Water or Flood Damage Requires Emergency Actions, in order to Prevent Residual Damages
To start with, let’s clarify the term coined, residual damage is the left-over residue after a flooding or water-damage event. The remaining mud, sludge, soil, sand, even tree trunks, leaves, branches or any other, say, garbage is the residual damage we need to deal with after some disastrous even such as a flood or water damage.
Secondly, we all know that immediate measures need to be taken after a flood but after the first urgent steps we need to take care of the residual materials left over. All in all, there could be even some septic waste after the flood or the clogged pipeline that results in toxic materials being left over thus you need to consider your options and determine the steps that you would follow to clean your property of the residual damage and waste.
What’s more, be well-aware that the flooded waters and respectively the residual material could be chemically or bacterially contaminated. Mold growth could also be considered some aftermath of the flooding itself.
The steps to be taken in order to deal with residual damage are the following:
- Remove wet carpets, furniture, contents, and boxes of wet stored items. Store items to be salvaged from the flooded area outside or in a garage, not in upper floors of the flooded building. Otherwise you may accidentally carry mold or other contaminants to other building areas;
- get inspection for any unsafe gas or electrical connections; the danaged fuel tanks that could have been floating during the flood should also be checked for any risky leakage of oil or gas;
- any wet insulation, drywall and panelling should be removed as well to limit the danger of mold and mildew growth; what’s more, those porous material like drywall and plaster can never be cleaned thoroughly thus it is best to just get rid of them;
- ceiling insulation should also be removed if the upper floor has been flooded since residual damage can cause mold growth as well. Additionally, regardless of material such as plaster, drywall, or ceiling tiles if wet they should also be discarded, and the remaining suspended ceiling tiles removed to permit inspection and drying as well as to inspect for evidence of water overhead.
- Besides if mold is already visible or suspected, it’s best to use containment to avoid air movement from the residually damaged area to other building areas.
Containment (of moldy dust or demolition dust and debris) generally means negative air and poly plastic barriers. “Negative air” in a moldy or dusty work area: by use of fans blowing outdoors from the work area and plastic barriers at its entry keep the work area at negative air pressure with respect to the rest of the building. So dust in the work area does not tend to escape to other building areas.”Containment” is a term coined to mean that plastic barriers are set up and other steps are taken to isolate a moldy or dusty work area from the rest of a building.
- Moldy Surface Cleaning: after rough demolition to remove wet and porous or visibly moldy materials and other items listed above, all remaining residuals such as loose dirt and debris should be removed, and the remaining exposed surfaces such as wall studs and framing, masonry walls, floors, plywood sheathing, should be cleaned to remove all loose and surface debris. Stains in wood do not have to be removed as long as there is no remaining surface mold or debris.
- Residual damage disinfection – after flooding the floodwaters usually carry septic or sewage contaminats hence disinfection of all building surfaces should be part of the cleaning process. Still we should never allow disinfectants or fungicidal sprays to serve as a substitute for removing the residual like all debris and the physical cleaning of dirty or moldy surfaces.
Last but not least, remember that Surface cleaning and disinfection of residual damage can be carried on before the building has been fully dried, however the process is most effective when the building has been dried. Still cleaning debris while it is still wet has the advantage of less spreading of mold and pathogens by airborne dust.
- It’s wisest to store all valuable papers that have been damaged in the flood in a freezer until they are needed (After cleanup process, do consult your lawyer to determine whether flood-damaged documents, or just the information in them, must be retained).
- Record details of flood damage by photograph or video, if possible.
- Register the amount of damage to your home with both your insurance agent and local municipality immediately.
Needed flood cleanup equipment
- Masks and other protective gear
- Pails, mops and squeegees
- Plastic garbage bags
- Unscented detergent
- Large containers for soaking bedding, clothing and linens, and clotheslines to hang them to dry
- You might need to rent additional equipment such as extension cords, submersible pumps, wet/dry shop vacuums, a carbon monoxide sensor and dehumidifiers, fans or heaters.
- When using the equipment, keep extension cords out of the water.
Residuals – dirt and debris
- Remove all soaked and dirty materials as well as debris.
- Break out walls and remove drywall, wood panelling and insulation at least 50 centimetres above the high-water line.
- Flush with the help of a hose down any dirt sticking to walls and solid-wood furniture then rinse again several times.
- Wash and wipe down all surfaces and structures with unscented detergent and water. Rinse.
- Disinfect and flush floor drains and sump pumps with detergent and water. Scrub them to remove greasy dirt and grime.
- Clean or replace footing drains outside the foundation when they are clogged. Consult a professional for advice or service.
The Cost of residual damages
Residual damages can be minimised by adaptation measures, but not eliminated. The weak mitigation and adaptation effort increases the residual damages which will remain at all levels of adaptation and is unavoidable.