Disinfectants for Flooded Structures - Kill the Bacteria
The most readily available option is household bleach. Use a 1:3 ratio with water to throughly wipe down all surfaces including the concrete under flooring. Other products are available at the box stores that are designed to kill mold, mildew and bacteria. Follow the manufacturers directions on the package to treat hard surfaces.
Industrial strength products used by contractors can be effective on both porous (such as wood framework) and non-porous surfaces. Fiberlock manufacturers several products that can be used for effective clean-up. Visit their website - Fiberlock.com for more information. Most homeowners will need their Shockwave product. Contact Fiberlock to find a retail location near you or to purchase on-line.
Cleaning Up After the Storm – Initial Steps
First, regardless of if you have insurance coverage or not document, document, document. Take pictures of everything before you remove anything, this includes all flooring, walls, furniture, appliances -- everything. If you have flood coverage your insurance company will want to see all of this. If you don’t have flood coverage and will be applying for aid you need clear documentation of what you lost. So again document, document, document.
Next, remove all wet carpet and padding. If you have laminate floors take those out as well. You may be able to save wood floors, depending on how much they are cupping, if you can get to them soon enough. Get the water off the wood floors and dehumidify ASAP. Unfortunately, many people will not have electricity and may not be able use the air conditioner as a dehumidifier. But, even if you do have electricity and are able to run the AC, it is best to get some dehumidifiers in there along with fans to move the air to help dry those wood floors. If your floors were installed in the 60s or earlier it may have a wood screed under it. This can also trap water so be sure to verify all the moisture is out. If you have ceramic tile or natural stone floors these can normally be saved by just a thorough cleaning.
Now, let's remove the sheetrock that got wet. Most people think they need to remove all the sheetrock, but that is not the case. If you had 18 inches of water in your home you normally only need to remove 20 to 24 inches of sheetrock. Keep in mind when the sheetrock was installed it is laid its side and there is a joint at the 4-foot height. If the structure had less than 4 feet of water you should not need to remove above that joint. Once you have the sheetrock out remove all wet insulation. The reason I had you cut the sheetrock a little above the waterline is because the insulation will absorb water a little up into the wall.
Treating the areas that got wet
In order to kill any bacteria, remove all wet items from the house. If you come across backer board in the walls or floors know that this material will normally dry out. Again, circulating air in the house and having the AC on and/or a dehumidifier will help. The water that was in your home was not necessarily clean water, so everything needs to be scrubbed in order to kill any bacteria that may be growing. You can use bleach, products such as Wet & Forget or Spray & Forget, or any other product that will kill mold, mildew and bacteria. Mold, mildew and bacteria can destroy your lumber, but as long as take steps to clean it out the frame of your home should be fine.
Even though the cabinets in your home are wood, generally after a flood are not salvageable. Besides that, you need to get to behind them to remove sheetrock and insulation. Additionally, rarely are you able find matching cabinets so you will likely be replacing the upper cabinets too.
The other items that have to come out if they went underwater is all electrical outlets, such as plugs and switches. If you are right on the coast and had salt water in your home may have to replace some of the wiring, but I would have it checked by an electrician first. There is normally no need for the homeowner to remove the wiring because electrician can use the old wires to pull the new wires if need be.
These are just some quick notes to get you started down a long journey rebuilding your home. My heart goes out to everyone whose homes were damaged and I wish I could tell you that they will be rebuilt quickly, but I'm afraid that will not be the case. If you have insurance, the adjusters will want to come out to do their part. If you don't have insurance and you decide to apply with FEMA remember you are dealing with a government agency with lots of red tape and it will be slow. I will tell you normally FEMA offers rebuild money at a very reasonable cost if you have to pay it back at all. Because of all the damage along the Gulf Coast building supplies will be tough to get for a while, but I believe that we as Texans will endure and show the rest of the country how to get an area back up and running.
Hiring a Contractor
Please use the following checklist when selecting a contractor. Price is only one factor when selecting a company to do the work. Remember that any company worth doing business with will have a contract they use, and homeowners’ should insist on a written contract. Your homeowners’ insurance company will want to see it.
DO NOT PAY CASH UP FRONT.* You should never pay any money upfront when you sign the contract, unless work is starting. Work starting is defined as engineers or architect doing the preliminary walkthrough for the site design or materials being delivered, anything that costs the contractor money.
Jim has addressed how and when to pay a contractor on the show before. You can listen to it here.
Know the right questions to ask:
· Does your company have general liability Insurance and worker’s comp?
· Will your company's insurance agent provide me with verification of insurance?
· What sort of warranty do you provide for work and materials?
· Is the warranty transferable to future owners?
· Does your industry require a license? If so, is the license holder on staff?
· Can your company assist in insurance claims?
· Does your company have an office?
· Does your company have its own employees, use sub-contractors, or both?
· Will I be able to remain on the premises during the repair?
· Can you provide me with a list of customers for references?
· Is it your responsibility to clean up any mess made on my property?
· Will you follow up once the job is completed to check on the quality of the work?
· Also, make sure you ask how long the current company has been in business under the same name and ownership.
* Please note: Texas House Bill 1711 prohibits a disaster remediation contractor from requiring a person to make a full or partial payment under a contract before the contractor begins work. View the full bill statement here: Texas Legislature Online.
Recovery of a Flooded Vehicle
If your car, truck or SUV went under water during the recent flood try these tips before you call it a total loss.
1) Open up the car and remove everything that doesn't take force to remove, spare tire, trunk mats, cabin filters, air filters and all covers under the hood.
2) If you can GENTLY remove your door panels do so as well as removing the sill protectors and trying to loosen the carpet.
3) Remove your fuse box covers.
4) If you have an air compressor start using it underneath the dash to help dry unseen problems.
5) Dry vac the seats before you put chemicals on them, keep fans or open air continually moving inside your car.
Information provided by Kurt Chase, car expert and host of The Automotive Edge Radio Show. For more information or help contact Kurt through his website TheAutomotiveEdge.com.