Floods can happen virtually anywhere, virtually at any time. Water can build up surprisingly fast. Floods can result through excessive rainfall, broken water mains, or plugged sewers. When such a disaster strikes, it can be very difficult to fix a home. The key is to be thorough.
Many areas experience a great deal of rain. This can be compounded by rain over the course of several days. The ground will become saturated. It is amazing how much damage a few inches of rain can do to a house. Depending on the home construction, and the lay of the land, major repairs could be necessary when rain floods into a house. Often this will require the services of a contractor.
Broken Water Mains
Many people do not realize just how much water is passing by their house in the underground water pipes. In many cases, the large diameter pipes are quite old. They can fail at any time. Cities do what they can to detect and repair faults early, but major releases of water can happen practically anywhere. Check out your area to see where the water lines are located. Your city hall can provide the information. If you are close to a large line, you should be wary. Even if you are protected by ditches or berms, the water may enter your premises and cause major damage.
Plugged drainage or sanitary sewers are the worst form of disaster that you might have. The damage will be extensive. Clean up and repair will be difficult, if not dangerous. There is often a great deal of loss of home items such as tools, carpets, and furniture. Sewer backup is a serious situation.
First Repairs After Clean Water Flooding
The repair responses to basic flooding, whether by rain or broken water pipes, is similar. In these cases, the flooding is usually fairly clean. It is certainly rarely toxic. The first issue is to rid the home of the water. Depending on the lay of the land, even a few inches of rain, or pipe leaking for a couple of hours, will cause a great deal of water to enter the home. The basement will fill. Everything on the floor will be soaked, damaged, and/or destroyed.
In the case of a clean water disaster, get the standing water drained out. Remove items like carpets, rugs, and other coverings which are soaked. Dry or replace these. Ensure that the water is gone, and soaked items are removed. After that, the home can be dried. Air out the living space as much as possible. Use large fans to increase air movement. Maintain a warm temperature in order to help drying. These procedures can be very slow in the winter or during continued periods of wet weather.
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First Repairs After Sewer Flooding
If the home is soaked with sewage, cleanup will be significantly more difficult. It is vital to get the toxic material out of the house as quickly as possible. That implies that the sewage fault must be corrected immediately, of course. With no more inflow of dirty water, the cleaning can begin. Remove standing mess as quickly as possible. Use buckets and mops to remove as much as possible. Next, wash the entire area with clean water. This will flush toxic wastes away. Be sure to ensure good drainage of the cleaning water. It is essential to protect everyone who is cleaning up. Gloves, boots, and hazard suits may be necessary. Filter masks are great ideas as well. Very often such work is performed by contractors who will ensure safety at all times.
Follow Up Repairs After Flooding
After the initial cleaning of sewer backup, or clean water damage, the home may need extensive work. Gypsum board may need to be removed. Depending on how long water saturated this material, it may be possible to remove the lower portion of gypsum board only. If so, you can scribe a level line above the extent of the damage. Cut the board along the line and remove the damaged material below. It will also be necessary to remove baseboard trim. Depending on the baseboard, it may be salvageable, or not. If in doubt, discard and replace.
If electrical outlets were submerged by the disaster, these should be inspected by a qualified electrician. This is especially true with sewer back ups. Very often the wiring will be good, after thorough drying. The outlets can be replaced quite easily if needed. Depending on the home, however, there may be quite a few outlets that need to be replaced.
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Be sure to check with your insurance company about flooding. Many policies have severe limitations. Other policies do not cover this type of damage. Discuss options with your company prior to a disaster. The best time to clarify the insurance specifics is well before the need for repairs. Check your area well before you discuss flooding coverage. Are you located near a creek, river, or other body of water? Are you located at the bottom of a large hill? Runoff can overwhelm drainage in such cases. Are your house drains adequate?
Checking everything to do with your home, drains, and insurance coverage before a disaster is an excellent idea. While this is very true for flood-prone areas, it is also helpful for other areas as well. Drainage systems can fail when they are most needed. Check and repair them before they are needed. Insurance sometimes doesn't cover people. Find out what your policy covers. If you need to add protection, discuss specifics with your broker. Get everything in order before a major disaster happens and you need to fix your home. You can protect yourself, and your financial interests, if you do your homework well in advance.
In addition to working house drains, consider installing a sewage back flow prevention device. This is a plumbing part which allows sewage to exit the house, but not return. A one way flapper allows normal flow from the house sewer to the outside. If a back up were to happen, the one way flapper shuts, preventing influx of sewage into the house. These units are well worth the low expense.