How can I safely inspect my house after water damage?
Dangers are not over when the water goes down. Do not endanger yourself or your family after a water event. Keep children and pets away. Try to protect yourself and your family from stress, fatigue, and water-related health hazards.
Follow these basic safety rules to secure your safety:
- Determine Structural Stability
- Cut off power supply
- Turn off water supply
- Turn off gas supply
- Beware of animals
- Use protective gear
What are the best ways to secure my property after water-related damage?
Lock and secure your property when unoccupied to prevent looting. Keep in mind that alarms may malfunction if the electricity or telephone service has been interrupted.
How can I estimate the extent of the damage?
Start with a closer inspection of the property to assess the damage to the exterior. Only if determined safe, walk around the building and property to observe and gather information. Mark the water levels on the walls for reference. Start with the most affected room and document the damage.
What are the electricity-related safety rules after water damage?
There are 3 basic safety rules:
- Turn off the power to your home or business by disabling the main circuit breaker panel. Even if the neighborhood power grid is down, assume all power lines are active and functioning.
- Do not use regular household vacuums to remove excess water.
- Do not use electrical appliances while standing on a wet floor.
WATER DAMAGE PREVENTION
How can I know if I have water damage in the kitchen?
The following are typical signs of water damage in the kitchen:
- Leaks under the sink
- Slow draining pipes
- Cracked tile or missing grout
- Soft or stained walls and floors
- Leaks under and around the base of the dishwasher
- MNoisture behind the refrigerator.
Where do I need to look for water damage in the bathroom while inspecting?
Start with the toilet; check the water lines, the floor around the toilet, the tank and the toilet rim. Make sure no leaks are visible. Inspect the shower and bathtub, grout, drain, and visible plumbing. Confirm that all seals are tightened and dry. Be attentive to discolorations or soft areas around the bathtub walls.
Can the attic vents be a water damage threat?
Yes, but do not uninstall them. Vents are vital for proper attic ventilation and help circulating air and keep low humidity in the attic. However, vents must be inspected regularly.
I can see drips in the washing machine while it is not in use. Is that normal or is it a sign of water damage?
You probably need to replace the shut off valve. Consider installing a single-handled valve that makes it easier to turn off the water supply to the washing machine.
I checked my attic insulation and it seems wet. How can I dry it and make sure it is still in good condition?
After being wet, most insulation is ineffective. However, it is hard to dry out insulation and therefore it will hold moisture for a while, creating high moisture conditions. It is strongly recommended to find and fix the leak source and replace all wet insulation.
I can see discoloration on the wall near my utility sink and the wall is getting softer. Does that mean a problem?
Stained or discolored walls around the utility sink probably means there is an internal leak in the pipes behind the stained wall. Fixing these pipes usually requires professional help. To verify the problem, consider hiring a professional for an infrared inspection.
What are the recommended tests for a sump pump?
There are 3 steps to a sump pump test:
- Check the outlet pipe to make sure it is not clogged or frozen. Follow the pipe and confirm that the water is directed away from the property.
- Check that the pump is clean.
- Plug in the pump and remove the lid (if there is one). Use a flashlight and look into the pump and see that the inlet pipe is clean and free-flowing. Test the pump by pouring at least 5 gallons of water and pumping it out. Be sure to pour the water in a way that will simulate the average flow into the pump. Force the pump to turn on and off 2-3 times and watch the action of the on/off switch while listening to the pump.
What are the warning signs of water damage in the refrigerator?
Generally, there 3 important red flags for water damage, originating in the refrigerator:
- Moisture behind or under the refrigerator including on the coils in the back of the refrigerator.
- Leaks from hose connection and seals (commonly found in the icemaker’s water supply line).
- The growth of mold is a major sign because it indicates an ongoing problem that must be treated immediately. This problem is usually detected in the drain pan if your refrigerator has one.
Do I have to install an exhaust fan in my bathroom?
Installing an exhaust fan in the bathroom is much recommended. When running, the fan ventilates the bathroom by circulating air and therefore preventing damp air overloads. It helps to maintain low humidity levels, promoting good indoor air quality and reducing the chance for mold growth. It is important to turn it on while using the bathroom and for 5-10 minutes afterwards.
RECOVERING FROM WATER DAMAGE
Do I need to throw away all my kitchenware after a flood?
Not necessarily. Dishes, cooking utensils, and food preparation areas can be sanitized and disinfected.
What is air drying?
Air drying is the most common technique for drying out. Airflow will speed up evaporation by moving moisture-saturated air, allowing dry air to absorb moisture. This method is inexpensive drying since no special equipment is required. However, it is relatively slow.
My books were soaked in water. How can I salvage them?
Assuming your books were soaked in clean water for less than 24 hours and mold is not present, you must start by prioritizing salvage order: collection books and valuable books must be dried before all other books. The best method for paper drying is freezing. Place the books into plastic bags and place in the freezer. To prevent pages from adhering to each other, place a baking sheet every 20-30 pages.
How can I salvage my photos if I can’t get to them immediately?
If you cannot dry out your photos immediately, you can delay further damage from happening by freezing your photos. Start with rinsing them gently, then place your clean photos in a plastic bag (zip bags are recommended), place them in a container and put in the freezer. Be sure to consult a professional conservator before freezing any photos.
FIRE DAMAGE PREVENTION
What can I do to reduce the chances of fire damage in my bedroom?
Pay attention to electric blankets. Don’t go to sleep with an electric blanket unless it has thermostatic controls or an overheat protector. Keep the electric blanket flat to prevent damage to the internal wiring. Install smoke detectors and test them regularly. Be extremely careful with portable heaters and keep a 3ft. clearance between them and combustibles. Refrain from smoking in bed.
