Water damage in the home is often more serious than
homeowners realize, as water is absorbed quickly by drywall, floorboards, and
wood framing, leading to damage and eventual mold growth. Mildew can also form
under carpets and carpet padding within days after a flood, creating bothersome
To clean water damage
at home, avoid these common mistakes:
Using household vacuum cleaners
Relying on baking soda to absorb water
Scrubbing stained areas
Using air fresheners to mask odors
Forgetting to get pictures for an insurance
Immediate and efficient water removal is vital for protecting your home from long-term damage and for reducing the risk of mold growth. A homeowner might also consider mold remediation services after their house has suffered water damage, to monitor the home for growing mold and ensure it’s removed as quickly as possible.
If you live in an area prone to strong storms and heavy
rains and especially if you live in a coastal region where flooding is commonplace,
note some information about how to clean water damage in the home. It’s also
helpful to consider what to avoid during the cleanup process as well! You might also benefit from some tips on how
to avoid water damage and keep your home protected from flooding, and some
signs that it’s best to leave water damage cleanup and repair to the pros.
How NOT to Clean
Before your home goes through a flood or suffers water damage for any reason, note some vital tips on what to avoid during the cleanup and some mistakes many homeowners make as well. This will ensure you don’t actually make water damage worse or forget any important steps when it comes to residential water repair and restoration.
Never use a household vacuum cleaner to remove water after a flood. Water damages a vacuum cleaner’s hoses and belts and creates a soppy mess in the bag or canister! Household vacuum cleaners are also too weak to remove water absorbed by carpeting, carpet padding, and other surface materials in the home.
Baking soda might absorb some water on the surface of a home’s carpet or floorboards but is also ineffective at pulling up water absorbed by carpet fibers and padding and water that has seeped into the pits and pores of wood flooring.
Scrubbing stained areas of carpet, wood floors, drywall, and other surfaces often pushes water and residues into those materials! It’s also easy to damage carpet fibers, wood flooring and it coatings, wall paint, water damaged plaster, and other materials with a stiff scrub brush.
Spraying air fresheners might offer some temporary relief from the smell of mold, mildew, and other contaminants, but that relief will be just temporary! Also, if you notice a musty smell in the home after a flood, this often indicates the growth of unhealthy mold or mildew and those materials should be cleaned properly so that they don’t continue to grow and spread.
After a flood your first priority is, of course, your safety and the safety of your family and pets; never walk through floodwaters and especially if they’re near electrical outlets or devices. However, you do want to get whatever pictures of your home are possible before water damage cleanup and restoration, as proof of the extent of damage for a potential claim on your homeowner’s insurance.
Tips on Cleaning
Residential Water Damage
Now that you know some things to avoid when it comes to
water damage cleanup in the home, note some added tips for ensuring your home
is clean and safe after a flood.
Do whatever you can to cut off the source of
flood even if it seems that floodwaters are receding. Your home’s carpet,
drywall, and other materials could just be absorbing that water! For floods
caused by plumbing fixtures, shut off the home’s main water valve. Block gaps
along doorways with thick towels to stop outside floodwaters.
Invest in a good sump pump to remove standing
and excess water. Trying to remove water manually is often messy and more
physically challenging than you might realize! A sump pump can also run
throughout the night, making quicker and easier work of removing large amounts
Floodwaters often contain harmful bacteria and
especially water from an overflowing toilet or shower drain, broken dishwasher,
or overflowing septic tank. Even rainwater can wash harmful residues into your
home! Use bleach-based or other cleansers designed to kill germs and bacteria and
wear protection gear when performing DIY water damage cleanup.
It’s also good to avoid using indoor fans during
the cleanup process as they might spread those contaminants around your home!
Aim fans at a water-damaged area rather than out a window, to help that area
dry quickly without spreading germs.
Proper extraction is essential for water damage
cleanup. A heavy-duty wet/dry shop vacuum will extract water from underneath
carpet fibers, although it’s still advisable to pull up that carpeting and
ensure the floorboards under it are dried thoroughly.
Carpet padding also needs proper drying and
sanitizing, to avoid the growth of mildew. If foam padding has already started
to disintegrate, it needs replacing and not just drying.
Get pictures of the damage throughout the
cleanup and restoration process. Never assume that any detail is unimportant,
as added pictures of damaged carpeting and its underlying padding, broken
sections of a room’s ceiling, sediment lining the walls and other such damaged
areas can help an adjuster understand the extent of damage and costs involved
in your cleanup efforts.
When to Call a Local
Water Damage Cleanup Service
It’s vital that you rely on professional water damage
cleanup services when needed, to ensure your home is safe for occupation and to
reduce the risk of damage to surface materials. You need to call a water damage
restoration and repair company for floods caused by burst plumbing pipes, backed
up shower drains and overflowing toilets, and other plumbing fixtures, to
ensure proper cleanup of sewage, food debris, and other harmful waste.
If it’s obvious that drywall, the home’s subflooring, and
other materials that are difficult to access and clean have absorbed water,
call a water damage cleanup company. Their technicians will have the tools and
equipment needed to remove that water and keep your home safe structurally. A
trained water damage cleanup restoration contractor will also know when
materials are damaged beyond repair and need replacing instead.
If you’ve attempted DIY water damage cleanup and notice a musty
smell in the home or if interior spaces seem overly humid and clammy, your
house probably needs water cleanup services. Your DIY efforts might have been
ineffective at removing all standing water and for preventing mold and mildew
growth, and a professional water damage restoration company will be able to
finish the job properly.
It’s also vital that you never risk your safety and leave
water damage cleanup to professionals if water is near an electrical outlet, if
there are electrical appliances in the water, if an outside storm causing the
flood has downed power lines as well, or if you notice any sewage and other
such strong odors. Trying to manage water cleanup and repairs in those
conditions can be hazardous if not downright deadly! If you have any doubts or
questions regarding your safety, call a water cleanup company rather than
attempting DIY cleanup.
How to Avoid Water
Damage in the Home
A homeowner can take many steps to protect their home from
plumbing emergencies and outside floodwaters, reducing the risk of water damage
and needed repairs. Note a few tips you might consider when it comes to
avoiding water damage in the first place, or at least minimizing that damage as
much as possible.
If you live in an area prone to strong storms
and heavy rainfall, be alert to flood warnings. You can even download a weather
alert app to your phone, or make it a point to check online weather forecasts
every day. If you’re alerted to a potential flood, you’ll have more time to
protect your home from damage!
If there is the risk of flooding in the area,
roll up thick towels and push them up against doorframes, to seal off that gap
and block floodwater.
Invest in a good sump pump and have it at the
ready during flood seasons. Test it a few other times throughout the year, to
ensure it’s in good working order and ready to remove floodwaters.
Keep your home’s plumbing in good condition, to
avoid the risk of a burst pipe, backup, overflowing toilet, and so on. Have a
plumber clean out the pipes every year or as often as recommended.
During wintertime, keep a faucet dripping at all
times, to avoid the risk of a frozen and then burst pipe.
When you do note plumbing issues in the home,
have those problems addressed quickly; a small water leak can result in major
water damage if left unchecked, as well as resultant mold growth!
Should carpet be
replaced after water damage?
Only a water damage cleanup expert can note if your home’s
carpet needs replacing after a flood. In many cases, a professional cleaning
restores carpet efficiently, while layers of waste and sediment and other
damage might indicate the need for new carpeting.
How long does it take
for mold to grow after water damage?
In dark and damp places, mold might require no more than
24-48 to develop and then spread. If you suspect mold growth after water damage
in your home, call a mold cleanup and restoration expert immediately.