Water Damage Restoration Guide – How to Clean Up Your Vancouver Home After A Flood

floodingAside from fire, few worse things can happen to a home than flooding.  Whether due to a natural disaster or a plumbing emergency, a home that’s flooded with water is in deep trouble.  Not only has plenty of damage been done already, but home water damage can be insidious and cause long-term problems that last for months or years.

Should you ever come home to discover a flooded house, smart decision-making will do a lot to mitigate the damage and reduce the costs of repair.  Malkin Cleaners has almost a century of experience as water damage restoration experts in Vancouver.  We know flooding, and we know how to best preserve your home.

Here’s what to do.

How to Best Respond If You Discover Your Home Is Flooded

1 – Find the source of the flooding

If the flood was caused by natural sources like a heavy storm, there’s nothing you can do.   Otherwise, however, step one is figuring out where the water is coming from.  Likely culprits include a burst water main, a broken appliance like a dishwasher, or faucets left running.  Probably the worst-case scenario would be a broken sewer line or septic system.

If possible, shut off the source of flooding.  However…

2 – Do NOT wade into flood water!

There may be a temptation to immediately wade in to save your possessions, or to get to the source of the flooding.  However, this is extremely dangerous.  The water may have risen high enough to come into contact with your electrical system or have live electrical devices in it.  People can and do get electrocuted in this way.

Also, if the flooding is coming from outside the home, or from anything involving sewage, the flood waters could be toxic.  If the water is more than an inch or two deep, don’t go wading in until it’s been cleared by professionals.

3 – If possible, cut the power

One way or another, the power to your home will need to be shut down so that emergency water damage cleanup can happen.  If you can get to your fuse box without touching the water, go ahead and shut down the power.  If you can’t safely shut down the power, just wait.

At the point the power is shut off, and if you’re certain the water came from a clean source, you could potentially go looking for possessions to rescue.  However, we’d still advise against it since there could still be debris and other dangers.

4 – Call your insurance company if it is office hours

As soon as the immediate ongoing damage has been stopped, it’s time to call your insurance company.  You want to do this as soon as possible.  The longer you wait, the more excuses they may have to deny your claim.  Also, there is a good chance that your insurance company will have alliances with approved water damage restoration companies for you to call or other cleanup contractors.

Depending on the circumstances, you may also want to place a call to your local city hall or other civic planning authority.  This would be to report the flooding and find out if there are any specific local regulations you should adhere to.

5 – Call in a 24/7 emergency water restoration company at any hour

The insurance company will work with most accredited restoration companies so do not hesitate to call for help. It is in the insurer’s better interest as well that the damage is attended to with immediacy.

Do not attempt water cleanup by yourself!  This is a job that can only be properly handled by professionals with a lot of specialized gear.  Also, attempting amateur cleanup could potentially give your insurance company reasons to dismiss your claims, by saying you caused damage.  Don’t give them the excuse.

As mentioned above, there’s a good chance your insurance company will tell you who to call.  If not, look for a water damage contractor near you with a good reputation.  Look at their online reviews!  If you’re in a hurry, those are a good guideline.  It’s also a bonus if they’ve been in business for a long time.

6 – While you wait, start documenting the damage 

Do what you can to document the damage even as you await the restoration company, at least as much as you can safely see.  Get plenty of visual evidence!  This will be useful for filing your claims, as well as aiding in the cleanup afterwards.

Be sure to hold onto this documentation.  If it should be decided that negligence caused the flood, it could potentially even become evidence in court.

7 – Remove the water

At this point, you’ll mostly be letting other people do the hard work.  If the power to your home is shut down, and you’re sure the water is safe, you could potentially help remove the water with a sump pump.  However, it’s still probably best to leave it to the pros for a variety of reasons.

The only real reason to try to drain the water by yourself would be if you are remotely located from the restoration company causing a delay in arrival, and of course you have a pumping system!

8 – Start removing damaged items 

Once all the standing water is gone, the hard part begins – going through all the damaged items.  You want to get them out of your house, and into the fresh air where they can dry.  Depending on the situation, saturated items like rugs, clothes, or toys may or may not be salvageable.  If you aren’t sure about the source of the water, don’t risk it.  Buying new clothes is better than giving your child clothing which has been in contact with sewage or runoff.

Soaked carpeting and drywall will also have to be removed, but that is a job for the pros.

Also, do not try to salvage any food.  If it touched the flood water, assume it’s contaminated and throw it out.

9 – Dry your home

Aside from opening the windows to help with ventilation, there will be very little you can do to encourage your home to dry.  That’s one of the specialties of a water damage restoration company – they have huge vacuums and de-humidifier blowers specifically for that purpose.  It would be effectively impossible for you to properly dry out your home on your own as the water will ingress inside the walls and flooring.

So, it is absolutely vital that your home is thoroughly dried out by professionals.  Otherwise, mold and rot could set in – endangering your home and family alike.

10 – Start to rebuild

Your water damage restoration company may only remove soaked items and do the water cleanup.  Rebuilding and replacing damaged areas will have to be done by professional home contractors although it is likely the restoration company with perform this task as well.

This should all be done in consultation with your insurance company in conjunction with the restoration companies.  As with the emergency water damage services, they will probably have home contractors that they are partnered with.

Following your insurance company’s directions precisely will do a lot to help ensure your claims are processed, and you’re reimbursed for the cleanup and renovation.

If You’ve Suffered Emergency Water Damage in Vancouver, Malkin Cleaners Can Help

Malkin Cleaners has been Vancouver’s go-to source for water and fire damage cleanup since 1923.  We’ve helped generations of families and businesses overcome water emergencies and rebuild.

If there’s flooding, don’t wait!  Call (604) 262-2570 at any time of day or night for immediate emergency water damage services.