Category Archives: Floods

Everything you ever wanted to know about floods: why they happen, where they happen, and what to do about them. Be sure to also check out our blog posts on water damage.

If you experience a flood in your home, contact us for your flood restoration needs immediately. Our services are available throughout Southern California. We also offer commercial flood restoration services.

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Cleaning Up After a Flood

 

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A Description of Typical House Flood Damages and Cleanup Requirements:

When your house floods, the water can wreak havoc on the structure of the house, your personal belongings, and the health of the inside environment. Flood waters contain many contaminants and lots of mud. High dollar items can get ruined all at once, even with just an inch of water, for example: carpeting, wallboard, appliances, and furniture. A more severe storm or deeper flood may add damage to even more expensive systems, like: ducts, the heater and air conditioner, roofing, private sewage and well systems, utilities, and the foundation.

After a flood, cleaning up is a long and hard process. Here is a list of common techniques for sanitizing and cleaning flooded items:

  • First things first: call your insurance agent. If your insurance covers the damage, your agent will tell you when an adjuster will contact you. List damage and take photos or videotape as you clean. You’ll need complete records for insurance claims, applications for disaster assistance and income tax deductions.
  • Contaminated mud
    Shovel out as much mud as possible, then use a garden sprayer or hose to wash away mud from hard surfaces.
  • Clean and disinfect every surface. Scrub surfaces with hot water and a heavy-duty cleaner. Then disinfect with a solution of 1/4 cup chlorine bleach per gallon of water or a product that is labeled as a disinfectant to kill germs.
  • In the kitchen
    • Immerse glass, porcelain, china, plastic dinnerware and enamelware for 10 minutes in a disinfecting solution of 2 tablespoons of chlorine bleach per gallon of hot water. Air-dry dishes. Do not use a towel.
    • Disinfect silverware, metal utensils, and pots and pans by boiling in water for 10 minutes. Chlorine bleach should not be used in this case because it reacts with many metals and causes them to darken.
    • Cupboards and counters need to be cleaned and rinsed with a chlorine bleach solution before storing dishes.
  • Furniture and household items
    • Take furniture, rugs, bedding and clothing outside to dry as soon as possible. Use an air conditioner or dehumidifier to remove moisture or open at least two windows to ventilate with outdoor air. Use fans to circulate air in the house. If mold and mildew have already developed, brush off items outdoors to prevent scattering spores in the house. Vacuum floors, ceilings and walls to remove mildew, then wash with disinfectant. Wear a two-strap protective mask to prevent breathing mold spores.
    • Mattresses should be thrown away.
    • Upholstered furniture soaks up contaminants from floodwaters and should be cleaned only by a professional.
    • Wood veneered furniture is usually not worth the cost and effort of repair.
      Solid wood furniture can usually be restored, unless damage is severe.
    • Toys and stuffed animals may have to be thrown away if they’ve been contaminated by floodwaters.
    • Photographs, books and important papers can be frozen and cleaned later. They should be dried carefully and slowly. Wash the mud off and store the articles in plastic bags and put them in a frost-free freezer to protect from mildew and further damage until you have time to thaw and clean them or take them to a professional.
  • Ceilings and walls
    • Wallboard acts like a sponge when wet. Remove wallboard, plaster and paneling to at least the flood level. If soaked by contaminated floodwater, it can be a permanent health hazard and should be removed. If most of the wallboard was soaked by clean rainwater, consider cutting a 4- to 12-inch-high section from the bottom and top of walls. This creates a “chimney effect” of air movement for faster drying. A reciprocating saw with a metal cutting blade works well, but use only the tip of the blade and watch out for pipes, ductwork and wiring.
    • Plaster and paneling can often be saved, but air must be circulated in the wall cavities to dry the studs and sills.
    • The three kinds of insulation must be treated differently. Styrofoam might only need to be hosed off. Fiberglass batts should be thrown out if muddy but may be reused if dried thoroughly. Loose or blown-in cellulose should be replaced since it holds water for a long time and can lose its antifungal and fire retardant abilities.
  • Electrical system
    The system must be shut off and repaired and inspected by an electrician before it can be turned back on. Wiring must be completely dried out- even behind walls. Switches, convenience outlets, light outlets, entrance panel, and junction boxes that have been under water may be filled with mud.
  • Heating and cooling systems and ducts
    Will need inspection and cleaning. Flood-soaked insulation should be replaced.
  • Appliances
    Appliances will get stains, odors, silt deposits, and gritty deposits and need to be serviced, cleaned and sanitized. Running equipment before it is properly cleaned could seriously damage it and/or shock you. Professional cleaning is recommended for electronics, TVs and radios, washing machines, dryers, dishwashers, and vacuum cleaners. The hard exterior can be hand cleaned. All metallic appliances that have been flooded should be properly grounded to prevent electric shock. Mud or dirt in a grounded outlet or adapter may prevent the grounding system from working, and you could be electrocuted.
  • Pump out the basement
    If your basement is full or nearly full of water, pump out just 2 or 3 feet of water each day. If you drain the basement too quickly, the pressure outside the walls will be greater than the pressure inside the walls. That may make the walls and floor crack and collapse.
  • Floors
    With wood subflooring, the floor covering (vinyl, linoleum, carpet) must be removed so the subflooring can dry thoroughly which may take several months. Open windows and doors to expose the boards to as much air as possible.

