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Flood Checklist: 12 Steps to Take After Water Damage to Your Home

Paige Bennett
Written by Paige Bennett
Updated October 13, 2021
Two-story stucco house with concrete drive
aamrand / iStock / Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

This 12-step flood remediation checklist can help restore your home after flooding

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Water damage and flooding can be devastating for homeowners, and unfortunately, this issue has to be dealt with immediately to prevent mold. While you will likely need to hire a local water damage restoration professional, you can start flood remediation right away. This flood remediation checklist offers everything you need to minimize damage to your home after flooding.

1. Call Your Insurance Companies

Before you do anything, the first step on your flood remediation checklist is to contact your insurance companies about the flood. For your home, you’ll need to contact your homeowners or renters insurance company, and for vehicle damage, contact your car insurance company.

Here’s what you will want to ask:

  • Discuss what your policy covers for floods

  • Ask if the policy covers living expenses if you need to relocate during flood remediation

  • For vehicles, tell the insurance company where the claims adjuster will find the vehicle

  • Ask if your policy covers car rentals

2. Put on Protective Gear

Before you start walking around the flooded property, you should put on protective gear.

Here are the items you should wear before surveying the property:

  • Long-sleeve shirt

  • Mask

3. Document the Damage

Documenting the damage is necessary for insurance claims and disaster relief assistance.

Use the following as guidance to document the damage:

  • Take time-stamped photos and videos of the damage

  • List everything that is damaged

  • List brand names, models, and other helpful descriptors for accurate coverage

  • Make an expense sheet for the damaged items

  • Note how high the water rose in your home

4. Gather Your Documents

There are several important documents you will want to secure if you don’t have them on you already. Some will help for insurance purposes, and others are just important documents to have on you. Only gather the documents if you can safely do so while wearing your protective gear.

Gather the following documents as part of your flood remediation checklist:

  • Mortgage or deed and proof of mortgage payments

  • Drivers’ licenses

  • Social security cards and birth certificates

  • Credit and debit cards

  • List of prescribed medications

  • List of bank account numbers

5. Turn Off Electricity and Gas

Turning off the electricity and gas is important to prevent electrocution or gas leak risks. If you cannot safely reach the electrical box or have to step in water to get to it, don’t touch it. Instead, call an electrician for emergency assistance.

Use these tips to keep you and your family safe:

  • The electrical box handle will only turn off power to circuits, not the box

  • Use an electrical insulator, like a plastic pipe, to turn the fuse box handle off, then pull out the main fuses

  • Unscrew circuit fuse

  • Use the plastic pipe or a wood stick to switch off the main breaker and circuit breaker switches on the breaker box

  • If you suspect a gas leak, leave your home immediately

  • Warn neighbors if you suspect a gas leak and call 911

6. Start Cleanup

Large fans work to dry subfloor after flood
Ceneri / E+ via Getty Images

Once you have on your protective gear and have documented the damage, you can start the initial cleanup phase.

Cleaning up after a flood will include the following tasks:

  • Remove water with buckets

  • Shovel away mud

  • Use hot water and detergent or disinfectant to clean any mold or large areas of dirt

  • Use fans and dehumidifiers to help dry the area

7. Remove Carpets and Furniture

Carpets and furniture caught in a flood are likely unsalvageable, as mold will start growing within 24 hours of the items being wet.

Here’s what to do:

  • Rip up carpets that have water damage

  • Move wet furniture and rugs outside

  • Avoid placing wood furnishings in the sun to dry, as they can warp

  • If furniture has only been wet for a few hours, you may be able to save it by rinsing it with diluted chlorine bleach disinfectants

8. Clean Walls

Wet walls can become a harbor for mold growth, so you’ll want to address this step on your flood remediation checklist quickly. You’ll likely need to replace much of the drywall and insulation after a flood.

Here’s how to clean walls after a flood:

  • Remove drywall and insulation; both will need replaced if they are wet

  • Work up to and about 1 foot above the waterline where the flooding rose

  • For remaining portions of walls, disinfect them with chlorine bleach

9. Clean Floors

To minimize water damage to your home, it’s best to clean your floors within 48 hours of flooding.

Here’s how to clean floors after a flood:

  • Prevent buckling in hardwood floors by removing one board every few feet

  • Scrub floors with a solution of 5 tablespoons washing soda or trisodium phosphate in 1 gallon of water

  • Disinfect floors with diluted chlorine bleach

10. Clean and Dry Personal Belongings

House with flooded yard and flood line visible
michelmond - stock.adobe.com

After a flood, the primary focus is typically on large items, like furniture, and the building itself. But don’t forget that everything in your home will need attention.

Check the following items off your flood remediation checklist:

  • Some items, like mattresses and stuffed animals, are likely unsalvageable. Bag them up and move them outside for the adjuster to review

  • Dry photographs and art and store them away until you can get help from a restoration professional

  • Move clothing, curtains, and other fabrics outdoors until a restoration professional can evaluate whether or not they can be salvaged

  • Move electronics to a safe, dry place. These items are sometimes salvageable with help from restoration professionals

  • Dry and disinfect hard, durable items like vases, dishware, and utensils

11. Address Mold Growth

If you notice mold after a flood, it’s best to work with mold removal specialists to deal with the issue safely.

In cases of smaller areas of mold, here are some tips for how to clean mold, including wearing proper protective gear and using the right disinfectants:

  • Hire a mold removal specialist for extensive mold and mildew damage

  • For small areas, wear an N95-rated or higher mask to protect yourself from mold spores

  • Move items outdoors if possible, then scrub them with a brush or vacuum them to start removing mold

  • Scrub items with a stiff brush and detergent or soap to further remove mold. Avoid cleaners with ammonia

  • Use diluted chlorine bleach to disinfect surfaces after removing mold. The surface should stay wet with disinfectant for 15 minutes for thorough cleaning

12. Keep Air Circulating

The last step on your flood remediation checklist is to keep air circulating. It can take several weeks to completely dry out your home, but you can help speed up the process. To start restoring your home after water damage, it’s important to dry it out as quickly as possible.

Follow these steps:

  • Once the water is removed and it is safe to do so, you can use electricity to run fans and dehumidifiers in the house

  • Keep fans and dehumidifiers running 24/7 to help dry out the home, from your belongings to the walls, ceilings, and floors

  • If the weather is dry and sunny, open windows to help circulate fresh air

  • Turn on air conditioners to help dry out the air

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