Floods, burst pipes and severe storms can all cause a variety of water damage in homes, and while steps can be taken to lessen the impact, water damage is not always easy to prevent. If you find yourself trying to dry out, these cleanup strategies should be at the top of your priority list.
- Provide ventilation. Allowing natural air flow helps water evaporate, as long as the humidity isn’t too high. You can open windows and doors to get the air moving through your house.
- Move air mechanically. In many cases, natural air flow isn’t enough to dry out a water damaged home, and you can rent or buy high-powered fans to boost circulation and speed up the drying-out process.
- Dehumidify. A portable dehumidifier helps remove water vapor from the air, and can be particularly effective if water damage is confined to one or two rooms. Close the windows and doors to the room to help the humidifier do its job, and don’t forget to empty the water drawer when it gets full.
- Pump the water out. A sump pump is a useful tool to get rid of standing water, continuously pumping water out of your house through a pipe or hose. Sump pumps can be bought or rented, and are especially useful if you have several inches or more of standing water.
- Use a shop vac. Some shop vacs are rated for wet conditions, and they can be used to suck water from soaked rugs and carpets, increasing the likelihood that they can be salvaged. Ordinary household vacuums are not protected from water, and should not be used for this purpose.
- Remove wet objects. Large wet items, such as area rugs and furniture, should be taken outside to dry under the sun. Linoleum and sheet vinyl flooring should also be removed to allow the floor to dry.
- Freeze wet paper. If a lot of paper items—books, photos, documents—have been damaged, you can place them inside plastic bags and freeze them. Freezing will stop mold and deterioration, and allow you to dry these items later when you have the time.
- Safety first. If you’re dealing with damage from a burst pipe or flood, you never know what’s floating around in the water. Have face masks, sturdy gloves, clean wash water, hand soap and safety glasses on hand, and use them as you clean up.