After a flood, most homeowners want to restore their house to its original condition as quickly as possible. Those who live in older homes should understand that a post-flood renovation is more about safety than redecorating. You can take the torture out of post-flood renovation by keeping these tips in mind.
Contact Your Insurance Company First
Your first call should be to your homeowners’ insurance agent to learn exactly what’s covered. Flood insurance is not included in regular homeowners insurance. You need to purchase a special policy offered through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Whether or not you live in a flood-prone area, you can and should add flood insurance to your homeowners’ policy. Floods don’t only occur in natural disasters. They can result from other causes such as broken pipes or a sewage backup. According to Bankrate, the average flood costs homeowners approximately $39,000 in damage, and this will not be covered by your homeowners’ policy.
Hire an Emergency Flood Cleanup Company
Water damage from a flood can be a hazard. The longer the water sits, the more dangerous it is to your home and to your health. A clean-up company can extract the water from your home quickly, thoroughly, and safely. They will have a team of professionals and the equipment needed to remove the water in a matter of hours. Getting the water removed quickly reduces the risk of mold, mildew, and bacteria growth from standing water. Also, the sooner the water is removed, the sooner everything will start to dry out. This could potentially reduce the cost of your total losses.
Hire a Contractor with the Right Experience
Find a contractor who has experience with water damage restoration. A quick internet search can lead you to an experienced restoration contractor. Simply search for “water damage company” followed by your location (your city and state or your zip code). You will get a list of all of the contractors in your area who specialize in water damage restoration. Alternately, your insurance agent or adjuster may be able to recommend a reputable company. Finally, ask around. Chances are if you have water damage so do your neighbors. They may already know the name of a reliable contractor.
Before hiring anyone, check references with people you know and by checking for feedback from customers online. Finally, find a contractor that has been certified by The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) or is affiliated with industry organizations such as like the Restoration Industry Association (RIA), the Society of Cleaning and Restoration Technicians (SCRT), and the Indoor Quality Air Association (IAQA). These associations indicate that the company is trustworthy and employs trained damage restoration professionals.
Hire a Licensed Electrical Contractor
If the water rose high enough to reach your electrical panel, outlets, and switches, you have a safety hazard. Similarly, if water got into your fixtures and appliances, you need a contractor to check them before turning the power back on. Find a licensed electrical contractor, and check to make sure that they are familiar with electrical problems from flood damage.
Hire an HVAC Specialist
Find an HVAC Specialist that is certified by the Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI). Flood-damaged water heaters, furnaces, boilers, air-conditioning, ventilation, and heat pump systems will likely need to be replaced, not repaired. Similarly, ductwork associated with central forced-air systems will likely be contaminated and need to be replaced. Natural gas and propane furnaces and boilers have valves and controls that are especially vulnerable to water damage. Coils and fans on electric furnaces may be corroded. Heat pumps, air conditioning systems, and radiant heat systems all have coils, pipes, and wiring that may have been damaged by the flood.
Prepare to Replace Your Flooring
All of your floors and subfloors will probably need to be replaced, not repaired. Laminate and hardwood floors will have absorbed flood waters, causing them to swell and warp. If you have carpeting or tile, it will need to be replaced. Even though synthetic carpet does not feed mold and tile does not absorb water, the wooden subfloor will likely have been soaked through. Since wood is a food source for mold, it all needs to be ripped out and replaced.
Dry Out the Walls
Make sure your contractor opens up all of your walls. Most walls in newer homes have wood studs and drywall. Walls in an older home may be made of plaster. These materials will get soaked in a flood and may grow mold. A contractor will need to open up the walls to let them dry out.
Drywall should be removed from at least one foot above the water line all the way to the floor. All insulation should be removed because it will never fully dry out, leading to poor air quality, along with the growth of mold, mildew, and rot.
Once all the drywall and insulation have been removed, the contractor should leave the cavity open so that the walls completely dry out. It may take several weeks for everything to get completely dry. Even if the wall seems dry to the touch, the studs can be wet on the inside.
A licensed water damage restoration company can use a meter to test for moisture in all areas (North, South, East, and West) of your home. Industry standards dictate that the moisture level must be lower than 17% before it is safe to rebuild.
Although you can purchase air quality tests that you can do yourself, a professional air quality test would be more thorough. They will tests samples for airborne mold spores, use specialized meters to assess temperature, humidity, and toxins, and visually inspect the heating, ventilation, and filtration system for combustion safety concerns and filtration issues.
Redo the Basement
You probably should replace your entire basement. The last thing you want is to have mold growing in your basement after having renovated the rest of your house. Have your contractor tear your basement out right down to the foundation and rebuild it with mold-resistant drywall and insulation.
For those with older homes, a flood renovation doesn’t have to be a nightmare. With the right professionals working on your side, you can rest assured that your home will not only look as good as it once did but that it is also safe for your family to live in.