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Flood Damage Restoration Step-by-Step Guide on How to Dry out Your Home After Flood

Experiencing a flood in your home can be extremely damaging and stressful. Excess water can cause long-term problems like structural damage, mold growth, ruined personal belongings, and more if you do not deal with it properly. Act quickly and start the drying process as soon as possible after flood waters recede.

This comprehensive guide will walk you through all the necessary steps on how to effectively dry out your house after water damage from flooding. Follow these instructions carefully to help minimize destruction and safely restore your home.

How to Dry Out Your Home After a Flood

Assess Damage and Call in Professionals if Needed

The first step after experiencing any level of flooding is to thoroughly assess the damage throughout your home. Identify all areas that have been affected and determine the severity of the destruction.

Look for visible signs of water intrusion such as:

  • Discoloration on walls or ceilings

  • Warping or buckling of floors, walls, or structural elements

  • Musty odor

  • Dampness to the touch

  • Presence of moisture or standing water

You should also check for less noticeable indications of water damage like soft spots or hidden dampness behind walls, under flooring, or in crawl spaces. Using a moisture meter can detect excess moisture in materials that may not be visible to the naked eye.

If there is extensive flooding, severe structural damage, or areas that seem unsafe to enter, it is best to leave the premises and call professional flood damage restoration companies right away. Water damage professionals have the proper equipment, expertise, and certifications to safely handle large-scale flood damage restoration.

Flood Damage Restoration Tips

Secure Your Home and Turn Off Utilities

Before beginning any cleanup or drying efforts, you need to secure your home from further damage by shutting off all utilities:

Electricity

Standing water conducts electricity, creating a severe risk of electrocution. Only attempt to turn off power if you can reach the main breaker without entering flooded areas. If needed, call your electrical utility company or an electrician to assist.

Natural Gas

Natural gas appliances can release deadly carbon monoxide if submerged by flood waters. Contact your gas utility provider immediately to shut off gas lines. Do not attempt to relight pilots or turn appliances back on until properly inspected by professionals.

Main Water Supply

Shutting off the main water valve will prevent further flooding from broken pipes or fixtures. The valve is typically located near your home’s foundation on the incoming water line.

Remove Excess Water

Once your home is secured, removing standing water is a top priority. The more water you extract, the less damage it can cause. Consider these removal methods:

  • Pump Out Water: Professional-grade pumps or sump pumps will remove high volumes of water fastest. If hiring flood damage restoration services, powerful truck-mounted extraction units can rapidly clear large pools of water.

  • Absorb Small Puddles: Use all the towels you have on hand for small puddles, or put down moisture absorber pads designed for spill cleanup.

  • Wet Vacuum: Wet/dry shop vacuums have great suction for lifting water out of carpets or hard-to-reach spots.

  • Mop Floors: Use a mop to spread water towards doorways or areas where pumps or wet vacs can lift it out.

The sooner you remove excess water, the less destruction it can cause to your home through further saturation of materials.

Flood Damage Restoration Services for Drying out the Water

Drying your home quickly and thoroughly after a flood is crucial to prevent further damage. This process involves enhancing airflow, reducing humidity, and carefully drying building materials and belongings.

Open Up the House

Allow fresh air to circulate by opening all windows and doors. This helps moisture evaporate rather than settle into materials. Place removable window screens outside so openings are unobstructed.

Position Fans Strategically

Use box fans, floor fans, ceiling fans, and any other type of electric fans you have to maximize airflow. Focus on areas with visible water damage or moisture first.

If walls or ceilings were flooded, place specialized air movers directed at them to drive airflow into wall cavities and building materials to dry them from the inside out. Air movers can be rented at home improvement stores.

Run Dehumidifiers

Use portable dehumidifiers or large commercial dehumidification equipment to actively draw moisture out of the air and building materials. Continually empty the reservoirs so units can keep operating at maximum capacity.

Create Air Movement

Don’t have enough fans or equipment? That’s OK! Even moving air with your arms or hands creates airflow. Open up cabinets, closets, and sealed-off areas to circulate air everywhere possible throughout the drying process.

Disinfect and Sanitize Floors and Walls

Floodwaters often contain contaminated sediment and bacteria that pose health risks inside your home after the flood. It’s crucial to properly disinfect and sanitize any interior surfaces the water touched.

Wear appropriate safety gear first, including gloves, goggles, boots, masks and protective clothing. Strong disinfecting products require careful handling.

