Flood Water Damage Clean Up Tips
Mitigation & Restoration
Whether you are waiting for professionals to arrive or you think the damage will be small enough to take care of yourself, these simple tips can help you save your building because timing isn’t just important – it is everything. The longer water sits, the more damage that can be done.
Before we start with our tips, there are a few things you need to know about water-loss to help you be a well-educated customer. First and foremost, you need to be aware of the three categories that define a water-loss:
Category 1 Water Damage – “Clean Water” refers to a water-loss where the source has no substantial risk of causing sickness or discomfort to human inhabitants. An example would be a broken water supply line, a bath tub or sink overflowing, or an appliance malfunction that involves water supply lines (like a refrigerator that has filtered water).
Category 2 Water Damage – “Grey Water” refers to a water-loss where the source may have a significant degree of chemical, biological, and/or physical contamination with the ability to cause illnesses if accidentally consumed, or possibly with over exposure. An example would be an aquarium leakage, waterbed leakage, toilet bowl overflows (that contain urine, but not feces), dish washers or washing machine dish charge, or water that enters the building from hydrostatic pressure (from below grade).
Category 3 Water Damage – “Black Water” refers to grossly unsanitary water, usually carrying pathogenic agents: all of which could cause serious illnesses and discomfort. An example would be discharge from toilets that comes from beyond the toilet trap (back blast from the sewer or septic system), intrusion of flood waters whether that is seawater or rising water from rivers and streams or ground water. It is important to note that Grey Water that stands too long can become Black Water.
Now, for the tips to help you make the most of the immediate response:
First - Find out where the water loss came from! It may sound silly, but say you just got home from work or you just got to the office in the morning and you have found a mini-lake, newly formed, standing in the middle of the room. You don’t know how long it has been there or what category it may be, so you need to act fast. You have to find out where it started, if you can’t locate the source you will need to shut off the water supply to the building – a pipe may have burst. If the roof is leaking, try to contain it as best as you can (rags, buckets, etc.). If it looks like it came from the septic or sewage systems, do not touch it and get out of the area – call in professionals immediately.
Next - Try and clean up a little bit. If the water isn’t a Category 2 or 3 loss that may make you sick and requires professional assistance, you can try to remove the excess water from the floor, carpets and furniture by mopping and blotting. Place aluminum foil or wood between the legs of furniture and the carpet. If you can, remove all art and rugs from the rooms effected and place in dry area. Do not leave any valuables in the rooms with damage. Do not try to use your household vacuum to remove water and try to stay out of rooms where the ceiling is sagging. If it is Category 2 or 3, please call a professional in.
Finally - How bad is the flood damage? You may get lucky and the majority of the damage is small things that you can do the restoration on your own. But if it involves damage to the drywall, flooring (no matter the kind), or the ceilings - especially with Category 2 or 3 standing water, then your best bet is to call in a professional that is trained in water mitigation and restoration.
If you as the home owner, business owner, or appointed decision maker, believe the damage is minor enough that you can do the cleanup yourself, now it is time to start circulating the air! Open the windows (if the humidity outside is less than what you have inside), turn on all your fans, and let the structure breathe. Circulation is key to helping a dry out, but it will also help the smell seem a little less strong. If you have one, or can rent one, grab a dehumidifier and start it running. It will help suck the moisture out of the surrounding room and objects and make it less likely for mold and mildew to develop.
If you have decided your water-loss and flood damage is something you can manage on your own, congrats! But take this advice with a grain of salt, since we don’t have eyes on your damage right this second, this information can only be used as advice like you would receive from a friendly neighbor – we are not liable for your misjudgment of the situation. We always have and always will recommend calling a WRT Certified Technician from an IICRC Certified Firm, like Northwest Abatement Services, to avoid damages getting worse or mold developing - no matter the category of your structure's water-loss.