What are grease fires and how can I fight grease fires?
A grease fire occurs when oil or greasy foods are heated and ignite. The simplest way to fight a grease fire is to carefully slide a lid over the pan. Do not fight grease fires with water because water causes the grease to splatter and the fire to spread.
Smart Tip: Baking soda can be used to suffocate grease fire.
Safety Tip: Do not try to take a grease fire outdoors. The pan will be too hot to carry.
How can I safely store flammable liquid?
Try avoiding storing flammable liquid inside your home. It is recommended to store in approved containers and make sure sealed. Keep away from heat. If stored in the basement, keep clearance (at least 3 feet) around appliances such as the furnace or hot water heater.
Is it safe to store appliances such as a loan mower or a snow blower in the basement?
No. the flammable liquids in these appliances release flammable vapors that can ignite and start a fire.
What are the important safety rules regarding bathroom appliances?
The most important safety rule for bathroom appliances is to make sure they are undamaged and that all cords and wires are insulated. In addition, make sure that these appliances are installed within a safe distance away from water to eliminate shocks and electrocution hazards.
Are there any specific safety measures for electrical boards?
Yes. Electrical boards can be a real fire threat if overloaded or over fused. Keep your electrical box clean and tidy. Do not bypass circuit fuses and never use extension cords for items that need a permanent supply of electricity.
What are the safety rules to prevent fire in the kitchen?
There are 5 basic safety rules you must remember while cooking in the kitchen:
- Keep pot handles turned inward, away from the edge of the stove.
- If possible, don’t wear long sleeves. Long loose sleeves, hanging over the stove while cooking, are likely to catch fire.
- Be sure to supervise the oven or gas and to turn them off when not needed.
- Place fabrics such as towels and dish rags away from a gas or electric range.
- Safely store flammable liquids such as gasoline and cleaning fluids away from any fire or heat sources.
How can I test my smoke detector and how often should I do it?
Smoke detectors should be tested once a month. The simplest test is to press the test button on your detector and check that it beeps loudly. It is also important to test the batteries and replace them every 6 months.
What can I do to reduce fire hazards in my backyard?
There are a few steps you can take to increase fire safety in your backyard:
- Plant fire-resistant plants such as hardwood trees.
- Keep you backyard clean from dry leaves and combustible debris.
- Thin out your trees and keep a 15 feet space between tree crowns.
- Prevent fire from spreading from the ground to the trees by removing limbs and dead branches from 6 to 10 feet of the ground.
What are the safety rules, required to secure my office against fire?
To promote fire safety in the office you should follow the following tips:
- Keep heat generating equipment away from combustibles and turn it off while not in use.
- Follow all electrical safety precautions.
- Be attentive to any gas leaks. Call the gas company technician to investigate every suspected gas leak.
- Install smoke detectors.
I am planning to replant my backyard. What should I do to reduce fire hazards?
Here are some suggestions to promote fire safety in your new backyard:
- If possible, plant fire resistant plants. Generally, fire resistant plants characteristics include: supple leaves, water-like sap, thicker bark, high moisture content.
- Plant and maintain your trees. Keep a 15 feet clearance between tree crowns to reduce the chance of fire spreads.
- Remove limbs and dead branches from 6 to 10 feet of the ground to prevent fire from spreading from the ground to the trees.
RECOVERING FROM FIRE DAMAGE
Do I have to throw out food after a fire?
No. however, you will have to be very careful when dealing with food. Throw food if it is burnt or if it has been exposed to heat, smoke or soot. In addition, do not use any canned foods if the can has bulged, is badly dented or has rusted.
You can keep refrigerated food if your refrigerator was not damaged in the fire. Your refrigerator will keep cold for 4 hours if it is well sealed. In case that the power was turned off during the fire and the refrigerator was turned off for more than 4 hours, discard the food.
Frozen food can be used if it still has ice crystals on it and if it still feels cold and hard. Whenever in doubt, discard the food.
What is so dangerous about mold?
Mold is mainly dangerous to your health as it may cause light allergic reactions to serious illness. It is more dangerous to infants, children, elderly people, pregnant women, and people with respiratory diseases, a weakened immune system, and those who suffer from allergies. The common reactions to mold are nasal stuffiness, eye irritation, shortness of breath, wheezing, and in rare cases, mold infections.
Will cleaning moldy areas stop the growth?
Cleaning is an important step when attempting to eliminate mold but it is not enough and will not stop mold growth. To stop mold you must remove the moisture source that promotes the growth. It is most recommended to keep the affected area dry and moisture free.
How can I tell if I have mold?
Active mold growth is slimy or fuzzy and is usually green, black, orange or purple. Inactive mold is dry and powdery and is usually white. In early stages, mold may look like a web while in full bloom it looks bushy. Another indicator for mold presence is odor. Mold has a musty, earthy smell that can indicate its presence even if it cannot be seen.
Where does mold grow?
Mold can be found everywhere, both indoors and outdoors. Usually, mold is found in damp areas, such as the basement or bathroom, as well as in the outdoor environment in grass, leaf piles, hay, and mulch.
What are the basic steps to mold prevention?
To prevent mold from growing, you will need to keep humidity levels below 40-45 percent. Start with measuring air moisture using a humidity meter (hygrometer). To maintain adequate moisture levels, allow good air circulation and use dehumidifiers and your AC system.
What are the techniques for mold prevention in the bathroom?
The most important technique for mold prevention is keeping low humidity levels. This can be achieved by: Allowing good air circulation by opening windows and doors and by turning the exhaust fan whenever using the bathroom.
Keeping the bathroom in good condition by cleaning it frequently and keeping it as dry as possible.