Floods are generally caused by prolonged heavy rainfall. Flooding occurs when ponds, lakes, riverbeds, soil, and vegetation cannot absorb all of the water.
Rising water overflows the natural boundaries of bodies of water, and flows across the ground as surface runoff picking up all kinds of contamination.
The water can be contaminated with soil bacteria, decaying insects, animal droppings, oils and fluids from roadways, and fertilizers and pesticides from fields or gardens.
After a secure building envelope is established during the board-up phase, water removal and drying wet surfaces is the next step. Due to the presence of water, fire restoration and water damage are related. All of the primary and secondary challenges associated with water damage can be found in a fire restoration project.
Examples are degradation of structural components, corrosion of metallic surfaces and mold growth. An added complication is that waterborne smoke odor may penetrate deeply into porous materials.
Flood Water Saturation
Water saturation affects a building in three ways:
1. Water causes direct damage to materials. Wallboard disintegrates; wood can swell, warp, or rot; electrical parts can short out, malfunction, and cause fires or shock.
2. Mud, silt, and unknown contaminants in the water get everything dirty and are unhealthy. Flood water is more damaging than rainwater.
3. Dampness promotes the growth of moisture related mold, mildew, and fungus that leads to dry rot.
Flooding normally occurs where streams, rivers or other drainage channels cannot cope with the amount of water that is flowing into them during periods of higher than normal rainfall, and the water breaks or overspills the banks. This is known as surface water flooding.
There are a number of reasons for why a basement could flood. Broken pipes, sewage backups, and surface or groundwater runoff are the most common causes. If you discover that your basement has flooded, don’t try to do anything yourself in order to be safe from electrocution and contamination in the water. Call a water damage restoration company to ensure proper and safe handling of the situation. Damage restoration technicians are equipped with respirators and proper personal protective equipment for safety.
During a flood, if electricity is available you can place fans in windows blowing air out of the house. This can start the drying process by removing some moisture from the air. If there is mold or other contaminants present, doing this isn’t recommended. It is impossible to dry a structure without dehumidification. Air alone will not dry a water damaged structure.
90% of jobs that start as water damage will have mold growth after 72 hours of being wet. This could change the category of loss from Category 1 (clean water), to Category 3 (unsanitary). Our number one job is to keep the customer safe during the flood drying, mold remediation, or sewage cleanup process.
Basement Flooded Basement Process
The first step in the flooded basement cleanup process is removing the water. A professional-grade pump is used to remove all of the standing water. Water is then extracted with a flood water extraction machine. Once the water has been removed, an anti-microbial agent is sprayed to control contamination.
After that removal of all porous and semi-porous materials as well as storage of all salvageable content is then moved to a safe clean area. Containment is set up to prevent spreading contamination to clean areas of the structure. Once containment is in place, negative air machines with HEPA air filters are set up and unsalvageable building materials are removed. Once contamination levels are safe, air is introduced into the drying process.
Inspection of all electrical components takes place before starting the drying process. If electricity in the property is unsafe, electricity will be provided through a portable generator. Dehumidifiers, negative air machines, and air movers are set up and left in the structure until a dry standard of 8-12% is reached.
Wet structures need to hit their dry standard before any repairs start otherwise mold growth will occur. Air should never be moved until all contaminants have been removed from the job site and contamination levels are safe. Otherwise, this risks spreading contamination to clean areas of the home.
Flooded Basement Tips
The IICRC offers these tips to clean up after floods:
Use Caution When Entering Buildings
Make sure electrical power is off and the structure is sound before entering and inspecting a flooded building. Small animals or reptiles may also seek shelter inside a structure, so be cautious when repositioning contents or removing materials.
Wear an organic vapor respirator, along with rubber gloves, eye protection and protective clothing. Ventilate affected areas by opening windows, and eventually, by placing a fan in a window. Work toward the fan as you clean to minimize cross contamination.
Fabrics May Be Salvageable
Machine washing, including at least a 10-minute soak in detergent and hot water, should remove most contamination and stains.
Open Pockets of Saturation
Remove base molding and portions of damaged walls and wet insulation. Locate the water line and measure 15 inches to 20 inches above it. Everything below that should be removed and discarded. Flooring, such as hardwood, laminate or sheet vinyl, should be removed to expose pockets of saturation underneath for cleaning, sanitizing and drying.
Wall cavities and exposed durable materials (studs, joists) should be cleaned by pressure washing with detergent solutions. After thoroughly cleaning and flushing salvageable materials, apply a disinfectant solution liberally. A water mold removal technician may be needed to perform this service safely and effectively.
Prevent Mold Growth
Although it takes a few days to appear, mold thrives in a moist environment with organic material (e.g., paper or particle board), and temperatures between 68°F and 86°F. Keep air moving and maintain moderate temperatures.
Dry Out Before You Rebuild
To prevent dry rot and on-going structural damage, don’t reconstruct or cover wood materials until its moisture content falls below 16 percent. Moisture meters are available online, but it may be best to hire a water mold removal technician to confirm proper drying before reconstruction.
Consider Hiring A Professional
A professional water damage restoration company has trained technicians, specialized cleaners and antimicrobial agents, and extraction, drying, dehumidifying and moisture measuring equipment.