    • Carpeting
      Clean and dry carpets and rugs as quickly as possible. If sewage-contaminated floodwater covered your carpeting, discard it for health safety reasons. Also discard if the carpet was under water for 24 hours or more. To clean, drape carpets and rugs outdoors and hose them down. Work a disinfecting carpet cleaner into soiled spots with a broom. To discourage mildew and odors, rinse with a solution of 2 tablespoons bleach to 1 gallon water, but don’t use this solution on wool or nylon carpets. Dry the carpet and floor thoroughly before replacing the carpet. Padding is nearly impossible to clean so should be replaced. If the carpet can’t be removed, dry it as quickly as possible using a wet/dry vacuum and dehumidifier. Use a fan to circulate air above the carpet, and if possible, lift the carpet and ventilate with fans underneath.
    • Vinyl flooring and floor tile may need to be removed to allow drying of subfloor.
    • Wood floors
      Wooden floors should be dried gradually. Sudden drying could cause cracking or splitting. Some restoration companies can accelerate drying time by forcing air through the fluted underside of hardwood floorboards. Remove hardwood floor boards to prevent buckling. Remove a board every few feet to reduce buckling caused by swelling. Clean and dry wood before attempting repairs.
  • Roof damage and leaks
    • Defective flashing– Flashing is the sheet metal used in waterproofing roof valleys, hips and the angle between a chimney and a roof. Wet spots near a chimney or outside wall may mean the leak is caused by defective flashing, narrow flashing or loose mortar joints. Look for corroded, loose or displaced flashing on sloping roof valleys and at junctions of dormers and roof.
    • Clogged downspouts or eaves– Check for choked downspouts. Accumulated water or snow on the roof above the flashing may cause a leak. Ice accumulations on eaves sometimes form ridges, which cause melting snow to back up under the shingles.
    • Cracks and deterioration– Roofing (especially wood or composition shingles) usually deteriorates first on southern exposures. Check southern slopes for cracking or deterioration.
    • Holes– Missing shingles or holes in the roofing may be causing wet spots. To find holes, check for a drip trail or spot of light coming through in the attic. Stick a nail, straw or wire through the hole to mark the spot on the outside.
  • Private sewage systems
    Flooding of a private sewage system can be a hazardous situation for homeowners. It may lead to a back-up of sewage in the home, contaminated drinking water and lack of sanitation until the system is fixed. When flooding or saturated soil conditions persist, a private sewage system cannot function properly. Soil treatment systems for wastewater rely on aerobic (with oxygen) regions to reduce the amounts of chemicals and living organisms (viruses, bacteria and protozoa). When the soil is saturated or flooded, those hazardous materials can enter the groundwater and your drinking water supply.
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Tips for Cleaning Your Home After Water Damage

Tips for cleaning your home after water damage

Water in unwanted places can cause a lot of damage. Not only can it ruin your prized possessions, but also the house in which they are stored. If you’re able to act quickly, you can minimize the damage and possibly save some of your possessions. Some of your success depends on how long the water’s been around, there might be pieces of furniture that can be saved, and sometimes, even carpet, but any electronics hit by water are probably doomed.

Don’t treat flood water in unwanted places lightly: even if your basement only has an inch of water in it, or is even just damp, it is the perfect breeding ground for mold. Mold growth not only ruins walls, furniture, carpets, flooring, etc., it can lead to poor indoor air quality causing respiratory problems including asthma, and can lead to severe illness. Preventing mold growth is key to keeping your home’s air clean and healthy. So in addition to calling your insurance company, here are a few tips to deal with your flooded basement and minimize the water damage. (Call your insurance company before you do anything, and tell them what you want to do.)