Disinfection Solution

An effective DIY disinfecting solution involves mixing 1 cup of bleach per 1 gallon of water. Alternatively, use commercial disinfectant products specifically designed for sanitizing floors, walls and other household surfaces after floods.

Apply disinfecting solutions with chemical-resistant spray bottles, sponges, mops, or wipes. Allow surfaces to remain wet with disinfectants for at least 10 minutes before rinsing or drying.

Scrub Surfaces

Use stiff brushes, scouring pads, or scrub brushes to physically agitate contaminated surface materials while disinfecting. This helps fully sanitize and prevent lingering bacteria.

Pay special attention to porous materials like concrete, grout lines, wood, and drywall that absorb floodwaters deeply. After scrubbing, rinse surfaces with clean water.

Pro Tip: Mark disinfected areas with painter’s tape as you work so you know what still needs sanitizing.

Dry Out Walls and Insulation

Wall materials and insulation inside of walls can hold an incredible amount of water, even from relatively quick flooding. Use these methods to thoroughly dry walls and associated materials to prevent future water damage or mold growth:

Create Airflow Behind Walls

Use hammers, pry bars, or saws to carefully open up holes in water-damaged walls near the floor and ceiling. This allows airflow directly behind the wall to dry wet building materials and insulation.

Place air movers blowing into these holes. Fans paired with dehumidifiers will dry out the inside of walls fastest.

Inspect Insulation

If you can access insulation behind cut holes, examine it thoroughly. Insulation loses its protective abilities when wet. If flooding saturated insulation entirely, consider removal and replacement.

Replace Wet Drywall

Drywall soaks up floodwaters like a sponge. It can take weeks to fully dry out wet drywall properly. In most cases, you’ll need to cut away lower soaked drywall sections and replace them entirely.

Prevent Mold Growth after Flood Damage

Excess moisture and humid conditions after flooding create the perfect environment for mold growth on flooded building materials. Using mold inhibitors helps prevent future mold issues.

Act quickly – mold can begin forming in as little as 48 hours after flooding. After drying and disinfecting, apply these mold inhibitors:

Mold-Resistant Paint

On cleaned wall surfaces above floor level that were flooded but are structurally OK, apply quality mold-resistant primers and paints. These special paint products include EPA-registered biocides that prevent mold growth.

Borates

Borate solutions act as antifungal treatments. Apply borate products to lumber, drywall, or other porous flooded materials during drying to inhibit mold. It bonds permanently with materials, preventing future outbreaks.

Concrobium Mold Control

Concrobium Mold Control solution chemically changes the mold’s environment to prevent further growth. Spray it directly onto affected porous materials during drying. It can also be used for prevention after initial cleanup.

If you discover extensive mold damage already, call professional mold remediation specialists for safe removal.

Replace Building Materials

Many common building materials become permanently damaged after flooding. It’s important to replace soggy materials entirely rather than simply drying them out. Here’s what typically needs replacing:

Drywall

As mentioned, drywall acts as a sponge, making it almost impossible to dry out completely without mold growth. Cut away flooded drywall at least 12-16 inches above the high water line.

Insulation

Similar to drywall, flooded insulation loses its protective abilities when saturated. Remove and replace wet insulation in walls and attic spaces.

Wood Materials

Solid wood may crack, warp, or develop mold after water submersion. Inspect structural wood framing, floors, trim, and furnishings closely. Discard and replace what can’t be restored.

Carpet and Pad

Carpeting, padding, area rugs, and similar fabrics hold moisture and sediment, making proper cleaning impossible. Discard and replace flooded sections.

Dry Out Floors

Floors often sustain significant damage during floods. Drying them completely helps prevent further destruction. Follow these floor drying methods:

Remove Floor Coverings

If you have resilient flooring like vinyl, linoleum or laminate flooring, carefully remove water-logged pieces to expose subflooring. These materials can trap moisture and debris underneath.

Dry Subflooring

Use fans and dehumidifiers to thoroughly dry exposed plywood or OSB subfloor materials before replacing floor coverings. Check moisture content using a meter.

Accelerate Hardwood Drying

For hardwood floors, open windows and set up fans to circulate air above the boards’ surface. Hardwood takes patience to dry correctly. You may need to sand and refinish later.

Dry Concrete Carefully

Enclosed spaces like basements often have concrete floors. Dry concrete SLOWLY using dehumidifiers to avoid cracking. It can take weeks for concrete to fully dry after flooding.

