First Step - Assess the Damage
The first step in any restoration or water damage clean up project is assessing your situation. If standing water in your home is being caused by a nearby river/creek/pond/lake flooding or rainfall of biblical proportions, there is likely little you can do to slow the tide aside from filling and placing sandbags. If you find that a leaking pipe is the culprit you can easily shut the water off at the source. Regardless, once no more water is coming in you need to determine whether or not this is a job you can handle yourself or if professional assistance is going to be necessary.
Granted, a severe situation, like a flooded basement is a task that is best handled by a professional, but for those of us with a some confidence in our abilities, a good deal of time on our hands, as well as a good like these can be repaired without professional help.Once the source of the flooding is contained, you need to take note of what type of water flooded your home. Different types of floodwater often mean differences in how you approach the cleanup process. As a rule, there are three general categories in which flood waters can fall.
- Clear water is considered the easiest to handle. Clear water is largely devoid of contaminants, bacteria and other harmful chemicals and organic compounds that are harmful to your health. Tap water and rain water (from say, a leaking roof) are the most common forms of clear water.
- Grey water is the term most commonly assigned to waste water that has not come in contact with and does not contain human or animal waste. Water from your sink, shower, bathtub, washer or dishwasher are the most common types.
- The last category is black water. Black water is any water that has come in contact with or contains human or animal waste. Runoff, hurricane floodwaters and water from overflowed rivers and lakes should always be treated as such since these waters can and do mix with wastewater that normally would be contained.
Once you have a handle on what type of water you are dealing with, you can make a much better determination as to whether you want to tackle this by restoring water damage on your own or calling for professional assistance.
So You Think You're Up For Restoring Water Damage? - A DIY Approach
So you've decided to tackle the task of cleaning your flooded basement yourself? No matter the severity, always keep your health and safety in mind when restoring water damage. Since rarely is it know exactly what all chemicals or contaminants are contained in the flood waters, you need to do what you can to ensure your health and safety first. For any restoration job, these items should always be on hand.
- A NIOSH N95 rated mask or HEPA respirator is a necessity. Be sure to look for a minimum of a N95 rating since the CDC has found this to be the minimum level of filtration needed to keep most viruses and bacteria out. The 3M 8293 mask and 6291 respirator exceed the N95 rating and offer true HEPA filtration that will also capture even oil based contaminants.
- You will likely need several pairs of gloves. Be sure to invest in a heavy duty, waterproof pair. You want protection from not only possible contaminants in the water, but also sharp objects.
- When working in possibly contaminated areas, be sure to have a pair of waterproof, rubber boots. Keep these away from your other shoes or boots and when finished, discard them.
- You may also want to consider a pair of safety glasses and hardhat depending on your specific situation.
- Lastly, work in clothes that you won't mind throwing away when you're finished. If there are harmful contaminants in the water, then you will want to discard most of the items listed above, once the job is complete.
Once the safety side of things are covered you'll need to move on to what materials you will need to actually dry and clean the effected area. Though no two restoration or cleanup jobs are the same, there are several basic items you should have on hand.
- If you have standing water, you will almost always need a submersible pump to remove the water from the room or area. For smaller jobs, a throwaway mop and bucket will work without much additional expense.
- A water damage restoration dehumidifier is essential. Often these models have an integrated condensate pump to push the water to a nearby drain or out and away from the home or structure. Many restoration professionals use either Ebac dehumidifiers or Dri-Eaz dehumidifiers, and both are excellent models to consider for your own restoration job.
- While drying the area, an air mover is also handy to have. These basically act as industrial strength fans to which you can attach ducting to push moist air away from the drying area or you can use it by itself to keep air circulating.
- To help keep potential airborne contaminants contained, we recommend an industrial air purifier. If your job is a smaller one, this may not be necessary.
- Smaller items you will need include, rags, buckets, sponges, plenty of garbage bags and cleaners/disinfectants. Take care in choosing your cleaning products and try to focus on non-toxic cleaners and be sure to have a disinfectant mold cleaner on hand.
- Other possible products you may need include a generator (for instances where the power needs to be shut off for safety reasons), a wet/dry vac (for carpet), and a moisture meter is a good idea to ensure that structures in the room (drywall, flooring, etc.) are actually dry.
Cleaning Up the Water Damage
Before beginning, you should take note that some larger cleanup jobs may require you to cut off the power in the home. This may require use of a generator as well as some prior planning. If there is standing water, this needs to be removed first, usually best done with the use of an industrial style pump.
From here, clean from largest to smallest objects, removing everything possible from the area. If in doubt about something, it is better to err on side of caution and toss it. If you are using a dehumidifier, simply turn it on and let it run throughout the clean up process. This is where a commercial model will far outpace a residential dehumidifier, and when restoring water damage, remember, there is no such thing as "too dry."
Once the room is clear you can determine how to tackle the flooring and walls. Circumstances will vary, so this may involve replacing flooring & drywall or something as simple as mopping up and properly disinfecting. Once all is clean you can continue to dry the room to ensure any hidden or residual moisture is removed. Always remember to keep contaminated items separate from other things in and around the home.
This gives you a broad view of how to tackle a water restoration job. Situations will vary, and in some cases, not all of these may apply while in others situation you may need to do even more. If this is the case or if you feel handling water damage is more than you want to deal with, contact a professional.
Restoring Water Damage - Professional Assistance
Did hurricane style rains decide to park over your home for a week or a mini-Mississippi has now turned your backyard into the newest fishery in your neighborhood? When the task of restoring your home after water damage seems like too much for you to handle alone, contact a professional. As stated earlier, when dealing with black water or unknown contaminants, please contact a reputable professional to address the situation.
Searching for a local contractor after widespread flood damage can be difficult, like the companies you see literally pop up over night after strong storms, hail or tornadoes have passed through, fly-by-night contractors can be a common obstacle. When searching for a local contractor, you want to ensure they are fully licensed and insured, and look for an established company with a solid reputation. You can always check listings with the Better Business Bureau and in some cases can look online to find reviews about a company/contractor. References, if available, can be worth following up on before you make your decision. Lastly, look for a contractor who will stand behind their work with a warranty (this is where an out of state or fly-by-night company can leave you high and dry - figuratively, not literally). Keep these factors in mind to avoid overpaying or facing disappointment down the road.
Floods can range from a minor weekend inconvenience to a devastating loss of your home, and everything in between. Cleaning up after floods, hurricanes, and storms presents unique challenges particularly when it comes to controlling germs, bacteria, and mold, but by following a few simple guidelines you can make your drying out and restoration project quicker and safer. And, knowing how to, as well as what you should or should not tackle can help make your decision about clean up a little less stressful.
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