  1. Disconnect the power, unplug any electronics, and remove electronics, furniture and movable items immediately. The faster you get items out of water’s way, the more likely you’ll be able to save them. Definitely move all electrical items first, and if you can, turn off your power leading into the affected area, especially if water rises above electrical outlets. Pull up any carpets (wall to wall and area rugs) and underpadding. You may be able to save the carpet if you get it cleaned and disinfected, however, it may shrink and be better off as an area rug afterwards. It’s unlikely you’ll be able to save the underpadding, which acts like a sponge and absorbs a lot of water.
  2. Get rid of the water. There are several ways to get rid of the water. If you don’t have power, or are worried about loose wires, the old-fashioned, manual way will work. Use old towels, buckets and mops to soak up as much water as possible. As long as sewers in your neighbourhood aren’t backed up, you can pour the water down the drain, otherwise, pour onto your lawn or other permeable surface. A wet/dry vacuum can be used too, note: be very careful to plug it into outlets far away from water. Don’t use an extension cord as the connection could also short out and give you a nasty shock. Water and electricity don’t mix! If your basement or other flooded area is overwhelming and you have power, consider renting (if available) a sump pump from your local Rent-all or hardware stores. Getting rid of all the water and drying out the area is the most important thing you can do to prevent mold growth.

    drywall cutaway, after flood waters are mopped up

    drywall cutaway, after flood waters are mopped up

  3. Dry out the affected area. Once you’ve mopped up all the water, use fans and  a dehumidifier to help dry out the area. If it’s stopped raining, open windows to allow for air circulation and faster drying. You want to dry the area out as soon as possible. If you have a finished basement and the drywall was affected, you’ll probably have to cut away the areas that were touched by water as the drywall will crumble and the paper backing is a good source of food for mold. If you have baseboard trim, take it up first, and if it’s made from pressboard it will likely not be salvageable. If it was wood, you might be able to save it.
  4. Disinfect. After the area has dried out, including wood beams, insulation, drywall, etc., use a good disinfectant to get rid of any bacteria that might have come up through sewers, toilets, etc. Gloves Off Disinfectant, is a non-toxic but powerful disinfectant. Disinfect all areas affected by the flood waters including walls and wood and non-upholstered furniture that sat in flood water.
  5. Prevent mold growth. After you’ve disinfected and let the area thoroughly dry out, apply Concrobium throughout the affected area according to directions. I can’t say enough good things about this product; it is non-toxic, made with distilled water and inorganic salts. You can use it on furniture, walls, floors, basically anything that is susceptible to mold growth. Once a thin layer of Concrobium is applied, let it dry overnight. As Concrobium dries, it forms a thin layer over any mold that may be growing and actually crushes the roots of the spores. Wherever it’s sprayed will prevent any mold from growing, providing continued resistance. If you’re spraying an entire room, you might want to consider renting a mister from a hardware store such as Home Depot. It’s easy to use and very fast.
  6. Dispose of damaged items responsibly: you’ll be tempted to throw everything into a dumpster and send it all away and out of site. But if you can organize damaged goods into piles and take what you can to recycling centres, you will help alleviate the pressure on your local landfill site. Go to your city or town’s waste management website to find out where to recycle old paints, stains, adhesives and other toxic liquids, any damaged electronics from cell phones to TVs and computers, furniture, and even drywall. You can also look through Earth 911 to find recycling centres in your neighbourhood.
Mold in the corner of the white ceiling and yellow wall, with white heat pipe.

Why You Need To Hire a Mold Removal Professional

Mold is not something to mess around with. Lurking in dark spaces, destroying your hard-earned property—it’s a serious problem. Mold  will often go undetected and unseen. This fungal destroyer can be found in bathrooms, underneath tile, in laundry rooms, and even kitchens. Whether you smell it, spot it, or just reckon it’s there, here’s why you need to hire a mold removal professional.

    • Mold spreads fast. Even a little bit of mold is bad news. If the are is wet and dark, the mold will flourish.  Once this happens, it’s only a matter of time before the well-being of your home deteriorates. The earlier you call, the easier the restoration is.

  • Mold makes allergy symptoms even worse. If you have itchy eyes, a runny nose, a sore throat, and fatigue, you may think that your seasonal allergies are back. In some cases, though, it could be mold. Once mold is growing, it spreads quickly. The tiny spores can easily be blown around your home, exacerbating your allergies. Calling a mold professional is the easiest way to restore your health and get rid of the problem.
  • Mold is a huge health risk and can lead to many serious conditions.  When inhaled, the spores create respiratory infections and other ailments. If the mold isn’t completely eliminated, these health risks grow exponentially. Hire a professional company to secure your family’s health.
  • You may not have the professional equipment. Mold is difficult to kill completely. Companies have the equipment needed to eliminate mold from walls, wood, closets, clothes and any other place it may be hiding. With their professional tools, there isn’t a risk of damaging your belongings.
  • Professional companies know how to detect all molds. Don’t try to DIY when it comes to mold removal. Professional removal services can detect all visible, dormant, and hidden molds. Then, using proven techniques, they kill the mold, preventing regrowth.
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Basic Water Damage Remediation Steps

Water damage incidents take a variety of forms and can vary significantly in their severity. While some minor ones can be handled by property owners, most major incidents require the attention of a specialist. Assessing the damage and knowing whether to call a water damage remediation specialist for help can be a challenge.

