We’ve had lots of rain and melting snow in the St. Louis area in the last several weeks. If you lived here in 1993, I’m sure you remember the historical floods that devastated the area. There have also been years when spring produced too much rain, again causing flooding in the area, sometimes approaching the 1993 devastation.
Well, here we are again. Spring has just begun and we’re already being threatened by flooding once again. And the rain continues to fall, causing the rivers to rise and overflow. When the ground is saturated, there is nowhere for the excess water to go. Even if you’ve taken steps to waterproof your home and property, you may experience water seeping into your basement or foundation, which can cause damage and mold growth.
And water damage isn’t only caused by flooding. It can be the result of other factors, like leaky or broken pipes and hoses, faulty appliances, or, worst of all, sewer backups. Remediating the water damage will depend greatly on the source of the water leakage.
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12 Tips to Address the Effects of Water and Mold Damage
Dealing with the water damage can be very stressful if you don’t know how to address the problems. If you don’t manage the issues promptly and accurately, damage can become hard to contain and remediate. If water is not cleaned up properly and completely, it’s easy for mold to start growing as soon as 24 hours after the water infiltrates.
The key is to manage and control the situation before it becomes disastrous. We’ve offered some tips below for dealing with the water damage and the mold growth that can follow.
1. Turn Off the Power.
When electricity is exposed to or contacts water, it can be very dangerous. It’s important to turn off the power leading to the area affected by the water and disconnect electrical appliances. This is especially true if the water has risen above electrical outlets, but even if it hasn’t, use extreme caution.
2. Know the Source of the Water.
As we noted previously, water damage can be caused by three different types of water:
- Clean water (category 1)
- Gray water (category 2)
- Black water (category 3)
Category 1 water usually comes from a leaky pipe, faulty appliance or rain. Category 1 water doesn’t have a bad odor, usually smelling like tap water. The category 2 and 3 water can pose health risks to people and animals, so they need to be handled with more caution. If you’re dealing with this type of water damage, you may want to let the professionals handle it.
3. Wear Protective Clothing.
Before wading through the water damaged area, you should don waterproof clothing and protective gear. Because you may not know what dangerous pathogens and chemicals can be in the water or out of site, wearing goggles, gloves, mask and helmet can help protect you from exposure to harmful elements.
4. Investigate Entire Damage and Take Photos.
Once you know it’s safe to enter the affected area, you should investigate further. You may only see a small part of the actual water damage on the surface. A large part of the damage can be hidden behind walls and other structures, so determining and addressing the full extent of the damage is critical to remediating it.
You can purchase moisture meters to assess structural integrity. Once the integrity is determined to be safe to proceed, you need to figure out what types of wall contents you have. Insulation in the walls will require the use of flood cuts. If there is no insulation, you can create weep holes. If there is a firewall, staggered cuts should be used.
It’s also a good idea to take photos of the damaged area, especially for insurance purposes. If possible, take pictures of the water source, as well as items damaged, walls, ceilings, electronics, carpets and all the items you plan to submit in your insurance claims.
5. Remove any Furnishings.
Quick removal of furniture and carpeting can help to save those possessions. Move the furniture to a dry area. Pull up carpeting and padding. If carpeting has not been severely affected, it may be possible to have it cleaned for reuse. Padding is usually not salvageable, since it acts like a sponge, soaking up the water.
6. Get Rid of Standing Water.
You can do this in several ways. The old-school way is to use buckets, towels and mops to get rid of as much standing water as possible. These can be dumped down the drain if sewers aren’t flooded as well. If sewers are overloaded, you’ll need to dump in your lawn or other area that will soak it up.
If you have a wet/dry vacuum, it can be used to suck up excess water; however, use caution. The vacuums require electricity, so they need to be plugged into an outlet far away from the standing water. And don’t use extension cords, as they can short out and cause an electrical shock.
Renting a sump pump can be a great help when there is severe flooding and excess water. Again, caution is advised with these as well, since they are powered by electricity.
7. Deal with Structural Issues.
If drywall is affected by the flooding, you’ll probably need to remove it or cut away the affected areas. Water will cause the drywall to crumble and the dampness will affect the paper backing, which can be a good source for mold growth. Baseboards may be salvageable if they are plastic or wood, but if they are made from pressboard, they are typically ruined. You may also need to replace insulation if it was affected by the water.
8. Dry Out the Entire Area.
After removing as much standing water as possible, it’s critical to completely dry out the area. This can be accomplished through the use of dehumidifiers and large, commercial fans. If weather permits, opening windows can increase circulation. Also, turn on the HVAC to help dry out the home.
It’s important to use a good disinfectant to reduce the risk of mold growth on the area and items affected by the water damage. Disinfecting items like walls, floors, non-porous furniture and other items can get rid of bacteria that could have been in the water.
10. Prevent and Remove Mold Growth.
This is a very important step in making sure your excess moisture doesn’t result in mold growth. It needs to be done immediately, since mold can begin growing on damp surfaces within 24 hours.
After you’ve thoroughly dried out and disinfected the area and contents, apply a mold control product, like Concrobium Mold Control to treat the area. This product can be found at many hardware stores. It can be used on multiple surfaces to prevent mold. It will crush the roots of any mold spores already growing, and prevent further mold growth.
There are also other common household products that can be used to remove mold, some more effective than others. These can include:
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Baking soda
- Tea tree oil
- Grapeseed seed extract
11. Properly Dispose of Damaged Items.
In the midst of all your clean-up, you may not want to be bothered by disposing damaged items responsibly. However, you owe it to the planet to try to recycle, if possible. Don’t just throw everything in a dumpster, where everything will end up in a landfill for generations to come. It may even be illegal to dump some items, like paint, chemicals, other toxic materials, electronics and even drywall. They have specific recycling requirements for disposal.
You may be able to find recycling centers and information on what and how to recycle on your community’s website, or you can contact your trash hauler for suggestions. You may also be able to find resources through the Earth 911 website.
12. Call the Professionals.
Water damage can be devastating and difficult to remediate. Dealing with the situation can be very stressful, especially if you aren’t sure of the process. If you don’t completely rid the area of water and any dampness, mold will begin to grow very quickly.
The best way to deal with water damage and to prevent mold from growing is to call a professional water damage restoration company like St. Louis Cleaning and Restoration. They have been in the business for almost 30 years, helping St. Louis area customers rid their homes of water damage.
St. Louis Cleaning and Restoration will send technicians specifically trained in water removal and water damage restoration. They have the equipment and tools to properly assess and remediate the damage so it is completely and accurately removed. They also have a large warehouse where your possessions can be cleaned and restored while the home is being dried out.
Because St. Louis Cleaning and Restoration knows that time is of the essence when dealing with water damage, they are available 24/7 for emergency service. And if there is mold resulting from the water damage, they have the professional expertise to remediate that situation as well.
If you experience water damage, don’t wait to get help. Call us today for expert remediation.