If you are trying to clean up a house that has been inundated, say, following a flood you need to be aware that there are special steps to flood damage cleaning , be aware that you are in a race against bacteria and mold, which tend to grow quickly in damp environments. Mold is particularly dangerous for people with breathing problems like asthma or allergies, although high mold levels can also pose problems for those who are relatively healthy. Mold exposure symptoms include fatigue, flu-like symtoms such as aches and pains, sore throats, shortness of breath, and wheezing.
Mold, however, is not the only threat following flooding as bacteria may also pose a problem, especially if your home was soaked by sewage (bacteria can cause skin and gastrointestinal infections). This is why it is vital to stop these pathogens, preferably in the first 24 to 36 hours, before they overrun your home. The quicker you act, the more of your property may be able to salvage.
DIY Cleanup vs. Calling in the professionals The first thing that you need to do following flooding is to soak up or extract any standing water. If there are several feet of water in your basement where electrical circuitry and fuse boxes may be submerged, it is advisable to call in emergency professionals to clear the space before getting to work. But if you have too much water on your property, hiring qualified and trained help can be a good investment since restoration companies have all the required heavy equipment (e.g. dehumidifiers and fans) that is needed to dry out a place quickly. You may also need professionals if your house or business is flooded with sewage, which is characterized by a pungent smell. Sewage is potentially hazardous and is best handled by a well-trained professional.
Getting up and running · Begin by hauling wet items, especially plush items such as curtains, upholstered furniture, or pillows, out of the house to somewhere like the driveway or garage where they can dry.
· Next, use a vacuum to suck excess water out of water soaked carpets.
· While fans may be beneficial in moving air through enclosed spaces, they may not be enough. Therefore, consider buying or renting a dehumidifier in order to keep moisture levels low in the rooms that you are trying to dry. Big areas and basements may need larger, commercial-sized apparatus to get as much air movement and heavy vacums as possible over wet areas.
· Remove molding and baseboards from flooded walls, especially those fashioned from sheetrock. The reason behind this is that regardless of the amount of air you put on them, baseboards can prevent the lower few inches of wet walls from drying out completely.
· Alternatively, you can cut small openings along the walls bases so as to let in air to dry the front as well as the back of the sheetrock.
Once mold has taken over
If your power supply is off for more then a few days, then it is likely that mold may already have gotten the upper hand by the time you begin your cleanup. At this juncture, experts recommend bringing in trained professionals to clean up mold covering a 10-foot-by-10-foot area or more than 100 square feet. Some states require professionals cleaning up mold to be licensed, anyone you hire should, at the minimum, have the necessary experience getting rid of mold, have liability insurance, and have reliable references you can call.
If you are cleaning a relatively smaller area, you can simply wash the mold off most hard surfaces with a mixture of hot water and detergent. And unless there are special circumstances (e.g. someone living in the home has weakened immune function), the EPA does not recommend using either chloride bleach or other biocides to clean up mold.
If you settle on bleach to clean up mold, the CDC recommends a solution of one cup of bleach to every gallon of water used. Also, be careful not to mix it with either ammonia or cleaners containing ammonia.
Toss or save?
The Center for Healthy Housing recommends discarding the following items if they smell or look moldy or have been under water:
· Upholstered furniture · Rugs, carpets, carpet padding · Books and papers · Window A/C units, microwaves, computers, or any other appliances that may have been waiting in moldy rooms · Food items that may have come into contact with flood waters.
Items that can be cleaned and consequently saved include: · Wood furniture (even if moldy) so long as it is in good condition · Non-porous, hard items such as metal, porcelain, glass, jewelry, china, and dishes · Books, photographs, and important legal documents with small levels of mold · Textiles, artwork, or clothing with no physical damage · Some small appliances and electronics, depending on flooding conditions.