If April showers bring May flowers, what does March snow melt bring? Wet basements, of course – and few homeowners find the rainy season as pleasant as budding flora.
Flooding ranks in the top 3 most common types of home damage as a result of storms. Wind and hail damage complete the unhappy trio.
“Even a little water damage can be upsetting, and major flooding can be devastating,” says Angie’s List Founder Angie Hicks. “The key for a quick recovery is to put safety first, but act fast and act smart.”
Angie's List, the nation's premiere provider of consumer reviews
on local service companies, including experts in resolving water damage, plumbing and drainage and wet basement issues, went to the experts to determine what homeowners should do if heavy rains or snow melt is making a visible presence in their homes.
“Few of us are equipped to properly deal with water damage
or its aftermath,” Hicks said. “One of the worst feelings is thinking you’ve corrected the situation only to find mold growth or structural damage. This is clearly a time for a professional service call – if only for advice on what needs to be done.”
For homeowners in the midst of a flooded home, safety has to come first, Hicks says, offering seven steps for the initial response:
1. Don’t enter rooms with wet, sagging ceilings or water above electrical outlet level.
2. If it’s safe to do so, turn off circuit breakers supplying electricity to wet areas. Unplug and remove any small electrical devices.
3. Review your insurance policy to understand if you’re even covered. Call your agent to get the process. Take photos so you can detail damage for your claim.
4. Check Angie’s List to find a highly rated restoration company who will assess and inspect the situation and offer a free estimate for cleanup.
5. Move wet items to a dry area as soon as it’s safe to do so. Remove as much excess water from furniture, etc. as possible by wiping, blotting and mopping to minimize mold growth. Place aluminum foil or wood blocks under the legs of furniture to prevent staining. Use wooden clothespins to keep furniture skirting off damp floors, and hang draperies with a coated hanger to avoid contact with wet carpeting or floors. Remove and prop up wet upholstery cushions for even drying.
6. Remove area rugs, books, magazines, newspapers, shoes or any other objects from the floor that could transfer stains to the carpet. Remove to a safe place any paintings, art objects, computers, documents and other materials that are valuable or sensitive to moisture. Remove wet fabrics and dry them as soon as possible. Hang furs and leather goods to dry separately at room temperature.
7. Check Angie’s List for reputable contractors who can tell you if you have a structural issue that, if addressed, will minimize another flooding experience.
Angie’s List also went to the experts for tips on preventing flooding:
• Check your gutters to be sure they are installed correctly and that you have enough downspouts to push water away from your foundation. Make sure your downspouts are connected to non-perforated drain tiles. If you have water pooling, something’s wrong.
• Clean your gutters regularly so water flows freely.
• Clear debris from your window wells to allow proper drainage.
• Have interior and exterior drains cleaned yearly to minimize clogging or caving in. This is especially important if your house was built in the 1960’s or before when clay pipes were commonly used – they collapse easier than today’s pipes.
• Seal cracks and holes in concrete block walls.
• Never pile up snow against your house.
• Ensure landscaping slopes away from your home and foundation so that surface water will run away from your home and not toward your basement or foundation.
• Check for water leaks where pipes enter the basement.
• Install a sump pump and a battery back-up system for times of power loss or if the primary pump mechanically fails.
• Turn off the main water valve before you leave on a long vacation. Pressure can build in weak lines that have constant water flow, like washing machine water supply lines, toilet water supply and refrigerator water lines, causing them to break and possibly leading to major damage.
• Paint basement walls with specialized waterproofing paint.
• Routinely check inside cabinets and other areas where pipes are concealed for signs of leakage.
• Watch your water bill for unexpected jumps in usage.
• Disconnect outside water hoses in the winter and shut off the inside water valve.
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