Excess moisture from storms or leaks can quickly destroy flooring and walls, creating the perfect environment for mold to thrive. For most homeowners, it is not a matter of if they will have water damage – it is a matter of when. Knowing how to handle this potentially devastating situation when it happens can save you and your possessions. Read below to find out what our readers recommend you do to protect your home from water damage.
Ron Leffler is a real estate broker serving the Northern Virginia area. His expertise as a listing agent lies in having a command for renovations and their impact on resale value. He has also spearheaded top-to-bottom remodeling projects including the one he lives in today with his wife and two kids. Find him at Ron Leffler Real Estate.
Preparing and Acting Quickly
In floods generated by storms, there is usually fair warning prior to the event. Something as simple as getting weather alerts on your phone can give you time to prepare accordingly. Moving items from potential flood areas is key. This [preparation] could mean moving cars, trucks, boats, RVs, and tractors down to plastic totes from the basement full of irreplaceable family mementos.
For homes and buildings built on grade, you’ll want to start with sandbagging entrances like doors and garages. Depending on the topography of the land, it may be more beneficial to create a larger barrier. After preparing, you’ll need to stay aware and have a method of notification.
For those physically present, this is pretty straightforward, but if you’re out of town, it could also be out of mind as well. Simple water alarms go off the moment a problem exists. More advanced water alarms can send alerts to your phone or even to your security monitoring service. It doesn’t need to be high-tech. A phone call from a neighbor is more than enough to jump into action as well.
The worst flood cases are the ones with slow responses. A water issue can quickly turn into a mold issue that can spread rapidly. You’ll need to remove the water as quickly as possible, especially from areas that retain water like basements and crawl spaces. Having the equipment on hand to do that is advisable, especially if the flooding is widespread and professional services are spread thin. You’ll need a pump and hose at the very least, but a working generator, fuel, and shop vac or water extraction tool are often just as important, especially in storm-related flooding.
Once the large quantities of water are gone, it’s time to dry out. For this [step], you want to move as much air as possible. Specialty air movers are preferred, as fans help remove moisture from building materials and into the air. Commercial dehumidifiers are best suited for removing that moisture from the air, but even consumer versions will help if the larger ones are not available. These steps are really critical in the first 24 to 48 hours before mold growth can really take hold. The fans and dehumidifiers need to be run 24/7 until the moisture is down to appropriate levels.
Despite best efforts, certain materials may not be salvageable. Carpet, trim, doors, drywall, and insulation are usually the first building materials to be removed should they be compromised. Hiring a water damage restoration company helps ensure the flood damage is dealt with quickly and professionally with commercial equipment. They have the tools to ensure water and mold are removed even when they are not visible. As important as it is to react quickly, documenting the damage and costs associated will help if an insurance claim is submitted.
Control and Eliminate Moisture from Your Home
Moisture is a threat because it can lead to the growth of mold, swelling of building materials, and damage to electronics. It can also exacerbate allergies and respiratory problems, especially in the warmer months. Even people who are healthy may experience difficulty breathing in homes that are too humid.
Poor ventilation is one of the most significant water/moisture threats in your home. Without proper ventilation, the water from daily activities like showering, cooking, and drying laundry can build up in your home. In addition, crawl spaces and attics that are not properly isolated can leak humid air and water into your home.
To prevent or eliminate these moisture threats in the warmer months, it’s important to make sure that your ceiling fans are set to summer rotation and are running. Also, make sure to install and use bathroom and kitchen ventilation fans to draw humid air out of those spaces. Additionally, you can choose types of windows that direct or deflect airflow.
To make sure crawl spaces are not causing extra moisture in your home, it’s important to check for water damage and install a vapor barrier over the interior walls and floor to seal out moisture.
Many of the steps to prevent moisture in your home can be done by the homeowner. However, if there are specific concerns, a professional could be consulted. For example, if there is moisture in a basement or crawl space, it can be a good idea to consult a basement waterproofing company.
Mitigate Your Flood Risk
There are various ways to mitigate flood damage, but frankly, the best way is to avoid having a flood in the first place. There are a number of excellent flood and water leak detectors on the market that can alert the user to everything from the smallest, hidden water leak to a burst pipe. Some will automatically shut the water off in case of a water leak event, but even the ones that don’t [will still send] an immediate notification before the damage from a water event becomes too extensive. Many will also offer you a choice of how you are alerted: by email, phone, or both. Being proactive and preemptive is, in my mind, the best way to ward off a flood before it ever happens.
Floodwalls and Seawalls
There are many ways to try and mitigate flooding in your town or even on your property if you are in a flood zone. Floodwalls and seawalls are used where the water rises most commonly along the seashores. Many towns erect floodgates and levees to hold back water, and most towns and cities prone to flooding post an evacuation route for the people living in those areas.
There are also non-structural measures to decrease damage by removing people and property out of the flood area. In areas with a high amount of flooding per year, homes can be built elevated to have the water go beneath them. There are property buyouts, permanent relocation of people and businesses, zoning changes, and building code changes.
Positive things can be done for flood-ravaged areas. Floodwater diversion and storage directs the water to wetlands and floodplains using pipes to bring the flood water into the canals. It allows the controlled release of the water. Floodplains and stream restructuring will mitigate bank erosion evenly. It stores stormwater runoff and decreases the number of floods and the severity of the ones that do come.
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