My House Flooded, Now What.
If you got any flood water in your house, these are the things you need to consider and take action accordingly.
1. Did carpet get wet? If so, the carpet needs to be pulled from the floor because the padding underneath the carpet is soaked with water and it will be very difficult to dry out that padding with the carpet sitting on it. The padding should be thrown away because if it’s soaked, there’s no way you can pull it off the floor without tearing it. You won’t be able to dry it out and put it back down. New carpet padding will need to be put back down after floors are cleaned. Some people think they can just vacuum up the water out of the carpet without pulling the carpet but you’ll never get all the water out and mold will grow under your carpet and padding.
2. I’ve been asked if carpet can be removed, cleaned and put back down after its dry. If it’s only a small section of carpet, then maybe but if a whole room or the whole house got carpet flood damage, I don’t think it will be possible to clean the carpet and put it back down. The carpet has to be removed anyway to get the padding out and if you’re going to put it back exactly the way you pulled it out, it would have to be removed in the large pieces that fill a room and it will be very heavy to carry out of the house when it is wet. It would take many guys to roll the carpet up in large sections and carry it out of the house. And even if you could do this, there is virtually no way to clean the carpet top and bottom side to disinfect it, dry it out effectively, and then put it back down. Remember that anything that the flood water touches HAS to be disinfected to get rid of the bacteria and other contaminants potentially from the sewer.
3. Was the water more than 1” deep in your house? If so, then it is likely that the bottom of the sheet rock and the insulation behind your sheetrock got wet. The base boards will have to be removed and the molding around the door frames as well. The sheet rock should be removed so the wet insulation can be taken out, thrown away, and replaced. There’s no way to dry out the insulation and reuse it after it’s gotten wet. Even if you only got a couple inches of water in your house, the sheet rock and insulation will be damaged and needs to be cut out. Sheet rock and insulation is like paper or a sponge in the sense that it sucks water into it. The water will wick up vertically from the floor into the sheet rock and insulation sometimes several inches above the level that the water got in your house. Some people try to cut out a foot of sheet rock from the floor up all the way around the bottom of your house but that will take a lot of work to cut out the sheet rock evenly at the same height all the way around your house. Sheet rock is laid down so whether the builder used 4x8 ft sheets or 4x10 ft sheets or 4x12 ft sheets, the top of the sheet rock is only 4 ft up from your floor. This makes it easy to fix sheet rock in flood conditions because you don’t have to cut but simply need to pull the sheet rock off the wall studs from the ground up until you reach the 4 ft line. You should be able to do this by hand or with a hammer or pry bar and as you pull the bottom sheet off, you will see that it pulls away pretty cleanly from the top sheet which goes higher on your wall.
4. You will want to vacuum up as much of the water in your house with a wet vacuum to get your floor as dry as possible. Ceramic tiles are ok to keep because they are not damaged by the water but most wood floors get water under them and probably need to be pulled to dry the water out from underneath. Use box fans on the floor to blow air around the house as much as possible. Keep all windows and doors closed so humidity from outside does not come in. Run your A/C as much as possible to keep air moving through your house. The best thing to do is set your A/C on a temp as low as will keep it running all the time. If you have a dehumidifier to help dry the air out, run it as much as possible. This really helps to suck the moisture out of the air and the drier the air is, the quicker the moisture from the floor will evaporate. Even the wood frame absorbs water so the sooner you get the wet floors pulled up, the base boards and door molding removed, the sheet rock and insulation removed, the sooner the wood can start to dry out. If you wait more than a couple days, mold can start to grow behind the walls and that’s very difficult to clean so you need to act quickly.
5. What to do about walls behind bathroom or kitchen cabinets. If you have insurance, likely your insurance will replace the cabinets so it’s best to take the floor cabinets out so the sheet rock and insulation behind them can be removed and everything will dry out nice. If you do not have insurance and can’t afford to replace your cabinets, you will still need to dry out the walls behind the cabinets as much as possible. You should consider pulling the cabinets out away from the way and removing sheet rock and insulation and after everything is dry and the walls are repaired, you can move the cabinets back.
6. The key is to get your house as dry as possible so mold can’t grow. Air movement, cold air is better for evaporation than warm air, dehumidify the air, and get everything wet out of the house.