How to Dry Out a Flooded House
House floods happen, and they don’t just happen to people who live in hurricane corridors or on swamplands. Flash flood conditions can crop up anywhere, due to burst pipes or unforeseen natural disasters, and homeowners should be ready to react at the drop of the hat.
But even if you invest in flood insurance and develop an action plan in the event of flooding, there’s still the messy business of cleaning up to attend to. Cleaning up a home after a flood has torn through it isn’t easy, fun, or quick, but it can at least be efficient and safe.
Follow this step-by-step guide to drying out a flooded house, followed by an FAQ, from All Dry USA.
1. Wear Personal Protective Equipment
Flood water may look clear, but it’s anything but. Floods mix with sewage, groundwater, chemical cleaning products, gasoline, and more. They can also tear down power lines and other electrical lines and become electrified.
Test the safety of the water before stepping in (ideally by being given the all-clear from the emergency services), and always equip yourself with these essentials before getting your hands dirty:
- Rubber Gloves
- Waterproof Boots
- An N95 Respirator Mask
- Safety Glasses
Also, of course, make sure to regularly sanitize your hands.
2. Pump Out the Water
If there is standing water in your house, the quicker you get it out the better. The longer it sits on top of your foundation and against your baseboards, the higher likelihood you’ll sustain irreversible water damage. Standing water is also a breeding ground for mosquitos.
For water removal, there are three tiers of equipment that correspond to three levels of seriousness:
- A gas-powered sump pump, for three inches or more of standing water.
- A wet/dry vac, for one-to-three inches of water.
- A good old bucket and mop, for less than an inch of water.
3. Document the Damage
Before any damage remediation takes place, document the damage for insurance purposes.
Document the flooding before you remove the water. Make sure your claims can be backed up by photographic evidence.
4. Provide Ventilation
Don’t open as many windows as you can, but strategically open windows to encourage a cross breeze. Enhance the flow of that breeze with standing fans. The closer to industrial grade, the better.
Keep the ventilation going all day, overnight, and all through the cleaning process. You can’t dry out a house too much.
5. Sort Through, Throw Away, or Treat Affected Items
This will be the most time-consuming part of the process. Now that the affected space is drying, go through all the objects that the floodwater touched – furniture, books, rugs, plants – and inspect them.
Move the unsalvageable items to the front lawn, or anywhere outside the interior of the house, and keep them safe until an insurance adjuster can inspect them.
Everything else that you’re either keeping or on the fence about you can move to a dry room that doesn’t require treatment. FEMA has a great set of guidelines for how to treat flood-affected items.
6. Treat Mold
Mold remediation is an art and isn’t always advisable on a DIY basis. The basics of mold remediation are a lot like drying out a house. Removal of water, detection and stopping the leak, intense dehumidification, and physically scrubbing the mold off affected surfaces.
But like mosquitos, mold is extremely hard to get rid of. Wherever there is moisture, so the saying goes, mold will follow. Often, homeowners will think they’ve rid a space of mold and mildew only to start coughing and find a tiny patch has held onto the back of a couch or within the vents.
If you want to make sure mold is completely stopped in its tracks after a house flood, call a mold remediation specialist.
7. Long Term Dehumidification
After deep-cleaning all the different surfaces of the affected area with the proper mixtures – bleach, vinegar, lemon juice, or other household cleaning products – you need to create a long-term dehumidification plan.
An easy and trustworthy way to automate the process is to buy a dehumidifier. Dehumidifiers wick the moisture out of the arrow through a process of slow air intake, raking moisture-filled air across a comb of ice-cold coils, and depositing that newly condensed moisture into a storage trough.
Leave the dehumidifier running for a few days/up to a week, changing out the trough regularly, and you should be good to go.
Frequently Asked Questions
How to Save a Wet Book?
The logistical challenge of drying a soaking wet book is twofold: that books are made of hundreds of individual pages which must be treated, and that books are printed with ink which is likely to run after contact with water.
In order to save a wet book, you must:
- Wipe down the book top to bottom with an absorbent rag.
- Place the book upright to dry on a towel and blow a hairdryer into the pages just until they start to get warm.
- Place napkins, paper towels, and thin rags between the pages.
- Make sure the book is resting in the shape you want it to dry into, and let it dry.
How to Dry a Wet Mattress?
Mattresses are extremely hard to dry when waterlogged simply because they’re so massive and hard to maneuver. Don’t bother with trying to dry a mattress that has been wet for more than a day and a half. Chances are, mold has already begun to grow on the inside, and you’ll never get it out.
But for a recently soaked mattress, follow these steps:
- Blot every surface with an absorbent towel.
- Apply as much pressure as possible to the top and bottom of the mattress using another absorbent towel to force the moisture out.
- Run over the mattress multiple times with a wet vac.
- Leave it out in the sun to dry.
How to Dry a Wet Carpet?
To dry out a wet carpet, follow these steps, which are quite similar to the steps to dry out a house:
- Extract all the water you can from the carpet with a wet vac.
- Spot dry the carpet with absorbent towels.
- Pull the carpet up and replace the padding, or under-carpeting, as it’ll likely never dry on its own beneath the carpet.
- Air dry using fans for several hours or even days.
How To Dry Out Walls?
Drying walls is best left to natural ventilation. Though walls don’t retain much moisture, they are a ripe source of mold. Follow these steps to dry out walls:
- Identify and stop the cause of the saturation.
- Drain excess water that may have accumulated.
- Begin the removal of damaged areas.
- Thoroughly ventilate the affected location.
How Long Does It Take To Dry Out Water Damage?
Each house is different, but a good rule of thumb is that a house should dry out of its water damage in between one and two weeks. Emphasis on should.
You have to do everything humanly possible to aid the remediation of water damage, or else you’ll be spending a good amount of each week remediating something far worse: mold.
There are several drying aids you should employ after you’ve followed steps 1-6 of our guide. Drying aids include industrial-grade room fans, dehumidifiers, and high-powered wet/dry vacuums.
The key to drying out a house is consistency. Once you start treating the house, don’t let your foot off the gas until you’re sure every trace of moisture is gone, or you’ll soon be dealing with a mold problem.
Call in the Pros
Drying out a house and returning it to a safe, comfortable, and usable condition isn’t easy, but it is possible.
If the task seems too gargantuan for one, it’s because frankly, it is.
Don’t hesitate to call the professionals at All Dry USA.
All Dry USA has 24/7 local response teams in five states and employs an award-winning team of experts in water damage, mold remediation, fire and smoke damage, and so much more.
Our company is certified, insured, and ready to take on any repair, no matter how big, small, or complicated. Get in touch now!
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