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What to do if you have flood.

Immediate action.

Contact your insurance company immediately. Most insurance companies employ loss adjusters to help you to process your claim. Get them involved immediately as they will need some time to get all the details right. Normally this process is pretty smooth but it can be a drawn out affair depending on the amount of damage to the sub floor or the type of floor covering.

Carpets.

Carpets may be salvageable if the flood is clean water, and also the underlay, if it is dealt with instantly, these would need to be completely removed for drying out purposes, although replacement may be a better option depending on the condition of the carpet/underlay. Rubber backed carpet, floor tiles and vinyl floor coverings are moisture barriers, and therefore removal is essential to allow the sub floor to dry.

Where black or dirty water is involved disposal may be the only option as cleaning may not remove all the contaminates and cause a health hazard.

Solid wood flooring and tiles can be salvaged but will need specialist help with sub floor ventilation and drying. Many cheaper laminated floors are based on MDF and will not survive even the slightest amount of water; this would have to be replaced.

To dry out a flooded hard wood floor

  •  Wash the floor with fresh water it is coated with contaminates (mud, silt etc.)
  • Clean the floor boards using a stiff brush with a mixture of detergent disinfectant and water to completely remove all traces of contaminates from between boards and in the corners.
  •  Remove any insulation from under the floor and remove any ventilation covers to ensure maximum air circulation. Do not use heaters or air conditioners to speed the drying as this may cause the wood to split and crack.
  • Weights or shoring should be placed on the floors to discourage warping and buckling. If some boards do warp, wait until the floor is completely dry before replacing them as drying may help to straighten them.
  •  Open all windows to allow natural ventilation and evaporation; it is essential that wood floors dry gradually.

Water damage

Water damage can require different restoration techniques dependent upon the classification, there are three categories.

Contents from clean or grey water floods can generally be salvaged if controls and works are put into place immediately where this not achieved category 1 and 2 incidents can quickly escalate into a class 3 with bio amplification.

Get rid of as much water as you can.  Use wet-dry vacuums, pumps and mops. Sweep and mop out the silt and mud left behind. Sanitize every surface that came in touch with the flood water using a combination of one cup chlorine bleach per gallon of cleaning water. Allow 10 to 15 minutes before wiping it off.

Drying out

Depending on how serious the flooding has been and the type of building materials, drying out could take weeks or months. You can use your gas or central heating to help dry out the house once the heating system has been checked by a qualified engineer. For best results the temperature should be set at between 20-22 degrees centigrade. If using heaters be careful as the evaporation may rise and condense in areas that were previously unaffected with may cause unnecessary extra damage. Use dehumidifiers properly.

If you have electricity use large fans, pair the swift-moving air with large heaters to dry the house. Don't use fuel-fired heaters, which produce moisture.

You can speed up the drying process by keeping the building well ventilated by opening as many windows and doors as possible. Good ventilation is essential as moisture must escape from the building in order for it to dry out, so keep the doors and windows open on dry days and ajar on wet days. However, if you use a dehumidifier to remove water from the air in your home, you will need to keep external doors and windows shut.

If your property has suspended wooden floors lift some boards to allow any water present to be removed , this can be done by using a pump or draining through air bricks or by cutting holes in the wall but do not do this without professional advice.

Concrete floors in particular can hold moisture for months so special procedures are required to speed up moisture removal. This will require vacuum pumps, not wet vacs, air movement or forced ventilation with controls. Concrete floors can take up to a month per inch of thickness to dry and it is important to ensure it is “DRY” before floor coverings are reapplied to prevent damage or mould.

Any wall covering must be removed, the plaster may be salvageable however a heath check for contaminates is recommended after drying out.

Cavity walls and plasterboard walls present difficulties in drying and an inspection is required to ensure the drying procedure is complete. Mould and rot problems will occur if the walls have not been dried correctly.

Solid wood furniture may survive, but chipboard and MDF will swell and distort, meaning it will have to be replaced. Contact your insurer immediately but remember it is your responsibility to mitigate the damage as much as possible.

The best root cause and effect / against process to follow.


Your insurer should pay for the professional restoration of you property after flood damage. However if procedures and monitoring are unsatisfactory; damage to the structure or contents of your property is possible. Typically mould, rot and condensation can result in loss or damage which as a subsequence of poor workmanship may not be recoverable from insurers.

Talk to your insurer if you feel that your contractor is not competent. A plan of the work, the expected results and estimated time for completion should be provided. You may have redress for invisible sub standard work, for a period of up to 20 years after the event.

Latent Damage

  • After a flood or water damage, some water damage may be difficult to see or may manifest later as latent damage. It is of course essential to ensure that the building is dry and sanitised before renovation is undertaken.
  • You may need special equipment to measure moisture content and professional help may be your best route especially where you have doubts.

If it goes wrong and buildings haven‘t been dried properly, the following indicators may be useful:

Buckling

Buckling is when the hardwood boards pull away from the subfloor and is usually the result of extensive flooding in the area. Buckled flooring has to be completely replaced.

Cupping

Cupping is when the centre of the board dips with the edges raised around it, similar to the shape you make when cupping your hands. This is the result when the wood at the bottom of the board contains more moisture than the wood at the top. It is usually extreme humidity that causes this problem. The board may return to normal once you have eliminated the source of the moisture, however it will be more likely need sanding and refinishing.

Crowning

Crowning is the opposite of cupping and occurs when the wood at the top contains more moisture than the wood at the bottom. This can be caused by leaking plumbing or condensation from faulty appliances, unattended spills can also cause crowning. It is important to eliminate the cause of the moisture as soon as possible, only then can you determine what repairs are needed.


You can get more information from the following sources.

Association of British Insurers http://www.abi.org.uk/
National Flood Forum http://www.floodforum.org.uk/
www.ciria.org.uk/flooding