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You weathered the storm. After all the warnings and speculation, precautions and concern, the worst is over, and your home is still standing. Standing in water, maybe, but intact. Now all that’s left to do, after counting your lucky stars, is buckle down and focus on flood restoration efforts.
Regardless of the extent of damage to your home, the task may seem overwhelming. After all, water has a way of seeping into the most inaccessible places and causing significant harm. The last thing you want to do is overlook key renovation details, ending up with more problems later as a result.
Below you’ll find specific information regarding complications to look out for when dealing with flood damage, as well as tips to help safeguard your home from further destruction in the future.
Check Your Foundation and Structure
Knowing that your house is standing and intact in no way precludes the possibility of foundation compromise. Check by first scrutinizing your exterior walls. Make sure the sight line from one corner to another, and top to bottom, is straight. If you note curvature or a bulge in the center, this may indicate your house has shifted.
Evaluate any chips or flakes found on foundation concrete. Poke firmly with a screwdriver. No area should be soft enough for a chunk to break off. Finally, look up and study your chimney. Does it have a definite lean to it?
Be aware of indoor structural signs that also indicate probable foundation movement:
- Do you have posts in your basement? Are they at a strict 90-degree angle with the flooring?
- Do the walls bow?
- How about your crawl space? Roll a marble along the floor to make sure it’s not sagging. Do the same thing to any porches or stoops.
Windows, doors and floor tiles can also present tell-tale red flags. Do your doors open, close and latch smoothly? Are any of your windows stuck or difficult to seal close? If you haven’t dropped a heavy object directly on floor tiles, they should not be cracked. Neither should doorways and points where walls meet.
Look Around Outdoor Areas for Damage
Any of the above indicators point out the need to protect your home from further disrepair. During restoration, pay strict attention to the soil around your foundation and the slope at which it falls. Make sure surrounding soil slopes downward at an approximate grade of 6 inches for every 10 feet.
Clear drainage gutters and extend downspouts out at least 5 feet. Consider a rainwater catch system to further assure water does not seep into foundation walls.
Are there any mature trees planted close to the house? Their roots will draw water right where you don’t want it. Move deep-rooted plantings, and consider soaking the soil about half a foot around your home when it rains to prevent subsequent expansion and shrinking.
Look for Mold and Protect Your Home for the Future
Anytime water enters the drywall or wood of a structure, an excellent possibility of mold infestation follows, especially if the water is allowed to sit. Once mold spores begin to grow, they spread quickly.
Not always visible to the naked eye, mold may be a factor if you or your family members suddenly present marked allergy symptoms such as sneezing, upper respiratory congestion and labored breathing.
During flood restoration, keep the moisture level in your home low by:
- Using fans, air conditioning, exhaust ventilation and dehumidifiers.
- Removing soaked carpeting, rugs, curtains and upholstered furniture.
- Considering re-flooring with hardwood or ceramic tile.
- Re-evaluating your home’s insulation with an eye toward preventing habitual condensation. Pipes, windows and water tanks are common culprits.
Search for Hot Points
Electrical issues associated with flood and water damage can be severely dangerous and should receive full evaluation. Be aware of any outlets that are hot, have a pervasive burning smell, or put off electrical shocks or sparks. If your lights flicker or do not work, check the circuit breaker with caution. If the panel, fuse box or fuses have been submerged, they must be replaced.
The same goes for your furnace or boiler, heat and air conditioning units, blowers, fans and lights. All household items that are motorized or run off a circuit board such as cell phones, computers, TVs and microwaves may be rendered inoperable. Keep careful records for insurance claims. Take pictures and try to include make, model and serial number codes.
Make sure you hire a licensed electrician to evaluate the damage and offer recommendations for raising electric ground components. You might also consider a more highly elevated location for your HVAC system, especially if it, too, requires full replacement.
Perhaps the best way to begin restoring your home after a flood is to contact a specialist who has helped clients weather storms — and their aftermath — time and time again.