Wet Weather Recovery

A lot of rain can cause a lot of worry. Extreme wet weather and flash floods can cause serious damage to your home and in turn create unexpected costs & hassle.

The recovery process can be long and arduous, so we've put together a step by step recovery plan to help you get back on your feet.

Cleaning Up

If you are unlucky enough to be the victim of flooding, you will need to get your home back to habitable condition.

Draining the water

Once the floodwater has subsided clear standing water as quickly as possible. A water pump is essential, and you will need a portable generator if there is no mains electricity supply.

If there is a mains supply available, remember to use an RCD adaptor if using an electric pump.

Only pump out water when flood levels outside your property are lower than inside to reduce the risk of structural damage. It's a good idea to contact a structural engineer before pumping very deep water from basements.

A good quality pump should last around 10 years, depending on how often it is used and the acidity and dirtiness of the water. If you live in an area prone to flooding it's a good idea to regularly check and test your pump.

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Top Tip

Safety first. After flood damage it is very important that you get the electrical and gas systems checked by a registered professional before you attempt to use them again.

Even if they appear to work, they may have been damaged by water or mud, and could be dangerous.

Top Tip

Before you start cleaning up, take photos of the damage and mark the highest level of the floodwater on your wall. This will help when you make your insurance claim.

Removing wet furnishings

Remove anything that is wet from the house. Take furniture, rugs, bedding and clothing outside to dry as soon as possible. This includes any flood protection equipment you have used; remove this as quickly as possible to help speed up the drying out process.

A builder's tub or Hippo Bag will be useful when removing wet furnishings quickly.

If mould and mildew have already developed on furnishings, brush them off while outdoors to prevent scattering spores in the house

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Top Tip

Don't hurt yourself. Items are much heavier when wet. Don't try to move large objects by yourself.

Carpet Cleaning

Clean and dry carpets and rugs as quickly as possible. If sewage contaminated floodwater covered your carpeting, discard it for health & safety reasons. Also discard if the carpet was under water for more than 24 hours.

To clean:

  • Drape carpets and rugs outdoors and hose them down.
  • Work a disinfecting carpet cleaner into soiled spots with a broom.
  • To discourage mildew, odours and mould, rinse with a solution of 2 tablespoons bleach, 4.5 litres of water. Don't use this solution on wool or nylon carpets.
  • Make sure the carpet or rug is dried thoroughly before replacing the carpet.
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Top Tip

If you don't have the equipment to thoroughly clean your carpet, you can rent the RugDoctor from B&Q.

Starting the cleanup

Floodwater is usually dirty and can contain sewage, chemicals and other contaminants. Don't forget to invest in protective waterproof clothing before you start cleaning.

Infants, pregnant women and people with health problems should avoid the flooded area until cleanup is complete.

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Shovel out as much mud as possible, and then use a garden sprayer or hose to wash away mud from hard surfaces. It might be a good idea to invest in a pressure washer to ensure stubborn, contaminated mud is fully removed.

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Tackle one room at a time. A two bucket approach is most efficient: use one bucket for rinse water and the other for the cleaner.

Clean and disinfect every surface. Scrub surfaces with hot water and a heavy-duty cleaner. Disinfect surfaces with Jeyes fluid whilst they are still damp to stop mould and mildew forming, and to eliminate smells. It is especially important that you wear your protective clothing, especially gloves, whilst doing this.

In the kitchen

  • Immerse glass, porcelain, china and plastic dinnerware, and enamelware, for 10 minutes in a disinfecting solution. Dishes should be air dried; do not use a towel.
  • Disinfect silverware, metal utensils and pots and pans by boiling in water for 10 minutes. Bleach and other disinfectants should not be used in this case as it may cause your utensils to darken.
  • Cupboards and counters need to be cleaned and rinsed with a disinfecting solution before being used to store dishes and utensils again.

In living rooms

  • Upholstered furniture soaks up contaminants from floodwaters and should be cleaned only by a professional.
  • Water damaged wood veneered furniture is usually not worth the cost and effort of repair. Solid wood furniture can usually be restored, unless damage is severe.
  • Mattresses should be thrown away.
  • Toys and stuffed animals may have to be thrown away if they have been contaminated by flood waters.
  • There's a danger of electric shocks when dealing with electric appliances, such as TV sets and radios. Make sure you check the labels on the back of any devices.
  • Professional cleaning is recommended for electronics such as washing machines, dryers, dishwashers and vacuum cleaners, as well as certain TV systems.
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Top Tip

Photographs, books and important papers can be frozen and cleaned later. They should be dried carefully and slowly. Wash the mud off and store the articles in plastic bags and put them in a frost-free freezer to protect from mildew and further damage until you have the time to clean them.

Drying Out

Before you can move back into your home and start redecorating, your home will need to dry out completely.

Drying out may take several weeks, or even months, depending on the severity of the flooding and the materials your home is made from. Thorough drying can be done in 2 stages:

  1. Drying - removing water into the atmosphere. Speed up the process by heating the house, and open the windows for ventilation. An electric heater can help this process but check the electricity supply first.

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  2. De-humidifying - after the initial drying process, invest in a dehumidifier to reduce the moisture in your home. Dehumidifiers are designed to reduce the amount of moisture in room air. They do this by drawing excess moisture from the air - helping to combat condensation, mould and damp on the wall, as well as peeling paint & wallpaper.

