Flooding can be an incredibly stressful experience. Especially if it was a natural event or unexpected, it can leave you with huge amounts to clean up. So, how do you clean up properly after flooding? And, should you be doing it?
What typically is damaged in a flood?
Depending on the type of flooding and how much warning you had, damage could be catastrophic, impacting everything below the waterline high tide mark. Or, if it’s been a long, slow leak, the damage could be confined to a small part of the house.
In general, a flood will impact flooring, carpet, walls, and any possessions the water touches. Depending on the flood, the bottom of drapes/ curtains and furniture will be affected. This can be tricky to resolve, and knowing what to keep or throw, and how to fix damage, mean you have some decisions to make.
What type of water has entered your property?
There are three types of flood waters; clean, grey or black water. Clean water is what you’ll typically get from a burst pipe or rainwater ingress. Grey water is non-clean water that doesn’t have sewage contamination. Blackwater has been contaminated by biological materials or human waste. Black water is not always black in colour either, it could be clear and odourless.
The first thing to do is to take photos or a recording of the damage. Include all relevant information or sources of water. This will help if there’s a future insurance claim. Then, start clean up as soon as the water has receded or the leak is resolved. Do not delay, as water can damage permanently, and quickly.
How to clean up after a flood of clean water
This is the easiest type to clean up, and provided it’s done in a timely manner, it should not result in huge amounts of remediation work. Use a wet vac to extract as much water as possible from the carpet, and if other soft furnishings have gotten wet, simply wash with hot soapy water and dry them in the sun when possible. Using a commercial dehumidifier is important—these can be hired from rental companies.
If walls are wet, once the cause of the water has stopped and you have the dehumidifier going, they should dry out quickly. Encourage air flow throughout the house if the weather is fine. Wipe walls down with clean water and detergent.
If the carpet has been damaged, stained or the back become delaminated, it will likely need to be removed and replaced with new.
How to clean up after a flood of greywater
This type of water can be cleaned by non-professionals if it is attended to promptly. If the water has sat around for a while, it possibly has become blackwater, and full of contaminants. If your flooding is due to a faulty washing machine or dishwasher, this is grey water, and can be cleaned the same as clean water, with a wet vac and dehumidifier.
However, if it has sat for a while or come into contact with sewage, then it is now classed as blackwater. Speak to your insurance company, as sometimes it can be uneconomical to clean carpet. If there is any mould damage to the carpet, it needs to be disposed of.
How to clean up black water flooding
If blackwater is involved, it’s not recommended that non-professionals clean it. There is risk of contamination, health problems, and if not cleaned properly it can quickly cause major damage to a house.
At TechClean, we are experts at cleaning up blackwater. This includes toilet, sewage, groundwater, and seawater, as well as grey water that has not been cleaned up fast enough.
The process for this clean up begins with PPE. Because black water can harbour bacteria and parasites, it’s vital this water does not come into contact with skin. We assess the damage and make decisions about what can be salvaged, and what cannot.
For instance, it’s likely that carpet and rugs will need to be disposed of. While the excess water can be removed, cleaning bacteria out thoroughly may not be possible, resulting in long term problems with bad smells and even mould.
If you do decide to clean it up yourself, ensure you are protected from the water. If there was a flood, hopefully you would have turned off your mains power before evacuating. Do not turn electricity back on until given the all-clear by an electrician. If electrical appliances have been submerged, do not turn them on, and they must be inspected before use.
Remove as much water from the house as possible using a pump, buckets, and brooms. Hose down the walls and remove the dirt and silt as best as possible.
You’ll most likely need to remove all wall linings and insulation to above the water line. Some timber furniture may be able to be cleaned and dried, some furniture will be beyond repair. Drapes will likely need to be throw out.