8 DIY Tips When Water Damage or Flooding Strikes Your Home
Water damage is no laughing matter.
Given the recent overabundance of summer storms – as a record hurricane season wreaks fury on the Caribbean and North America – it is natural for those of us in the Southwest to turn our minds toward flooding and water damage.
Water damage in Michigan occurs for a number of reasons. Perhaps it’s the untimely intervention of a century storm. Perhaps it’s flash flooding after a particularly heavy rain. Perhaps it has nothing to do with the climate at all and has more to do with clogged gutters or something pedestrian like that.
Whatever the root cause, the end result is the same: you need help getting things back together. We understand, perhaps better than anyone, how expensive it can be to remedy water damage. That’s why we’re assembling this helpful list of Michigan water restoration and mitigation tips for the enterprising Do-It-Yourselfer.
If you’ve never had your basement or home flooded, you might feel completely confused by this issue. Unfortunately, no one can afford to turn a blind eye to something that serious. On the other hand, if you have experienced water damage, you already know that it can be a costly and complicated cleanup.
This past year has seen unprecedented record rainfall and storm activity, which means that everyone in the region – from Michigan to Michigan and beyond – would be smart to give some thought to their own plans.
What will you do if your home is among the structures that get flooded this year?
Here are some ideas.
1. Put Safety First.
Nothing gets done unless the property is safe. Cleaning up the mess is always the first step to a good restoration job. Now, there are things you may or may not be equipped to do, but regardless of your first steps, you’ve got to stay safe while undertaking water damage mitigation.
That means that before you even begin, make sure that anyone involved in a cleaning effort is properly protected.
- Avoiding exposure to potentially contaminated water that could contain harmful bacteria and molds.
- Working as fast as possible to give the water less time to cause damage.
- Wearing protective gear, including masks and gloves and footwear.
- Checking and being aware of the possibility that floodwater has brought living creatures like snakes, insects, or rodents into your home.
- Checking your gas lines and power lines before beginning work to ensure they are intact.
- Checking for pilings, foundation cracks, slanted floors, or anything else that suggests serious structural damage.
- Turning off water and power if possible – at least until you’ve removed standing water.
This may cost you a few bucks, but anything you do is less work that Michigan water restoration experts can charge you to perform.
It’s important, at this stage, to really figure out whether there’s anything you can do. If you’re seeing the structural damage, or if there’s any reason to suspect your power lines are compromised, or if your ceilings are waterlogged, these are all reasons to suspect the job might be too big for an enterprising DIY-er.
Safety has to come first, and second, and third, or you’ll be adding medical bills to your water restoration bills.
2. Move what can’t be saved out of the picture.
One of the things Michigan water damage pros have to charge for is prepping the home for restoration by moving all the damaged personal property out of the home. If you can throw on some thick rubber gloves and a pair of water-resistant boots and haul that stuff out into the sunshine on your own, you’ll save a bundle.
Sure it could be a lot of work, but having someone else do that could cost you a lot of money.
This is a good area for DIY, as well, because it’s not sensitive work that requires special training to perform. If you don’t have to pay a professional their hourly rate to do grunt work, they can spend that time on the stuff a homeowner simply is not equipped to handle.
Regarding things that ought to be removed:
- Throw out any exposed food, beverages, and medicines. Unfortunately, this does include canned goods that have been in contact with floodwater. They can be saved, if they’re not dented and are in all-metal cans, by removing the labels and rinsing them in a sanitizing solution. Anything in cardboard or plastic, including sealed soda bottles, cannot be disinfected and have to be discarded. We have a great memory tool for this in the industry: “When in doubt, throw it out.”
- Bottled water that has come into contact with floodwater is also potentially contaminated.
- Anything made of soft plastic or rubber should probably be thrown away.
- Books, documents, and photographs don’t have to be thrown away – they can be stored in plastic or even frozen in order to be professionally cleaned later.
3. Prep what you can and ensure you’ve got clean running water.
It’s important to have the tools, and one of those tools is clean running water. If your water is coming through clean and drinkable, you’re good to get started. There are a few things you may wish to do before you really dive in, though:
- Flush your toilet to check it for clogs and debris. The last thing you want is to start a whole new flooding issue.
- Check cabinetry and such to ensure it’s still structurally sound. If it is not, refer to Step 7 below when the time comes.
- Get lots of plastic wraps and be ready to use it to patch holes and stop further damage.
- Open up every possible door and window – air is your friend.
- Don’t do any electrical work yourself – water and electricity are a potent and lethal combination.
- Don’t use gas generators inside the home to power the work. If you haven’t got electricity, you’re going to need professional assistance.
4. Remove standing water and dry out what you can.
Pooling water is a big problem. It will soak into walls and substrate and cause damage. It will also spawn bacteria.
Did you know:
Standing water and floodwater can contain cholera, hepatitis, and other contaminants?
You don’t want to play games with that stuff. Leaving water standing will give bacteria and mold an unhealthy and effective breeding ground, and once they start growing and multiplying, it can be very expensive to get rid of them.
