5 Steps to take if your house is flooded

I once purchased an investment property that I was sure was going to be an ideal rental house. It was in a location where there was high demand for rentals, and it was nice attractive house.

My Shocking Experience

I decided to check out the property one more time on the day before signing the papers. I was in for a shock. When I opened the door, I was hit in the face with an overpowering dank smell that was so thick that I almost couldn’t get into the house. It was like walking underwater.

I looked down and I saw that the carpets were soaked with water. The walls of the house were black. I quickly discovered that the hot water heater was leaking, and had flooded the house.

I will not scream! I will not scream! I will not Aaaahhhhhhhhh!!

Since all the windows and doors tightly closed,  the mother-of-all steam baths had formed inside the house. If I weren’t already as thin as a rail, I probably could have lost 30 pounds in there in 10 minutes.

I Feel a Scream Coming

While I would have had every right to scream like Jamie Lee Curtis in those old “Halloween” movies, to my credit, I didn’t do that. Plus, my two sons were with me at the time, and it would have ruined the image they had of me as a modern-day James T. Kirk, bold captain of the Sprouse family.

Steady as she goes, Mr. Chekov.

Since I’ve now used up my ‘reservoir’ of metaphors to describe this dire situation, let’s get to the steps to address this issue.

5 Steps to Take if Your House is Flooded

1.) Don’t touch the merchandise.

Don’t touch anything that is electric while standing in water. It may be tempting to want to turn on lights and turn off appliances, but don’t do it. You wouldn’t adjust the radio while you are in a bathtub, and your house is now a giant bathtub. If the electrical outlets near the floor are saturated, you should not be in that house.

If the fuse box is in a dry location, turn off the power.

Have an electrician check the system before turning on the power again.

N 95 Mask

If you plan to be inside the house for any amount time, or if you plan to clean up mold, you should wear a N95 mask to wear while you’re there. (See step #5 before donning your mask).

2.) Remove the water.

Open up the doors and windows and let the house air out for at least 30 minutes before spending any time in the house.

Dry out things that got wet. You basically have between 24 to 48 hours to dry out things that have gotten wet, before irreparable damage sets in.

Once the electricity is back on, having been checked by an electrician, you can use a “wet dry” shop vacuum to remove standing water. Wear rubber boots.

Even after the water is pumped out of the house, you must act quickly to avoid the residual damage in walls and under carpets. The imbedded dampness can permanently weaken carpet fibers and soften sheetrock walls.

The most important thing to worry about is mold and mildew. Mold and mildew spores are always present in the air that we breathe and if we only add a little warmth, darkness, and moisture, they become unwelcome house guests.

3.) Get the humid air out.

Use de-humidifiers and fans to remove the excess humidity. Place fans in doors and windows to blow the air out the window, so as not to circulate mold back into the house.

Do not turn the furnace on to dry out the air. This will only increase the humidity and transport the spores throughout the house.

Have your home heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning (HVAC) system checked and cleaned by a maintenance or service professional who is experienced in mold clean-up before you turn it on.

4.) Get rid of carpet padding.

Usually, even though you haven’t passed the 24-48 hour time limit, disaster recovery experts will remove any soaked padding from beneath the carpet and treat the floor and the underside of the carpet with a mildew inhibitor such as Pine Sol.

5. Let the doctors do their job

Outta my way!

The Nexium commercial (to treat heartburn) says, “You wouldn’t want a doctor doing your job,” and a doctor comes trotting out of the bullpen to be the relief pitcher in a professional baseball game, or operates a jack hammer. This principal applies to you and your flooded house too. Unless you are an expert, you probably shouldn’t tackle this project yourself. Because mold and mildew are such dangerous foes, it’s best to call in the pros to handle flooded houses.

The Happy Conclusion to My Story

In the case of the investment property that I mentioned earlier, the water had been in the house for several days (beyond the 24-48 hour limit) and the owner wisely owner hired a mitigation company. The company had to replace all of the carpeting and most of the drywall.  It was almost like a new house when they finished. They tested the air and the spore count for mold and mildew in the house, and when they were finished, the count was lower than the count outside the house.

Although I had cancelled the sale, I made another offer on the house when it came back on the market, and I wound up purchasing the property after all. It was a better house than the first time I bid on it.

Below is a useful video series about dealing with flooded houses. The emphasis is on pretty drastic flooding (way over the 24-48 hours limit), but it covers many important things to consider.

