Six Tips to Deal with Water Damage
Six Tips to Deal with Water Damage
CAMPAIGN: Indoor Air Quality
WHETHER DUE TO A massive flood or just a leaky pipe, water in unwanted places can cause a lot of damage—and maybe more damage than you might think. Of course it can destroy items in a building; but it also can lead to mold growth and compromised air quality.
To get rid of mold, it’s important to remove all water and dry out the affected area quickly and thoroughly. Then, disinfect the area and remove or clean all items that are conducive to mold growth.
Preventing mold is key to keeping a home’s air clean and healthy. Whether a client’s home is filled with two inches of water, or just has a few dark and damp areas, here are some tips to minimize water damage and improve air quality.
- Disconnect the power, unplug electronics, and remove electronics, furniture and all movable items immediately. The faster those items are moved or elevated out of harm’s way, the more likely they can be saved. If possible, turn off power leading into the affected area, especially if water rises above electrical outlets. Pull up all carpets (wall-to-wall and area rugs) and underpadding. It may be possible to save the carpet, as long as it is cleaned and disinfected. However, it’s unlikely to save the underpadding, which acts like a sponge and absorbs a lot of water.
- Get rid of the water. Getting rid of all the water quickly, and drying out the area are the the most important things you can do to prevent mold growth. There are several ways to remove standing water. If the home doesn’t have power, or if loose wires create a problem, the old-fashioned, manual way will work: Use old towels, buckets and mops. If nearby sewers aren’t backed up, pour water down the drain. Otherwise, pour the water on the lawn or other permeable surface.
A wet/dry vacuum can be used, too (note: be very careful to plug it into outlets far away from water). Don’t use an extension cord, as the connection could short out and shock the operator. A more extreme option, of course, is to rent a generator and a “dirty” sump pump and clear the water that way.
- Dry out the affected area. It’s important to dry the area out as soon as possible. Use fans and a dehumidifier. If the outdoor humidity is low, open windows and move air through the building.
If the area is a finished basement, and the drywall is affected, it likely will be necessary to cut away the areas that were touched by water, as the drywall will crumble—and the paper backing is a good source of food for mold. If the area has baseboard trim, remove it first. If the trim is made from wood, it might be salvageable; but if it’s made from pressboard, you most likely won’t be able to save it.
- Disinfect. After the area has dried out—including wood beams, insulation and drywall—use a disinfectant to get rid of any bacteria that might have come through sewers or toilets. Disinfect all areas affected by the flood waters, including walls, wood and non-upholstered furniture. Avoid using bleach, which has harmful fumes and kills just about everything except mold spores. Instead, try EPA-registered mold and mildew disinfectants such as Tough Guy disinfectant spray or Diversey cleaner and disinfectant. Once the area is properly disinfected, it’s important to stop the possibility of future mold growth.
- Prevent mold growth. After the area has been disinfected and completely dried out, apply Concrobium throughout the affected area according to directions. Concrobium is a non-toxic product made with distilled water and inorganic salts that stops mold from growing. It can be used it on furniture, walls and floors—basically anything that is susceptible to mold growth. Once a thin layer of Concrobium is applied, let it dry overnight. As Concrobium dries, it forms a thin layer over any mold that may be growing, which crushes the roots of the spores. Spraying it also prevents any mold from growing, and provides continued resistance to mold. If it’s necessary to spray it on an entire room,
consider renting a mister, which is easy to use and allows for quick application.
- Dispose of damaged items responsibly. It may be tempting to throw everything into a dumpster and send it all away. But organizing damaged goods into piles and taking whatever possible to recycling centers will help alleviate pressure on your local landfill. Go to the management website for the city or town to find out where to recycle old paints, stains, adhesives and other toxic liquid, as well as damaged electronics, furniture and even drywall.