You don’t need to live near a body of water to be concerned about flooding in your home. You’ve got hundreds of gallons of water pumping through the pipes in your walls and floors. In fact, the most common form of household water damage is that caused by plumbing leaks and appliance failures (toilet flooding, a leaking refrigerator, burst plumbing pipes, etc).
When flooding occurs, the key to protecting your property is to act quickly and tackle the following ten steps:
1- Stop the flow of water: If the water is coming from an appliance or a plumbing pipe inside your home, use one of the main shutoff valves to cut all water flowing to the house. If the water is coming from outside your home, try to redirect the water elsewhere (if you don’t have sandbags, fill garbage bags full of dirt from your yard).
2- Turn off the electricity: When water comes into contact with electricity, it can electrocute anyone who touches the water.
3- Collect the water: Use any/all towels, sheets, and other linens to get water off the floors. If it’s draining from pipes or through ceilings, use buckets to contain it.
4- Gather valuables: Designate someone to gather all valuables while the others contain the flooding.
5- Wear protective gear: Put on rubber boots and gloves to protect yourself from polluted water.
6- Consider leaving the premises: If sewage or chemicals are in the water, live electrical wires are underwater, or the level of water is above your ankles, it’s best to evacuate the house.
7- Call for assistance: Call 911 if you need immediate medical assistance. Call your landlord if you’re a renter. Call your insurance company if you’re the owner of the home.
8- Document the damage: Once the situation is under control and everyone is out of danger, but before any major clean up or repair work begins, take photos of the damage done to your home, as well as any belongings damaged during the flooding. Your insurance company will want a record of this.
9- Start the restoration: Cleanup from flooding should begin within 24 hours. If the water soaked your sheetrock walls or the sub-flooring (the wood below your flooring), call a professional restoration company that specializes in water cleanups. If the damage is less extensive than that:
- Remove any water-soaked carpeting. Carpet is a breeding ground for mold.
- Quickly dry or discard cardboard and paper that was water-soaked to avoid mold infestation.
- Rent floor fans and use them to help dry the flooded area.
- Rent, borrow or buy a portable dehumidifier and use it in combination with the fans.
- Use a bleach solution to sanitize furniture and hard surfaces.
10- Watch for mold: Monitor walls, ceilings, floors, and belongings for the appearance of black spots. A musty smell is another sign of mold. Signs of mold exposure include itchy, watery eyes, runny/blocked nose, sore throat, sneezing, headaches and respiratory issues.
To respond promptly, you’ll need to know ahead of time where the main water and electricity shut-offs are located. This is something everyone who lives in your home should be shown as soon as possible. The main electrical panel is usually housed in a gray metal box attached to the wall in your basement, or in a utility closet. Typically, there’s one switch inside the box that cuts all power to all other switches. Most homes have two main water shutoffs. One is in a box in the ground in front of your home. And the other, typically, has a handle attached to a thick plumbing pipe inside your basement or utility closet.
Source: Windermere Home Update
Spring Maintenance Matters
The best way to avoid expensive, disruptive home repairs is to regularly inspect and address the areas prone to major problems. Giving the house a deep cleaning has become a springtime ritual. But if you really want to make a difference – and save yourself big money on future home repairs – take some time over the next couple of weeks to also assess these potential maintenance problems:
WATER LEAKS – Freezing winter weather can cause water pipe fittings to fracture. Turn off all the water on your property, then look at the main water meter (typically located under a metal or concrete lid near the street in front of your house). If the meter dial is moving – even a tiny bit – when all the water is turned off, it may mean a water pipe buried on your property, or hidden inside an interior wall, is leaking.
OLDER TREES – Large trees that have been growing in your yard for 35 years or more should be assessed every spring to ensure they aren’t prone to falling in a windstorm. Those with dead branches, soft spots and other unhealthy attributes should be professionally inspected by an arborist.
RODENTS – During winter, rats and mice look for warm places in and around your home to take shelter. Now is the time to take a close look at the places they like to hide (the attic, closed-off areas of the basement, behind the furnace and other appliances, in storage sheds and garages, etc). If you see any droppings, it’s time to take action.
GUTTERS AND DOWNSPOUTS – Venture out on a rainy day and look at the top and bottom of each downspout (the pipes attached to the side of your house that run vertically from your roof gutters to the ground below). Is rain water overflowing at the top? Is water pooling at the bottom? Are puddles forming next to your foundation? If so, don’t delay making any necessary repairs.
ROOF MOSS – When moss is allowed to grow on your roof, the burrowing roots can damage shingles and cause leaks. To check for these build-ups, keep your feet safely planted on the ground, and use binoculars to scan the room for clumps of green. Also look for signs of problematic wear: chipped or missing roof shingles.
WORN PAINT – If you wait until your house paint is peeling to put on a fresh coat, the labor costs will be far higher. Instead, compare a sunny side of your house to a side in near constant shade. If the difference in paint condition is dramatic, it’s time to get bids from painters.
Use the tips and suggestions above as a checklist, and you’ll be motivated to tackle these tasks before all the distracting sun and fun of summer arrives.
Source: Windermere Real Estate Home Update April 2017.