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How to Deal with Residential Water Damage
Nobody welcomes a flood. But even a small leak is enough to cause damage to parts of your home, if gone unchecked. The damage is not something you can just ignore ó it must be dealt with as quickly as possible.
Find the source of the flood and, if the spillage is due to a burst pipe or broken water heater, shut off your homeís main water line. Shut off the electricity and gas, while youíre at it. If the damage is severe, you may want to hire a professional to cut off your homeís water, power and gas for you. Before you begin to clean up, take pictures of the damage and write down measurements to show your insurance company. Salvage whatever valuables you can from the home before you begin to clean up.
Before anything else, you have to get rid of all standing water. Wear protective gear at all times ó rubber boots, rubber gloves and a gas mask. Standing water is often contaminated, especially from natural floods, so be sure not to let children or pets stand in it. Place the pump at the lowest point of the flooded area. If the water is deep, use a nylon rope to tie down the pump. If the flood water is shallow, you may not have to use a pump. Instead, you may be able to get away with renting and using a wet-dry vacuum to remove the water.
Clean up debris and clear all mud out of the house. Mud left behind by floods can be highly toxic, and must be handled with caution. Spray down walls and check air ducts for dried mud and clean any of it left behind, as it can be toxic once it dries. You donít want that poisoning the air that circulates through your home! Do not use any outlets or appliances. Hopefully, by now, you have turned off the power in your home. Disinfect all surfaces in the home once the water is removed. This includes floors, walls, ceilings, air vents, countertops and any wood or plastic furniture. Use a good non-ammonia-based disinfectant to get rid of all remaining toxins.
Once the water is cleared from the home, look around and identify any mold or mildew. Check the walls, but also check the ceilings, air ducts, rafters and between walls. Follow the musty scent; if you can smell the must but canít find the mold, you likely have mold growth in a hidden spot. If you canít find it, hire a professional. Act quickly, as mold grows the longer itís left untouched. Dry out the mold infected area by opening windows and placing fans if mold has not yet begun to grow. Discard of any wet carpets or furniture; take it outside to dry in the sun. Mold is very difficult to get out of carpet fibres and in many cases the affected carpet may not be worth holding onto. Use your discretion or consult a water damage repair specialist. If your mold growth is severe, consider hiring a professional to tackle this task.
These are just a few important steps to take after your home suffers a flood or severe spill. Itís important to assess the damage and make sure you can handle the task on your own. If the damage is too severe, you should always hire a water restoration professional to repair the damage for you.
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Any kind of water damage can eventually lead to mold, no matter the size or severity of the leak. Mold doesnít need too many different elements to come together before it can grow and expand: dark and damp conditions combined with moisture can facilitate the growth of mold almost anywhere. Molds introduce allergens and dangerous odors into the air in your home, which can lead to allergic reactions or asthma attacks, irritation of the eyes, nose, throat, lungs and skin in people who are both allergic and not allergic to mold.
In many cases, if mold has started to grow on more than one area of your carpet, or there is a very large area of growth, it is past the point of no return. You should toss the carpet and buy a new one. If you were able to spot the mold early on, growing in small or isolated patches, you can take care of this in one of two ways.
Your best bet is to fill a steam-cleaning machine with detergent and water and steam clean the entire carpet, with emphasis on the affected areas. Ensure the carpet dries completely once youíre done steam cleaning, to prevent the spread of mold. If possible, take your carpet outside to dry in the sun, away from the part of the home affected by water damage. If detergent and water donít work to clean the mold, consider trying the same process with a stronger cleaning agent. Remember to test out the cleaning agent on a small part of the carpet first, then wait 24 hours to ensure that cleaning agent doesnít damage the rug. If the tested area is fine after 24 hours, steam clean the rug using the cleaning agent.
A second option is to remove the affected section of carpet. If youíve tried cleaning the carpet to no avail, consider cutting out the section of carpet affected by mold growth, and replace it with a new carpet of similar size and color. This is not a fool-proof solution, nor is it something to be considered if aesthetics are very important to you. It is probably not an effective mold removal technique if your carpet is affected by mold growth in more than one part of the carpet, either.
Prevention is your best mode of controlling the growth of mold. Preventing the risk of flood or leakage will reduce the possibility of growth. If circumstances change and the risk of flood goes up, removing carpets beforehand and opening windows and running electricity to bring in light and air circulation will hinder the spread of mold. Never attempt to salvage a carpet that is significantly covered in mold, as mold poses a serious health risk.
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