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How to Assess Floors, Walls, and Ceilings Impacted by Flood Water Damage

Aug 6, 2008
There is a lot of work to do in a house that has water damage caused by flooding. From the floors, to the walls, to the ceiling everything needs proper scrutiny. Be sure to wait to reenter the house until it is safe and most of the water has receded. Be sure that the structure of the house is sound before you go in to prevent the house or some part of it coming down on you.

When you can enter the house remember that the first priority is to dry everything out as quickly as possible. Get air circulating and run dehumidifiers if at all possible. Remove wet carpet and padding and discard them. Throw out mattresses and upholstered furniture that is water logged. Remove all the belongings so they can be dried and then sanitized. Put all wet books and papers in crates and freeze them to prevent mold damage until they can be dealt with at a later time.

Once all the basics are covered you can turn your attention to the house itself. This is when the restoration process begins. Start by washing all the dirt and debris off the walls and ceilings of the home. Begin on the top floor or the ceiling of the main floor depending on how high the water line is. After the basic cleaning is done remove the drywall affected by the water damage to at least a foot above the water line. Take out any wet insulation. Leave the exposed walls and ceilings to dry. This can take weeks to completely dry. Test the framing and studs with a moisture detector before new drywall is put in because anything that is not absolutely dry will grow mold and become a health hazard. Be sure to carefully wash all the walls, ceilings and framework with bleach to disinfect and to prevent mold growth.

While the inside of the house is still wet scrub the floors with brushes, detergents, and disinfectants along with plenty of clean water. Remove vinyl flooring and possibly tile flooring to let the sub floor dry completely. Dry the hardwood floors slowly to reduce the damage that will occur. If the floors dry too quickly the wood will buckle and shrink.

After the floors have dried it is time to decide if the floors can be repaired or if they need to be replaced. Plywood sub floors may have come apart. In this situation some or all of the plywood may have to be replaced. The sub floor has to be level so that flooring can be put down on top of it. If hardwood floors are not badly damaged they can be leveled by using a floor sander. If they are badly warped they will have to be replaced. It is imperative that the floors are completely dry before they are refinished. Once the sub floor has been dried or replaced new carpet can be installed, vinyl flooring put down, and tile glued and grouted. Floors take a beating when flooding and there is usually no choice but to put time and money into restoring them.
About the Author
Luana Pershing writes about water damage. Her insight is much appreciated by others due to her prior water damage experiences.
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