How to deal with water damage after a flood |
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How to deal with water damage after a flood

by Jillian CariolaPublished: May 11, 2017Updated: May 11, 2017

Avoid getting overwhelmed by home repair after a flood with these guidelines.

Treating water damage caused by flooding MyProperty Philippines community flooding cleaning repair

Flooding is a major issue in many parts of the Philippines, and at its most destructive, it can cause severe property and infrastructure damage. Although not as devastating as loss of life, damage caused to properties can be just as distressing to property owners who work hard to purchase and maintain the home that is left damaged by prolonged submersion in flood water.

If your home is in a low-lying area and therefore more at risk of being flooded, here are some of the most common types of water-related damage it most likely sustains, as well as tips on how to solve them.


1. Mold

In any area that is constantly damp, mold is almost always present. It is not just unsightly; it is also dangerous with prolonged exposure, so it must be removed immediately. Due to its toxicity, mold removal should ideally be done by professionals, especially when it has covered a large area of your home. But if the infestation is manageable and you would prefer to do it on your own, it is imperative that all precautions be taken.

Treating water damage caused by flooding MyProperty Philippines mold mildew damage cleaning
Cleaning mold off a wall. Photo via Depositphotos

When a moldy surface is disturbed, spores are released into the air and can be inhaled or ingested, so be sure to wear eye protection, mask, and gloves before getting to work. Use non-ammonia soap and hot water to clean materials like metal, wood, plastic, and glass. If cleaning concrete, you may need to use a stiff brush as well to clean off the surface. Afterwards, use a 10% bleach solution to disinfect the cleaned surfaces. Leave the solution on for a minimum of 10 minutes before rinsing or wiping the area. Once clean, use a fan to help it dry, and keep windows open all day if possible to help air circulate.

But after removing mold and you still smell the tell-tale musty odor of mold infestation, it is highly likely that mold has already grown inside the walls, ceiling, and other places you cannot see or reach. It is also worth mentioning that mold can exist on a microbial level, so if you have doubts in your ability to DIY the cleaning, do not wait to call in experts who will survey the extent of the damage and remedy it with the proper tools.


2. Rust

If your metal furniture has been soaked, you may not need to worry about corrosion if you are quick to wipe it completely dry. But in case rust is already apparent, there are several simple ways you can remove the discoloration yourself. One is by soaking the rusty metal item in white vinegar overnight and using steel wool or a metal brush to scrape it off. Another is by rinsing the item and shaking it dry, then covering the rusty areas with baking soda for an hour or so before scraping. Other solutions you can try are salt and lemon or citric acid dissolved in hot water.

Treating water damage caused by flooding MyProperty Philippines cleaning rust rusting oxidation lock padlock
Rusty lock. Photo via Depositphotos

If you are trying to clean a large item or a wide surface, use tools such as a paint scraper, steel wool, sandpaper, or power sander. If you want to use the sanding process, start with a rough grain paper to clean the rust away, then switch to a finer grain to avoid damaging the clean metal once you have sanded the rust off.

If the rust has stained other surfaces such as your floor or walls, wet the stain and use a wire brush to firmly scrub the surface. If the stain is hard to remove, use a cleaning product containing oxalic acid.


3. Flooring damage

Once flood water has subsided, damage to your floor will vary depending on the type of material used. But the first thing that must always be done is to remove whatever water is left to prevent further damage. Use a mop or rag to get into sides and corners where water may have pooled to help the flooring dry faster.

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Damaged wood flooring. Photo via Depositphotos

In their website, US cleanup and restoration company Tidal Wave Response recommends these tips for repairing flooring after a flood:

● If your flooring is made of wood, you will notice that it will begin to warp as it dries because it has absorbed water, but it will regain its shape. Use weights or shoring to reduce severe buckling or warping. Rapid drying can lead to splitting or cracking, so wood flooring must be dried steadily. Also, you can keep hardwood flooring from buckling by removing them to dry.
● Vinyl flooring and floor tiles would need to be removed to allow the subfloor—the bottom layer of the floor—to dry.
● Insulation and vapor barriers should also be removed from under the floor to promote air circulation.
● Avoid using heating or forced air like air conditioning to accelerate drying as this will cause floorboards to cup as outer surface dries out quicker.


4. Furniture damage (couch, cabinets, etc.)

Whatever furniture sits on the floor—couch, dining room table and chairs, bureau drawers—may have been submerged, so it is essential to take care of them fast. Mold can easily grow on them and make them a health hazard. They can also be further damaged if they dry as is and stick together or end up with warped surfaces.

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Scrubbing a couch clean. Photo via Depositphotos

Use a damp rag to wipe off surfaces that have been soiled by mud brought in by the water, then follow with a dry rag. At this point, your furniture may look clean and dry, but water may have gotten inside, so it is best to take them outdoors to dry even further. Be sure to disassemble them—remove drawers from cabinet, take cushions off the couch, etc.—before laying them outside to ensure all damp parts are exposed. However, keep them out of direct sunlight as it can warp the surface and make the color fade. Leather upholstery can also dry out and crack under excess heat.

Once completely dry, which may take several weeks or months depending on the size, furniture may then be waxed or refinished. However, if you see signs of mold and you cannot clean them off, toss the furniture out.


5. Appliance damage

In a guide on flood recovery of electric motors and appliances by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, there are four considerations to make when determining whether a submerged electric motor can be repaired successfully:
● the length of time the motor was underwater
● the age of the motor
● the type of bearings involved and their lubrication
● the contaminants in the flood water

Bring your appliance to a repair shop and get a quote. If the price of parts and labor combined is equal to or greater than the price of a new appliance, it would be prudent to just to get a replacement.

Treating water damage caused by flooding MyProperty Philippines appliances appliance washing machine repair cleaning
Repairing a washing machine. Photo via Depositphotos

In the meantime, you can prevent flood water from further damaging your appliances by cleaning them. Even if the appliance has been covered in mud and dirt, avoid hosing it down as you risk getting water in parts of the appliance that may not have been damaged by the flood. Use a common household cleaner and a wet cloth to clean the appliance, a disinfectant solution (one teaspoon of chlorine bleach per gallon of water) to rinse it, and a towel for drying.

Remember not to plug in the appliance even if it looks clean and dry on the outside. Wait a few days for it to be completely dry, or have it inspected first.



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