Dealing with Water Damage and Mold Following A Flood
Flooding has been in the news lately. Floods across the country and world are becoming more and more commonplace as a result of hurricanes and heavy rains that are a byproduct of climate change. For homeowners, this means that problems with water damage are becoming a common and recurrent problem, especially problems in dealing with mold.
Has your home been struck by flood or extensive water damage? Or do you suspect that you have hidden mold issues, even if you haven’t been victim of a flood? If so, here are some tips on what you should do.
1. Hire a professional to assess damage. Sometimes a wall may feel dry to the touch but there still may be dampness underneath. And if the dampness sticks around long enough, that could lead to mold. Flood and mold removal specialists use special moisture meters to detect just how damp things really are.
2. Remove water-logged items. Drywall, insulation, carpeting, wood flooring, cabinetry — any wet item should be removed. This is particularly true in the case of a flood in which water has come in from some natural source of water. If you must venture into flood water, protect yourself with impermeable gloves, masks, goggles and overalls. Flood water can be a source of disease such as hepatitis, E. coli and tetanus. Make sure you don’t have open cuts or wounds, and be sure to take a shower afterward.
3. Get things dry. After contaminated objects and structural and building materials have been removed, a mold and remediation specialist might opt to bring in high-powered fans and dehumidifiers. Insurance companies often require HEPA [High-Efficiency Particulate Air] filters for mold remediation. Drying and air-filtering equipment should be used until the moisture content of the materials are “dry.” Just how dry that is depends on where you live, and each city and state may have different standards. In general, contractors look for less than 16 percent moisture content. And even before the professionals arrive there are things you can do yourself. For instance, drying things out using wet-dry vacuums, sump pumps, or just an old fashioned mob and bucket can do a lot to help move the process along, and provide a jump-start for the professionals.
4. Eliminate mold completely. Mold can grow within 48 hours of water contact. If mold is present in a space of less than 10 square feet, it can be removed using dehumidifiers and fans. But for large expanses of water damage caused by flood waters, homeowners should contact professionals once the storm clouds have passed. For minor damage, the issue may be solved using a mild detergent that is anti-microbial.
5. Ventilate. Keep your windows open for as long as you can, day and night. Turn fans toward the walls and reposition them throughout the day so the walls dry evenly. Keep the fans on 24/7 so that air can circulate through to the drywall.
6. Move saturated items away from the walls. Water-logged rugs, furniture and other items should be moved outside of the home to air dry. If a rug has been damaged by flood water, it’s preferable to discard it, as the bacteria content could cause health problems in the long run.
Water damage and mold can be scary problems to deal with, but if you attack the problem correctly, it is possible to get your home warm, dry, and mold-free again.