Preventing Mold After A Flood
If you’re trying to clean up a flooded house, be aware that you’re in a race against mold and bacteria, which can grow quickly in damp environments. Mold is especially dangerous for people with breathing problems caused by allergies or asthma. But high levels of mold can also cause problems for people who are relatively healthy. Symptoms of mold exposure include wheezing, shortness of breath, sore throats, flu-like aches and pains, and fatigue.
You have 24 to 36 hours to clean up after a flood to prevent mold and bacteria development. If you already have water in your home you’ll want to follow these tips to dry your walls and furnishings:
- Turn off the electricity. Water, electricity, and human skin do not play nice together, please steer clear and turn off the electricity to your home before proceeding into the flooded area. Since it may be dark, you’ll want to have a high powered battery operated flashlight. New LED versions give you ample lumens and are priced affordably.
- Using a gas-powered water pump, pump the water out of the area. The water pump will probably leave a little standing water on your floor, but will allow you to get back into your home. You can then try to fix your sump pump and have it pump the remainder of the water out or you can use a wet/dry vac to pump the water out. Remember to remove your vac’s filter if it has one as it’s not made to get wet and will be ruined by the water.
- Remove all your wet items. This is painful, but necessary. Move everything out of your house that is wet to a dry location. Your garage or even your driveway to dry out will work out best. You’ll want to clear up ample space for the next few steps. Recruit help from friends and family for this step as you’ll be moving furniture and/or loads of boxes; either way you’ll probably have a lot to carry and help will get the job done quicker (you only have 48 hours).
- Clean the walls and floor. Use warm soapy water and clean the walls and floors, be sure to give them a good scrub down to remove any dirt and grime. If you have soaking wet carpet, you’ll want to pull it up and let it dry separate by moving it in the garage or outside. You’ll also need to pull up the padding as well, since it acts like a huge sponge and holds a lot of water. Create a tent with the carpets and pads to help air travel over both sides.
- Get the air moving and remove excess moisture. Once all the water is removed from the house you’ll need to produce some airflow to remove the excess moisture. Industrial blowers work the quickest, but if you are tight on money, then you can use fans, but they need to be powerful and close to the floor. You’ll also want to get a dehumidifier working to wick the excess moisture from the air. Be sure to change your dehumidifier pan regularly, as a flooded home will create a lot of air moisture and the pan will fill quickly.
- Look for mold and return your items to the house. After a few days you know if you have mold either by seeing or smelling it. You’ll want to hit any moldy areas with a bleach solution to kill the spores. Once you complete that step you can have your carpets re-installed and you’ll want to rent a carpet cleaner to clean them as well. Then bring your furniture and other belongings back to the house.
- Keep a dehumidifier and air cleaner in the house. The dehumidifier will keep moisture levels in check by creating a dry environment that naturally prevents mold. A HEPA air cleaner will grab any residual spores and other allergens and filter them out of the air. These two devices will ensure your home is a dry, cozy, and comfortable space for the entire family to enjoy.
It is also always recommended to get professional help because you may be too late on the inside. There are many experts to help you recover your belongings after a flood.