How to Clean Up Your Home After Flooding
Hurricane Harvey has left and has left thousands of homes around the Texas Coast with a lot of water damage. It can be an overwhelming feeling when you return to your home and think to yourself, “Where do I begin?” Here are the steps to take when cleaning up your home after a flooding event.
The system must be shut off before you go back into your house. It needs to be repaired and inspected by an electrician before it can be turned back on. Unplug any electronics, appliances and remove them.
Call Your Insurance Provider
Notify them immediately to tell them what happened to your home. Take pictures of all areas and items that have been damaged on the inside and outside.
Here are some of the areas to take pictures of as you begin going through your home:
- Crown molding
- AC and Heater
- Private sewage and well systems
Register With FEMA
After you have taken pictures and talked with your insurance provider, register for assistance with FEMA here.
The Clean Up
- Shovel out as much mud as possible and use a hose to wash away mud from hard surfaces. Keep in mind the mud is contaminated and needs to go.
- Clean and disinfect every surface. Scrub surfaces with hot water and soap. Then disinfect with a solution of 1/4 cup bleach per gallon of water or a disinfecting product. Cupboards and counters need to be cleaned and rinsed with a chlorine bleach solution before storing dishes.
- All plates, cups, glasses, and Tupperware need to be cleaned with hot water and disinfecting soap. Silverware, pots, pans and other metal items SHOULD NOT be cleaned with bleach but instead hot water and soap. You can boil water in the pots and pans as well.
Furniture and other items
- Take furniture, rugs, bedding, and clothing outside to dry. Use an air conditioner, dehumidifier or open windows to remove moisture from inside of your home. Use fans to circulate air in the house if you have power and it is safe to use.
- If mold has developed, brush off items outdoors to prevent scattering spores in the house. Wear a two-strap protective mask to prevent breathing mold spores.
- Mattresses should be thrown away.
- Upholstered furniture soaks up contaminants from floodwaters and should be cleaned only by a professional or thrown out. Solid wood furniture can usually be restored unless damage is severe.
- Toys and stuffed animals should be thrown away if wet.
- Photographs, books and important papers can be frozen and cleaned later. They should be dried carefully and slowly. Wash the mud off and store the articles in plastic bags and put them in a frost-free freezer to protect from mildew and further damage until you have time to thaw and clean them or take them to a professional.
Ceilings and walls
- Remove molding, sheet rock, plaster, and paneling to at least the flood level if soaked by contaminated floodwater. If most of the wallboard was soaked, consider cutting a 4 to 12-inch high section from the bottom and top of walls. This creates a “chimney effect” of air movement for fast drying. Watch out for pipes, ductwork, and wiring.
- Flood soaked insulation may need to be removed and replaced.
Heating and cooling systems
- Will need inspection and cleaning by a professional
With wood subflooring, the floor covering (vinyl, linoleum, carpet) must be removed so the subflooring can dry thoroughly which may take several months. Please make sure you take pictures of anything you are removing for insurance purposes.
If floodwater covered your carpeting, discard it and the padding below it.
- Vinyl flooring and floor tile may need to be removed to allow drying of the subfloor.
- Wood floors
Wooden floors should be dried gradually. Sudden drying could cause cracking or splitting. Some restoration companies can accelerate drying time.
- Check for leaks or weak spots in the ceiling. Get a professional to check roof tiles.
- Check gutters for clogging
Private sewage systems
Flooding of a private sewage system can be a hazardous situation. It may lead to a back-up of sewage in the home, contaminated drinking water and lack of sanitation until the system is fixed. Seek out a professional for help on this.
Dispose of damaged items responsibly
Try to organize damaged goods into piles and take what you can to recycling centers. Go to your city or town’s waste management website to find out where to recycle toxic liquids, any damaged electronics from cell phones to TVs and computers. You can look at solid waste management to find recycling centers in your neighborhood.
Check out this quick video with 7 tips before you get started from Home Show Radio
Also, Tom Tynan will be on air on Home Show Radio Saturday and Sunday from 8 am – 11 am on 610 AM in Houston. He can answer your specific questions about home repair. You can call in during the show at 713-572-4610 to ask your specific questions.
For more information and resources for rebuilding after Hurricane Harvey go to TheGreensheet.com/Harvey
Remember The Greensheet and TheGreensheet.com are resources to help you find the items and companies you need to help rebuild.