If there’s a huge amount of water, you’re in the unfortunate position of needing water restoration experts and their industrial equipment. However, if the water is only a few inches deep or is otherwise manageable, you could bust out a few wet/dry vacuums and go to work. If you don’t own one, rentals are reasonably priced. Please, for your own sake and ours, do not try to use a regular household vacuum to remove water.
Yes, we have seen that. Far too many times, in fact.
Depending on what’s flooded, you could be making a bunch of trips outside to dispose of the water. However, keep your chin up: every trip is money saved.
5. Michigan water damage – It’s time for the second stage of cleanup.
If you’ve gotten destroyed and damaged items out of the space and gotten rid of standing water, it’s time to move forward. Once the waterlogged contents – including carpeting, padding, paneling, drywall, and damaged furniture – are removed, you can clean up what’s left.
Many people still advocate using bleach, and that can work. So can Pine-Sol or Lysol. You need a strong disinfectant. However, experts on water damage use professional products, and many are more eco-friendly than bleach.
Check warning labels and wear appropriate safety gear whenever you’re working on this kind of cleaning. Then dilute whatever disinfectant you’re using with warm water and scrub the walls, ceilings, and whatever else you can reach thoroughly.
You should perform this task twice to ensure everything is properly disinfected. As we’ve mentioned, floodwater can contain some harmful stuff. You need to do everything in your power to get it out of your home.
If you’re not sure you’re up to that, there’s no shame in leaving this to the professional water restoration technicians. However, if you want to keep your costs down, this is an important and effective way to do that.
6. Break out every fan and dehumidifier you’ve got.
Getting things dried and getting the air in your home circulating is crucial at this stage. Mold and other nastiness can start taking hold in as little as 48 hours. The timeframe depends on water levels, temperature, and the materials in which they’re forming.
Microbial growth remediation is one of the most complicated – and therefore expensive – parts of water damage restoration. To defend yourself against unwanted bills and unwanted microbes, get every fan you can find to work on drying your home out.
Box fans, dehumidifiers, standing fans, and ceiling fans aren’t as effective as the industrial air movers brought out when you call in for professional help, but they’ll certainly be a big help. Get the fans placed facing the worst (meaning wettest) places you can find as soon as possible after the flooding occurs.
They’ll start the much-needed evaporation process, and give bacteria and moldless of a chance at taking hold.
A dehumidifier is great, as well, as they’ll actively remove water particles from the air and keep your home from growing muggy and humid. It is far more difficult for mold and bacterial cultures to grow in dry air.
7. If you’ve got demolition work – that’s a DIY goldmine.
Generally, if you’re a handy sort of person, you’ll be able to tell if there are parts of your Michigan home that are just going to get replaced. Most homeowners aren’t likely to do serious reconstruction because most homeowners don’t possess the tools and skills to do that.
However, demolition is a different story. Not only are you more than capable of doing it, it can help you in two major ways:
First, you’ll save money because you won’t have to pay someone else to knock your poor damaged walls down.
Secondly, demolition work can be both fun and cathartic. You’d be amazed at how much better you’ll feel after a few hours with a sledgehammer and pry bar.
If you decide you’re up to saving money by going this route, you can remove the damaged parts of your building. Carpets and the padding beneath them can be rolled up and hauled out.
Baseboards and drywall can be knocked out if they’re waterlogged and not salvageable. Floor tiles can – and should – be removed where possible.
Of course, with tiles, you absolutely have to check and make sure they’re not asbestos tiles. If they are, that part is no longer DIY – call the Michigan water restoration professionals of your choice and let them know, so they can loop in a contractor familiar with asbestos abatement.
Once you’re finished with all that demolition, you’ll realize that your elbow grease has saved you money – and hopefully brought you a little peace of mind.
8. Protect yourself in the future.
If you’ve gotten lucky this past year and your Michigan home hasn’t been flooded, this step is for you. If you have, this is so the next time is that much easier. There is a lot that homeowners can do to ensure that flood damage isn’t too extreme.
- If you have a basement or garage that is at risk for flooding, try to keep it uncluttered. Do a healthy spring clean and get rid of everything you aren’t attached to. If you do that once a year or so, you’ll keep your hoarder tendencies (it’s okay, we all have them) to a minimum. When floodwaters come, you’ll be glad you did this.
- Put things on high shelves whenever possible. Invest in metal or hard plastic shelving for your home, and be prepared to move everything onto them in the event that flooding seems possible. This is a phenomenally simple way to ensure that your stuff survives.
- Invest in plastic containers, as well. The ones with secure lids can keep water that comes from above – such as that from burst pipes – away from your precious belongings. Keep these on the aforementioned shelves, as well – it isn’t a guarantee, but it will vastly improve their chances come flooding.
The mental and physical impact of Michigan water damage and flooding is severe. There’s no reason you shouldn’t roll up your sleeves and take what actions you can to ensure that the economic impact is manageable.
When you’ve done everything you can, leave the rest to the water damage mitigation experts and the insurance companies. You will have saved yourself a lot of expense through hard work and perseverance, and that is something of which you can be proud.