Water Damage Restoration & Clean Up Checklist
- Inspect for structural and electrical damage from outside to determine if it is safe to enter.
- Electrical safety is extremely important in floods. Check for fire hazards and gas leaks. Use battery-powered light sources.
- Never mix chlorine bleach with ammonia or vinegar.
- Wear sturdy shoes, rubber gloves, and eye protection.
- Be watchful for fire ants, snakes, or other animals.
Make sure that everyone is out of danger of new flood crests, fire, and falling buildings. Assume flood water and flooded materials are contaminated.
1. Flood Insurance Claims
If you have flood insurance, contact your insurance adjuster immediately.
- Begin cleanup, salvage, and drying as soon as possible. Do not wait for adjuster. Take photos for use as an inventory. All steps suggested on this page can be taken before an adjuster arrives.
- Clean house so the adjuster can see the damage.
- Keep damaged materials for proof of loss.
- Leave a phone number where you can be reached when the adjuster arrives.
- The adjuster will assess damages to the house. The owner should sign a proof of loss statement. Additional damage can be added when found.
- Contact governmental offices for information.
- If you do not have flood insurance, your homeowner’s insurance likely will not cover the loss. If the flood has been declared a federal disaster by the President, apply for assistance online at http://www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA(3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired.
2. Electrical Systems
Be sure all electric and gas services are turned off before entering the premises for the first time.
Download and carefully review the publication, “Evaluating Water-Damaged Electrical Equipment,” by NEMA.org.
Have an electrician check for grounds and other unsafe conditions before reconnecting the system.
3. Food and Water Sanitation
Until your local water company, utility, or public health department declares your water source safe, purify your water, not only for drinking and cooking, but also for washing any part of the body or dishes.
- Water: Strain water through a clean cloth or filter; then boil water vigorously for a full minute; let cool. If boiling is not possible, use fresh unscented liquid chlorine bleach (8 drops or 1/8 tsp/gallon of clear water; 16 drops or 1/4 tsp/gallon of cloudy water); stir; let stand 30 minutes. Iodine and purification tablets are not recommended.
- Food: Undamaged, commercially-prepared foods in all-metal cans or retort pouches can be saved if you remove the labels, thoroughly wash the cans, rinse them, and then disinfect them with a sanitizing solution consisting of 1 tablespoon of bleach per gallon of potable water. Finally, re-label containers that had the labels removed, including the expiration date, with a marker.
- Utensils: Discard flood-contaminated wooden cutting boards and spoons, plastic utensils, baby bottles, nipples, and pacifiers. Thoroughly wash metal and ceramic pans, utensils, and dishes with hot soapy water and sanitize by boiling them in clean water or by immersing them for 15 minutes in a solution of 1 tsp chlorine bleach/quart water.
4. Furnishings and Carpets
Remove all furniture, bedding, and carpeting to outdoors to be cleaned and dried (or discarded).
- Flooded carpets and rugs are best replaced since flood water may contain contaminants. Flooded carpet pads should always be discarded and replaced.
- Remove water-logged rugs, carpets, and pads within 48 hours after flooding subsides.
- If salvage is attempted, spread out rugs and carpets outdoors. Hose off. If soiled, professionally clean or work in carpet shampoo with a broom. Rinse well with a solution of 1 gallon water and 2 tablespoons liquid household chlorine bleach to sanitize (if colorfast). If carpet is wool, do not add bleach.
- Dry the carpet and subfloor thoroughly as quickly as possible. If carpet is installed damp, it can mildew.
- Carpet might shrink, but a professional may be able to stretch it.
- All upholstered furniture and mattresses contaminated by flood water should be discarded. If an upholstered furniture piece is valuable, the stuffing and upholstering will need to be replaced. Solid wood, metal and plastic furniture may be cleaned and restored. Hose off any mud, clean, sanitize and let dry completely out of direct sunlight.
Open flooded walls, even if they appear undamaged, to prevent mold, odor, and structural decay later.
- Remove water from the structure as rapidly as possible. Ventilate.
- Remove baseboards, and cut holes in wallboard to drain uninsulated walls.
- Remove the interior surface of insulated walls to a point above water height. Discard flooded drywall.
- Undamaged paneling may be propped open or reinstalled after cleaning.
- Remove and discard all wet fibrous insulation.
- Clean out mud. Wall studs and plates may be sprayed with disinfectant (1 cup bleach/gallon water) to kill any existing mold and fungi.
- Speed dry with dehumidifiers and fans.
- Leave walls open until they have thoroughly dried, which may take up to a month.
- Select replacement materials that will withstand future floods (such as rigid foam insulation, removable wainscoting, ceramic tile, etc.).
If mold is present, wear a respirator that can filter spores.