One of the advantages of hiring a water damage specialist is their expertise in analyzing the severity of the damage and experience in determining the best course of action to quickly and effectively eliminate the negative repercussions. If you are going to attempt water damage remediation on your own, these are just a few of the things that must be taken into consideration:

Turn off the electricity. Flooding situations significantly increase the chances of electrocution, and are almost always beyond the realm of DIY water remediation. Electrocution can also come from a simple wall socket and standing water. If there is any doubt about the risk of electrocution, the electricity should be turned off. It is also important to make sure you are not in any standing water when shutting off the breaker because this could also cause electrocution.

Remove loose items and furniture. Different materials have different resiliency to water, and it is better to be safe than sorry. This is especially true with expensive furniture. Most furniture is made of wood, and different woods react differently to water. Some woods are very resilient, some can warp and bend, and others, such as particle board, simply begin breaking down. The sooner these items are removed from the water, the better the chances are that they will be salvageable.

Remove water quickly. The longer water sits, the more saturation will take place. Water pumps can be purchased at most local hardware stores. It might be necessary to purchase more than one pump depending on the size of your property and extent of the damage. When pumping water out, it is important to make sure the water is drained far enough away from the home that it does not drain back towards the property.

Completely dry the property. Thoroughly drying a property is the most difficult part of DIY water damage remediation, and is where most property owners make mistakes. Incorrectly deeming a property dry could lead to mold and mildew growth and other health risks. Fans should be brought in to aid the drying process, and carpets and pads should be pulled up. Property owners sometimes make the mistake of deeming their floors dry simply because their carpet is dry. It is often the pad under the carpet that retains moisture and leads to health risks. You should also be running a dehumidifier to help pull moisture from the air. This will help to lower the risk of mold and mildew growth, but remember to frequently empty the dehumidifer tank to ensure optimal performance.

Treat for mold and mildew growth. You should use anti-mold treatments throughout your water damage remediation efforts.You may also want to consider hiring  professional to come in to do mold and mildew testing after the remediation process. This will help catch problems before they get out of control, and it will also help detect potential problem areas.

Water damage remediation can be a difficult and complicated process, and it could end up costing DIYers more than hiring a professional in the first place. The steps above are only a few of the most basic things a property owner should know before attempting DIY water damage remediation.

Water Damage vs Flood Damage: What You Need to Know

water damage vs flood damage

Flood damage is just another kind of water damage, right?

When it comes to water damage vs flood damage, flood damage poses higher health risks, can require additional insurance coverage, and can cost more to repair.

But what exactly constitutes flood damage, what constitutes water damage, and why does it matter? Let’s start with the causes. Continue reading

Does Flood Insurance in San Diego Make Sense?

A good reason to buy flood insurance

By DVIDSHUB on Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/dvids/5881176150/

With the current El Niño season underway, it makes sense for you to wonder about flood insurance in San Diego. What exactly are the benefits of flood insurance? Should you purchase flood insurance for your home or business? If you live in San Diego or anywhere near the Southern California coastline, then you already know that this winter has been a doozy. With record rainfall and freeway closures on Highway 5 earlier this January, flooding and flood preparation seem to be in the forefront of many home and business owner’s minds. And one key element of El Niño preparation is the purchase of flood insurance in San Diego and nearby cities. And yet many businesses and residents stubbornly refuse to purchase flood insurance. We’re here to explore the benefits of flood insurance in San Diego and why it just might be the right choice for you. Continue reading

Flood Safety Means Knowing Where to Go

Where to go in a flood to stay safe

Photo by https://www.flickr.com/photos/au_tiger01/

When forming your flood safety plan, it’s important to know where to go in order to ensure your family’s safety. If your children are in school, know what to do should a flood occur during school hours. Come up with a designated meeting place for you and your children. Make arrangements with a family member or friend in a nearby town so you have a place to stay, and don’t forget to include your pets in your flood safety plans. Knowing where to go and what to do when a flood occurs is the most critical part of your flood safety agenda – prepare yourself today so you can remain safe. Continue reading

How to prepare for El Nino Flooding

How to Prepare for El Niño Flooding

How to prepare for El Nino Flooding

As the 2015 El Niño winter approaches, it’s important to prepare your home and family for possible flooding. Here are the absolute essentials that every household should cover going into the winter season.

Continue reading