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Recovering from a flood involves drying and decontaminating the home as quickly as possible after the flood recedes. Materials like carpet, sheetrock, ceiling tile, insulation, and fiberglass ducts are almost never salvageable because they can’t be decontaminated. Therefore, the first job is to rip out these wet materials and get them out of the home. If interior sheetrock was submerged, cut a horizontal line at least 12 inches above the flood level and remove it with the wall insulation.
The home’s ducts along with its furnace and air conditioner must be cleaned and decontaminated or replaced. The furnace and air conditioner controls are particularly sensitive to water and may be damaged beyond repair.
The exception is that many outdoor air conditioning and heat pump units are sealed and may just need a good cleaning.
Find out as much as you can about the extent of damage yourself with the counsel of an electrician or heating-and-cooling specialist, before deciding between repair and replacement.
Decontaminating the home requires washing all its surfaces contacted by flood waters or mud.
Use a 5% to 10% chlorine bleach solution. A 5% solution is sufficient for lighter contamination when you can decontaminate quickly after flood waters recede.
Use 10% for heavier contamination when the microbe community has had a few days or more to incubate. To insure success, wash the surfaces twice within 30 minutes with the bleach solution.
If the weather is warm, move as much air as possible through the home’s open windows with large fans. Window fans work better for exhausting air than for pushing air into the home. Locate the fans to work with, not against, any prevailing winds. If the weather is colder, use heaters, electric dehumidifiers, and partially open windows to dry the home. After the initial drying period, strive to keep the humidity below 60% with dehumidifiers and heaters or with your air conditioner, depending on the season.
After a flood, appliances like dehumidifiers and window fans may be in short supply. Home owners living in areas with any flood history would be wise to buy one or two fans and dehumidifiers and store them near the ceiling when not in use. They can save your home after a flood.