 

Other blog articles that I recommend:

Keeping Your Edge at Louisville Gals

Fearless On Your 30th | Most Manly 30th Birthday Ideas Possible at Fearless Men

Should We Really be Concerned About the Fiscal Cliff? at Frugal Rules

Things I Couldn’t Do If I Had A Car Payment at iheartbudgets

Five Ways to Help your Kids Learn about Money at Frugal Habits

5 Ways to Save Money on College Textbooks at WorkSaveLive

The Joneses? Never met ‘em… at Planting Our Pennies

Stealing From Your Own by Blue Collar Worker

One Nice Benefit Of Being Unemployed: Kindness by Untemplater

Certificates Can Be Better Than Degrees by Modest Money

Friday recap, a festival and a transatlantic flight by Reach Financial Independence

Should You Quit Blogging? by Any Shiny Thing

Things I Could Have Bought with $30,000 Lost to Credit Card Debt at Eyes on the Dollar

Home Depot has really good…Books??? at Young Adult Money

How I Saved at Least $50,000 by Buying New Furniture at Club Thrifty

Should You Rent to Own a Home? at Wealthy Weasle

Super Charge Your Breakfast! #1 at You Refined

Improving your Alexa Rank and Weekly Roundup at Making Sense of Cents

Political Entrepreneurship, or: How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love Obamacare (Part II) at 101 Centavos

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29 Responses to “5 Steps to take if your house is flooded”

  1. I couldn’t help but laugh at your use of pictures in this one!

    But man, flooding is the worst. It takes so long to get that humidity out. It changes your life for weeks!
    Todd – Fearless Men recently posted..Boys Becoming Men: It Doesn’t Happen On AccidentMy Profile

  2. Holy Cow! I hope I never have to deal with this situation, but I guess if you are in investment property long enough, something will flood. If I walked into that house, I wouldn’t be able to call the cleaning/restoration company fast enough. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Good post. I love the pitures/analogies you use in the post. My best friend had his apartment flood years ago and remember it was just a big headache for him. I totally agree with removing the padding, I’ve seen numerous people not do that & they pay for it in the end.
    John S @ Frugal Rules recently posted..Should We Really be Concerned About the Fiscal Cliff?My Profile

  4. What a nightmare! I’m so glad that it worked out for you. Actually, it ended up working out better this way for you!
    Holly@ClubThrifty recently posted..How I Saved at Least $50,000 by Buying New FurnitureMy Profile

    • Terry says:

      Holly,

      Thanks. Luckily, the flood turned out to be fortuitous for me in the long run.

      When things like this happen to me, it makes me reflect on the synchronicity of life.

  5. Untemplater says:

    Oh wow what a shock that must have been. It’s crazy how much damage water can do, yet it’s so critical to our survival.

    Mold is such a problem when there’s water damage, so I’m glad to hear they properly fixed everything up after the leak!
    Untemplater recently posted..2012 Global Entrepreneur Survey: Where Are The Optimists?My Profile

    • Terry says:

      Thanks for that comment.

      Yet, lest we think that the whole world is lined up against mold, I offer the following quote:

      “…after my first feeling of revulsion had passed, I spent three of the most entertaining and instructive weeks of my life studying the fascinating molds which appeared one by one on the slowly disintegrating mass of horse-dung. Microscopic molds are both very beautiful and absorbingly interesting. The rapid growth of their spores, the way they live on each other, the manner in which the different forms come and go, is so amazing and varied that I believe a man could spend his life and not exhaust the forms or problems contained in one plate of manure.”
      — David Fairchild
      The World Was My Garden

  6. Glad there was a good ending to that one! We’ve never had to deal with flooding, but I’m sure if we live in FL long enough it’ll be inevitable at some point.

    Thanks so much for including our post!
    Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies recently posted..The Joneses? Never met ‘em…My Profile

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  8. Your tips are great dude! Couldn’t have said it better myself!
    TB at BlueCollarWorkman recently posted..Blue Collar Halloween TipsMy Profile

  9. UGH! Flooding is the worst possible thing I could think of happening to our house. Luckily, out water heater is in the garage, but out washer isn’t. I really hope it never comes to that, but thanks for the tips.
    Jacob @ iheartbudgets recently posted..How To Create An Emergency BudgetMy Profile

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  14. Excellent post. Especially helpful to consumers is your point about “letting doctors do their job”. Mold removal can be expensive; however, when performed by inexperienced “experts” mold removal costs can soar.

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