Exercise caution when first entering your flooded home. If there is still flood water, it is prudent to wear rubber boots and gloves. Turn the electricity off at the breaker box and get all electrical appliances and extension cords up on higher ground dry them out. Make sure your home is structurally safe, which means looking out for broken sharp objects on the floor and anything you might trip over before moving on to restoration.
Boil all drinking water or use bottled water after a flood. Areas that are dry but have been exposed to sewage due to floods should be thoroughly washed down with a solution of household bleach and water. We recommend a 25% bleach to water solution to reduce surface damage and health problems.
Key Flood Rule: If in doubt, throw it out. Toss out all water damaged rugs, particle board furniture, mattresses, suitcases, food, even photographs and books damaged by flood waters. Then follow your local authority guidelines for flood damaged goods disposal. Many electrical appliances will not survive if they have been submerged in flood water. Dishwashers, refrigerators and vacuum cleaners are cheaper to replace than repair following a disaster. Use rubber gloves and mask to clean loose debris to avoid inhaling any toxic particles.
Wash and dry everything you can following a flood. This prevents further damage. Wash and dry water soaked bedding, towels, drapes, cushions and clothing using the hot sanitizing cycle on your washing machine. Dry clean heat sensitive textiles. Put dishes through the dishwasher on hot cycle.
Remove remaining flood water and dehumidify damp areas. Clean up the last standing flood water with a portable submersible sump pump and a wet dry vac. Then use a high capacity, low temperature dehumidifier to take care of the rest. An auxiliary or built in pump makes this task a lot easier. It is important to open windows and ventilate rather than turn on the heat high (about 50°F) in the house or use fans, which is an invitation to grow mold spores and spread them around the house. Do not try to dry out the house too quickly after a flood, because it will cause wood floors to warp and buckle extending flood damage and slowing restoration.
Clean flood affected surfaces thoroughly. Wash all surface area damage, such as walls, cabinets, basement floors including those which were not in direct flood contact with your bleach solution. Then wipe down with clear water. Using a vapor steam cleaner on all surfaces to disinfect is an even better solution.
Check for interior and structural flood damage. Remove dry wall up to and 2 feet above flood levels on walls and remove all insulation which came in contact with flood waters. It is imperative to do this if you want to avoid future mold problems. We have heard too many horror stories from people whose houses became infested with toxic mold after a flood – so it is not worth taking a chance and skipping this step. Replace hardwood flooring especially all sub floors if they have been soaked by flood water. Keep ventilating with fresh air until the house is completely dry. Have the duct work professionally cleaned after the house has dried out.
Inspect your electrical and plumbing systems after a flood. Have an HVAC professional inspect your electrical systems and appliances after flood waters recede. Replace all filters and switches. Check your furnace, as a burnout of the motor may be imminent. Make sure your plumbing and toilet facilities are working.