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To get the best from a dehumidifier, it's a good idea to vacuum beforehand - so you're not spreading around irritating dust particles, or clogging up the air filter (if your dehumidifier has one). Set the dehumidifier away from walls, furniture and curtains and empty the collected water out of the dehumidifier after every use, especially before moving it to another room.

Speed up the process by closing all external doors and windows.

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Open all doors to speed up the process. Open cupboard and cabinet doors, and remove drawers to allow air circulation.

Ceilings & walls

  • Low permeability wall coatings, like vinyl wallpaper, gloss paint and tiling, will slow down drying of masonry partitions and could cause rotting in timber stud partitions. Remove them from at least one side of internal walls to speed up the drying process.
  • Plaster and panelling can often be saved, but air must be circulated in the wall cavities to dry the studs and sills.
  • Remove the skirting boards and cut or drill holes through the plasterboard or dry-lining to drain out trapped water and to aid drying out. If the plasterboard or dry-lining are beginning to distort remove up to at least the high water mark, let the timber studs dry out and then replace.
  • Remove any insulation that has become wet as it will retain water and slow the drying out process. It may need to be replaced as it tends to reduce in thickness and effectiveness.
  • Wear protective equipment (e.g. clothing, gloves, goggles and a face mask) when removing fibreglass insulation as it is an irritant.
  • Cavity wall insulation may have become damaged by flooding. If you think that this is the case, seek expert advice - you may have to have the insulation replaced by specialist contractors.
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Flooring and floor tiles may need to be removed to allow thorough drying.

Wooden floors should be dried gradually. Sudden drying could cause cracking and/or splitting. Hardwood floor boards should be removed to prevent buckling; remove a board every few feet to remove buckling caused by swelling. Clean and dry wood thoroughly before attempting repairs.

If carpet can't be removed and cleaned, dry as quickly as possible using a wet/dry vacuum cleaner and dehumidifier. Use a fan to circulate the air above the carpet and, if possible, lift the carpet to ventilate with fans underneath.

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Repairing damage

Depending on the extent of the damage, you may need to get a builder, structural engineer or surveyor in to look at your home and advise you on what repair work needs to be carried out.

A structural assessment of the building can be made by:

  • Start at the top: roofs are a good indicator of structural damage. Look at the ridge of the roof from a distance rather than close up, to asses whether it has changed.
  • Check the walls: this can be done by eye or with a spirit level
  • Displacement: Look for bulging or dislodged sections of the building fabric/structure
  • Scouring: Look for deep scouring which has led to the foundations being exposed
  • Cracks: Check for any new cracks bigger than 5mm (or 1/4 ") above doors or windows

It is important to make regular checks for damage, at least once a day, as it may take a while for some damage to become apparent.

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Safety First

Do not use ladders during adverse weather conditions. When weather is suitable, the safest ladder to use is a heavy duty triple extension ladder. Place the bottom quarter of its total height away from the base of the house. Make sure it is on firm flat ground and not tilting left or right, and at least 3 rungs should be overlapping for stability. Always have someone holding the ladder at the bottom.

Insurance claims - don't get caught out

Be sure you're protected - contact the insurance company that holds your homeowners' policy to be sure your home is adequately protected in the event of flooding, or damage caused by other extreme weather.

Don't be tempted to throw away damaged furniture, carpets and other belongings until your insurance company has given you the go ahead. If it's dirty and needs to be outside the house, store in garages or sheds until you're given the go-ahead to get rid.

Make sure you get the go-ahead from your insurance company before you hire any contractors. Most insurance companies have a list of approved builders, joiners and other contractors, but you can choose your own contractors if you wish. B&Q Homefit are able to find you an approved tradesman in your local area.

It's worth remembering that, in the event of any dispute over work, it'll be easier to sort things out if you've hired a contractor approved by your insurance company.

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Prepare for the future

If you are at risk of flooding again, you can consider replacements which will be more resistant to damage:

  • Floor tiles as opposed to carpet and laminate wood flooring.
  • Electrical sockets - raise to a height of at least 1.5m in ground level rooms to prevent further damage.
  • Use lime plaster instead of gypsum plaster on walls.

Redecorating should be left for at least three months after repairs have finished. Painting or papering too soon may result in mould, blistering and peeling. When repainting emulsion, staining may occur but this can be avoided by using an oil-based or stain-block paint before final painting.

Safety First

Avoid dangerous road conditions. If you are unable to pick up from a store, B&Q home delivery services can take away some of the hassle. Simply order your goods over the phone, or online via the website, and book in a delivery slot.

If you are unfortunate enough to be in temporary accommodation, your order can be delivered to an alternative address other than your usual home address.

Top Tip

Products that resist water damage:

  • Concrete, concrete block or glazed brick
  • Clay, concrete or ceramic tiles
  • Galvanized or stainless steel nails, hurricane clips, connectors (in areas subject to salt water flooding)
  • Vinyl and rubber floor covering with waterproof adhesive
  • Metal doors and window frames
  • Stone, slate or cast stone (with waterproof mortar)
  • Styrofoam insulation
  • Water resistant glue