6 flood cleanup tips for homeowners

In a flood's aftermath, water can cause serious damage to your personal items and severely compromise the structure of your house. No less overwhelming is the flood restoration process, which requires your time, patience, and utmost caution. Here, you'll find some tips on how to safely remove flood water so you can get your life back on track sooner than later.

contact your homeowners insurance company

Although a typical homeowners insurance policy doesn't cover damage caused by flooding, you may be financially protected for certain hazards resulting from a flood, like property theft or a house fire. So even if you're unsure about whether the damage is covered, it's still wise to contact your insurance company immediately just in case.

Moreover, water damage extending from a burst pipe, busted sump pump, or leaky roof are included in most home insurance policies. If you're a policyholder with Esurance, don't hesitate to reach out to us at 1-800-ESURANCE (1-800-378-7262), where our licensed agents are available at these times to address any of your insurance questions or concerns.

safety before entering the home

It's important to wait for authorities to give you the go-ahead before you re-enter your home. If there's any chance that parts of the house will collapse, then don't go in. What's more, a door that's jammed could mean it's holding up the ceiling, so don't force it open.

Refrain from using any open flames (matches, lighters) in case gas is trapped inside. If you smell any gas or hear a hissing sound, open a window and vacate the premises immediately.

Be on the lookout for electrical shock hazards and any hidden sharp objects. And while this may sound like something out of Jumanji, look out for any critters taking refuge in your home — there's a good chance theirs has been flooded too.

flood cleanup: 6 useful tips

Water damage after a flood can be more stressful than the flood itself, but the more you know about it, the more efficiently you'll be able to address it. Before commencing water remediation and flood cleanup, make absolutely sure electrical power is disconnected, and don't turn it on again until it's been inspected by a professional electrician. Additionally, wear protective clothing, such as goggles, heavy work gloves, watertight boots with steel toes, and even a hard hat.

These tips will help you safely remove water, clean up the remaining mess, and minimize damage to your home — a huge step towards restoring your quality of life as you once knew it.

1. Remove remaining water.

If your home has one, basement cleanup will likely be your first order of business. Once flood water levels have receded, begin pumping out the basement in phases — about one-third of the water's volume per day — because rapid changes in pressure could cause structural damage or collapse. If your sump pump is damaged, you might be able to rent one from your local hardware store.

In lieu of electrical power, good old-fashioned squeegees, towels, and mops should work just fine. And provided the sewers in your neighborhood are still operable, you should be able to pour water waste down the drain, but if not, use the lawn, gravel, or any other permeable surface.

In some cases, water restoration may be too overwhelming to take on by yourself, in which case you may want to reach out to an emergency water extraction or water damage company.

2. Shovel out the mud.

Shovel, scrape, scrub, and remove mud from the walls, floors, and furniture before it starts to dry. Then, using either a garden sprayer or hose, wash away remaining mud from hard surfaces, starting from the ceiling on down. If you can, use a spray attachment with soaps or detergents for a thorough cleanse and rinse.

3. Disinfect all surfaces touched by flood water.

Flood waters can leave behind bacterial contamination brought up through sewer lines. For this reason, use hot water with a good disinfectant or sterilizer to remove any bacteria from wood surfaces, walls, or non-upholstered furniture that might've gotten soaked in the flood.

Major appliances like stoves or fridges should also be washed and dried off. If they were shutoff before the flood hit, there's a slight chance they may still be in good working condition, but once again, don't turn them back on until it's safe to do so (i.e. once an electrician has inspected your electrical system).

4. Bring household items and furniture outside to clean.

Take upholstered furniture, linens, and clothing outside as soon as possible to dry. Scrape off any existing mildew outside so that spores don't collect in the house. Allow air to circulate throughout the house by opening windows, and if possible, employing fans and dehumidifiers. Because damp and moldy items present a breeding ground for germs, dispose of unsalvageable items as soon as possible.

Wash mud off books, photographs, or important paper documents carefully and slowly. You can put the articles in a plastic bag and store them in a frost-free freezer to prevent mildew growth, after which you may want to take them to a professional cleaning service.

5. Pull up rugs and carpeting.

Discard any carpets that have been covered in sewage water. For carpets and rugs that may be salvageable, hang them outside and hose them down. To minimize carpet mold and mildew, consider using a solution of one gallon water and 2 tablespoons bleach (except for nylon or wool rugs).

6. Clean off heating and cooling ducts.

To prevent air contamination later on down the road, it's important that you remove heating and cooling ducts (and grille plates) to give them a thorough cleaning outside. If ducts are concrete or inaccessible, they'll need to be cleaned by a professional.

safeguard your abode on all fronts with reliable coverage from esurance

An Esurance policy offers financial protection against a multitude of perils, including water backup, hailstorm damage, windstorm damage, lightning strikes, smoke damage, theft and vandalism, civil upheavals, and more.

When you get your fast, free homeowners insurance quote today, be sure to check out our other coverages that come standard on an Esurance policy, like family liability insurance in case you're sued by an injured guest, and additional living expense coverage for temporary housing in the event of catastrophe. You can also give us an old-fashioned call at 1-866-439-5633, where our licensed agents are here at these times to help and answer any of your questions.

And if you live in a high-risk flood zone, make sure you get a free quote for flood insurance underwritten by the National Flood Insurance Program.

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