Floods are a mess. Water gets everywhere and cleanup can seem overwhelming. Once the water has stopped flowing and you’ve ensured the space is safe to enter, it’s time to ask, “what next?” The following are 4 steps you need to take to assess the damage and start cleanup:
- Categorize the Water
Flood water is divided into three categories. Category 1 water is clean and has come from an unpolluted source such as broken pipes or falling rain. Category 3 water is fully contaminated with hazardous substances such as human waste, chemicals, or bacteria. Category 2 water is in between; it’s not clean, but it’s not toxic either. It might have substances like urine or soap in it. Clearly identifying the category of water involved will inform your decisions about personal protective equipment and cleaning and sanitization.
- Address Porous Materials
Porous materials absorb water and can be permanently damaged after a flood. Your space is likely full of porous materials such as fabrics, carpets, insulation, and more. These items need to be removed from the space when possible and allowed to dry out. Keep in mind that wood, linoleum, drywall, and concrete are also porous and require attention following a flood. Some of these materials may have been damaged beyond repair and will require full removal and replacement.
- Dry the Area Out
Wet/dry vacs are the most effective tools for extracting water from the space. Towels and pumps can also help. But drying out the space doesn’t stop there; it’s also critical to remove the humidity and the unseen moisture to prevent rot, decay, and mold. Dehumidifiers, fans, and HVAC systems help, as do open doors and windows.
- Clean and Sanitize
Flooded areas need careful cleaning. Once the space is completely dry, cleaning can begin. The type of water involved dictates the cleaning methods and products required. For category 3 floods, it’s highly recommended that professional water removal experts be involved.