Cleaning Up after a Disaster

Once the shock of a disaster wanes, it’s time to regroup and pick up the pieces. When cleaning up after a fire, storm, or flood, the homeowner has to decide what can be salvaged and what must be thrown away.

In worst case scenarios, standing water, sludge, and sewage can destroy entire homes. But for many homeowners, even a flooded basement, leaky roof, or small fire can cause extensive property damage. Time is of the essence in these situations, and the most success comes when you are able to respond to damage within 48 hours. In order to minimize loss and properly clean up in the event of a disaster, consider the following areas of concern.

  1. Your Home’s Structural Integrity. Keeping your house well maintained can help ensure it is structurally sound, possibly enhancing its capacity to withstand a destructive storm or flood. Should a disaster strike, it is important to have a professional inspect the foundation for any shifts, cracks, or weakness. In the event of serious flooding or a fire, the wooden frame should be dried out and decontaminated to eliminate any mold.
  2. Appliances, Heating Systems, and Water Heaters. Have a service professional inspect the functionality of your appliances. While washers and dryers, refrigerators, and dishwashers may still work, water damage may reduce their efficiency or lifespan. Furnaces and water heaters often need to be replaced because repair and cleaning is often difficult and costly.
  3. Interior Restoration. Professional restoration services may be able to speed dry a house that experiences water damage and minimize the homeowner’s loss. Hardwood floors allowed to dry may be restored, but carpeting will likely need to be replaced, especially when damaged by toxic or dirty water. Similarly, wood furniture may be refinished, while upholstered furniture will likely need to be discarded. Clothing and bedding that can withstand a heavy duty cleaning can be salvaged, but avoid trying to save anything made of porous materials than came in contact with contaminated water.
  4. Document Preservation. Important insurance, tax, and financial documents, books, photos, and artwork should always be stored in a dry place that does not experience severe temperature shifts from extreme heat to extreme cold, such as an attic. Paper and other organic materials are particularly vulnerable to mold and should be air dried within 48 hours.

Bear in mind that once water is gone, mold becomes a dangerous, lingering contaminant. Eliminating moisture and getting things to dry out is often the homeowners greatest challenge.

To minimize your financial loss, make sure your homeowners insurance is appropriate. Because homeowners insurance does not cover flood damage, be sure to ask your insurance agent about purchasing flood insurance if you are at risk. For more information, please give us a call.

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