure — whether it’s brick, block, wood or steel. Unfortunately, you may need to give the wall cavities time to dry out, otherwise you could end up with a permanent damp problem. A builder will help you to make the decision, but be prepared to wait for months if the flood waters were high.
Before you do anything, you should ensure that the electricity to your home has been completely shut off. Once you’re ready to begin getting your home habitable again, you should hire a certified electrical contractor to assess the damage and provide you with a quote for repairs and replacements. It’s also important that you have all of your electrical appliances and gadgets tested before they’re used again.
In most cases, any flooring that has been deluged by rain or flood water will need to be ripped up and replaced. If you have concrete floors, have them inspected for damage and leaks. If you have floorboards, you’ll need to make sure they’re completely dry before fitting a replacement floor. You should also lift a few floorboards to check the cavity underneath — you may need to pump water out before proceeding.
Let the professionals do the hard work
It is vital that you call in professionals to assess damage and take care of structural repairs. In most cases, the insurance company will take charge of this process. If you begin decorating before this work is complete, you run the risk of having to start all over again — something you probably won’t be insured for.