Restore Personal Belongings

Don’t neglect to salvage your personal contents and possessions. These items will also need thorough cleaning, drying, and restoration after flooding:

  • Carefully inspect all clothes, linens, and fabrics. Mud-stained items may be unsalvageable.

  • Rinse or soak cleanable items in disinfecting detergent, then air dry.

  • Discard porous items like mattresses that soaked up floodwater – they can’t be fully restored.

  • Thoroughly clean mud and residue off electronics using alcohol or ammonia wipes before drying.

  • Allow books to air dry upside down without touching each other to prevent mold.

  • Clean and polish wood furnishings once fully dried. Some stains may remain.

Document damage and discard unsalvageable contents for insurance claims if needed.

 

Prevent Future Flood Damage/ Flood Water Damage Restoration

Once your home is fully dried out, cleaned, and restored, it’s smart to take future flood prevention measures. Here are some handy tips:

1.) Improve Drainage

Assess exterior grading and drainage paths around your home. Installing drainage tiles, rain gardens, or re-grading soil can direct future floodwaters away from your property.

2.) Install Sump Pumps

A battery backup sump pump removes groundwater from your home’s perimeter foundation footing drains to prevent interior flooding. This is especially useful for basements.

3.) Waterproof Foundations

Consider sealing concrete basements and crawl spaces using professional waterproofing compounds, membranes, or drainage mats to prevent moisture intrusion.

4.) Landscape for Flood Prevention

Strategically place rain barrels, trees, vegetation, bioswales, and soil erosion control measures to help naturally absorb excess stormwater on your property.

Get Professional Assistance

While it’s possible to handle some flood damage restoration DIY, extensive water damage requires professional assistance. Seeking qualified flood damage repair services is highly recommended in these situations:

  • Major flooding exceeding several inches that saturates materials significantly

  • Suspected structural damage – sagging floors or ceilings, cracks in foundations, etc.

  • Standing black water from sewer/waste backup requiring hazardous material cleanup

  • Presence of mold or dried mud covering walls and building materials

  • Little or no flood insurance coverage for repairs and restoration

Reputable water damage restoration companies have extensive experience successfully drying out flooded homes and restoring them to pre-loss condition quickly and completely. They provide:

  • Advanced drying technology like commercial dehumidifiers, air movers, and vacuum extraction

  • Truck-mounted water removal equipment for rapid floodwater extraction

  • Professional mold remediation adhering to established standards

  • Structural drying techniques to restore flood-damaged buildings

  • Documenting damage for insurance claims

Don’t tackle more than you can handle when restoring a flooded home. Seek reputable water damage restoration experts in your area to properly remediate flood damage beyond your capabilities.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some common questions about drying out a flooded home:

How long does it take for interior walls to dry out after flooding?

It usually takes 2-3 weeks for flooded walls to dry completely, often longer without proper drying techniques. The drying timeframe depends on moisture levels, drying methods used, and the wall materials affected.

Can soaked drywall dry out and be saved?

Unfortunately soaked drywall needs to be cut out and replaced in most cases. Drywall soaks up water deeply through the paper backing, making mold growth inevitable if left to dry naturally without remediation.

What’s the best way to prevent mold growth after a flood?

  • Dry out all affected materials as quickly as possible

  • Disinfect all surfaces touched by flood waters

  • Apply mold inhibitor chemicals like concrobium or borate solutions to vulnerable drywall, wood framing, and insulation materials while drying

How can you tell if walls are still wet internally after drying?

Signs that moisture remains inside walls after initial surface drying include:

  • Dark or bubbled paint & crumbling drywall tape

  • Mold or mildew odor coming from inside walls

  • Moisture meter detecting excess moisture in wall materials

  • New water stains or discoloration reappearing on exterior

  • Musty smell emerging from wall cavities

What should I do if my house floods in the future?

Act quickly if flooding occurs again in the future:

  1. Gather valuables & evacuate if extensive flooding

  2. Call water damage restoration company immediately

  3. Turn off utilities when safe

  4. Take pictures/video for insurance

  5. Remove excess water – pump out, extract, mop up

  6. Open up the house – windows, doors, wall/floor holes

  7. Direct fans & dehumidifiers everywhere

  8. Disinfect surfaces touched by flood water

Following these flood damage restoration tips and guidelines empowers you to take control of the situation, minimize water damage, restore belongings, prevent mold growth, and return your home to normal faster after catastrophic flooding.

Stay safe and make sure to get professional assistance if flood damage exceeds your response capabilities. Your home can recover fully from even heavy flooding damage by taking the right emergency response steps.

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