Cleaning Up After a Flood

Flood damage
Posted at 5:45 AM, Feb 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-04 11:52:06-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) -- Most of us prepare for the possibility of a house fire. We install smoke detectors and buy fire extinguishers – just in case. But did you know that water damage from a burst pipe or broken appliance is actually five times more likely?

In this Angie's List report, what to do when the water rises inside your home.

Water damage is the second most common cause of homeowners filing an insurance claim, and each year, insurance companies pay out $3.5 billion to cover them all.

The main culprits? Broken pipes and overflowing tubs or toilets.

Reacting quickly is the key to clean-up.

"You want to take action right away, so as soon as you realize it, start removing any items that can be removed and get fans blowing in the area so you can start to dry it out," said Angie Hicks, founder of Angie's List.

Water extraction professional Jennifer Mauck adds: "Optimally, we will dry out a structure in three days. So we come out, extract the water, place drying equipment and then we check back the following days to make sure it's drying properly."

Three days is a best-case scenario. If cabinets or drywall gets wet, more gear and labor is required to prevent the possibility of mold.

"We drill holes in the wall and then force air into the area behind the wall. Mold likes to grow in dark, no-air-movement, warm places," said Mauck.

If damage is significant, look into hiring a certified restoration professional with the equipment and experience to get you dried out - but check credentials carefully.

A reputable pro will be available any day of the week – even in the middle of the night – and they should help you document all of your items to aid your insurance claim.

"We take a lot of pictures. We talk through things with the homeowner as we're pulling stuff out of a basement and putting it upstairs or in the garage. We go through and catalog things with the homeowner," said Mauk.

If you any carpeting that gets saturated, just toss it.

Also, if you're storing items in the basement, use plastic tubs instead of cardboard boxes or paper bags and opt for area rugs instead of wall-to-wall carpet. If you don't have a sump pump, get one and check it regularly to make sure it's working properly.

Remember you can catch the latest Angie's List report every Tuesday morning on WTXL Sunrise.