How To Handle Flood Damage Cleanup For Your Business
Flooding is becoming increasingly common in the United States as a result of changing weather patterns, but floods can also occur as a result of a faulty plumbing system. If your business is in a location that is prone to storms and heavy rainfall, there may come a day when you experience flood damage. This can result in high-cost, time-consuming cleanup. Thus, it’s important to know what kind of scenario you’re facing so you can be prepared for it.
Not sure where to start? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Let’s look at everything you need to know about commercial flood damage cleanup.
Steps to Take After Flood Damage
Cleaning up flood damage isn’t as simple as grabbing a shop vac and removing all the water from the interior. In some cases, the water could be so deep that it’s difficult to navigate. Flood water is full of contaminants that are unsafe to encounter, making the process even more difficult. The first step you should take is:
Contact Your Insurance Provider
If you live in a flood-prone location, it’s imperative that you have flood insurance. Once the storm has subsided and you’re able to enter the building again, contact your provider before you do so.
While your claim is being processed, you should then take as many photographs of the damage as you can to receive the maximum amount of compensation.
Before You Enter The Building, Call An Electrician
Even when the flood is over, the danger is still present. The contaminated water isn’t always the only issue. Electrical hazards pose a serious threat to people returning to a flooded property.
Before you go inside your office, it’s imperative that all the electric and gas systems are turned completely off. Even if you have access to the systems’ controls, it’s best to hire an electrician to check the surrounding area and interior or you could face a serious risk of electric shock that could land you in the hospital (or worse).
The Flood Damage Restoration Process
Before you do anything else, it is imperative to stop any more water from entering your commercial property. This is more related to a flood from a burst pipe than one that’s due to natural causes.
When you have a flood from a burst water pipe, you have to turn off the water supply. If you’re unsure how to turn off that supply, you can call your local water supply company or a professional plumber. They’ll be able to assist you in stopping the leak immediately.
The Flood Damage Restoration Process
After the leak has been stopped, or water has stopped coming into your building, it’s time to begin the flood damage restoration process. Because time is of the essence, you should begin taking these steps right away. The longer you wait to begin the process, the higher the likelihood that more damage is done and you’ll pay more for the damages. In addition, further damage can increase business interruption, thus affecting the bottom line of your business.
Insurance Company Coordination
Most company insurance policies should protect your business in the case of a flood caused by plumbing. For floods caused by natural disasters, you’ll have to have flood insurance to help recover your losses.
In the case of the former, be sure that you know your insurance policy before starting any work. Your claim will be dependent on the details of that policy, so you’ll want to ensure you’re following it closely.
While contacting your insurance to understand the process and start your claim should be your first step, remember that getting the damage assessed is time-sensitive. In fact, most insurance policies will include a provision that you begin the commercial flood damage restoration process as soon as possible to receive full coverage.
Your insurance might even be able to provide you with a list of preferred companies that you can work with (and trust). However, in most cases, you are able to choose the contractor or company that you feel most comfortable with. Just be sure to check their credentials before hiring them.
Flood Damage Inspection & Assessment
After understanding your insurance policy, you should call a commercial flood damage restoration expert. Before taking any further steps, they’ll perform an inspection of your commercial property. The purpose of the inspection is to assess the damage as well as provide a timeline and a cost.
Your flood damage restoration professional has special tools to evaluate the extent of the damage and the knowledge involved in fixing it. They’ll measure the moisture content of the affected areas or rooms and create a plan with those measurements. These tools are usually rested or inserted into floors, baseboards, as well as ceilings.
After they’ve finished their inspection, they may suggest you begin packing out your employees’ personal items to prepare for the rest of the process. You may also have to remove contaminated items from the building or facility.
Extract Standing Water
To remove any standing water, your commercial flood damage restoration experts will use shop vacuums. This special vacuum sucks up any standing water that may seep into floors, walls, or other places. Typically, this stage of the process is dependent on what’s being dried, the size of the space and the amount of water that’s being removed.
Handling The Interior
After all standing water has been removed, the actual cleanup and restoration process begins.
Furniture & Fabrics
All of the affected furniture and fabrics must be removed from the building during cleanup. Unfortunately, there is a strong chance that anything saturated in flood water for an extended period will have to be thrown away. Any furniture that is porous may have to be discarded due to becoming soaked with contaminated water.
When drying furniture, direct sunlight can often cause the integrity to warp. So, you’ll have to let it air dry or use fans/dehumidifiers. Unfortunately, it may be weeks (or even months) before it’s back to normal.
Attempting to salvage walls is not an easy process. You’ll need to take the walls apart, remove any wet insulation, and attempt to dry them as quickly as possible to prevent mold.
Fans and dehumidifiers can help speed the process up, but it will likely take weeks before you’re able to put the walls back together. Cutting holes in the wallboard may also be necessary in order to drain any remaining water.
Floors & Carpet
Until the water is removed from the flooded property, you won’t be able to work on the floors. But, even after the water is removed, you still have a significant task ahead of you. Depending on the type of material that you have (such as layered plywood), the floor may experience swelling. If this occurs, you’ll have to replace the affected segments, as you’ll lose stability in the floor.
Tile will only pose an issue if water has seeped into spaces between the material. If this occurs, you’ll most likely find yourself having to remove the tile so that any remaining water can dry. Concrete floors, however, should dry on their own without an issue.
If you wish to try and salvage carpet, you’ll need to make sure you dry it as quickly as possible to prevent mold from growing. Thorough cleaning with carpet shampoo and bleach is also a must.
Drying out the Affected Areas
After all standing water has been removed, the commercial flood damage restoration professional will determine the moisture content in your property. If moisture is present and the affected areas require drying equipment, dehumidifiers will be brought in. The amount of time the dehumidifiers are needed depends on the source of the leaks and how long the water was present.
Monitoring the Flood Damage Restoration Process
To ensure that your drying process is going well, your commercial flood damage restoration crew will monitor the progress. That means they’ll need to stop by as long as the drying components are in your building or facility.
They’ll check the dehumidifiers as well as humidity levels to be sure everything is going as it should. They’ll also take the same measurements that were taken during your inspection. When the crew is confident that your property is free of water and back to a dry state, they’ll remove the equipment.
Take Preventive Measures Against Mold
This is one of the most important steps that you can take, as mold can cause significant health issues over time if left unchecked. If you don’t have access to power yet, leaving doors and windows open can help speed up the process. If the affected area is a basement, however, there isn’t much you can do until you’re able to bring in fans.
If you find that mold has already begun to grow in your office building or facility, it’s important that you avoid spreading the spores while you clean. If furniture and other items are affected, wear a respirator and scrub them outdoors. This will ensure that you don’t breathe in any harmful substances and prevents the spores from lodging into other surfaces.
Flood Damage Restoration Consultation
Recovering after a commercial flood can be overwhelming and involved. If your property suffers damage from a flood, you should seek professional help right away. The sooner you begin the flood damage restoration process, the less likely that more damage will occur.
Since 1948, we have been helped thousands of businesses restore, rebuild, and recover their property after flood damage. To mitigate costs and the time it takes to restore your commercial property to normal, contact one of our locations for your inspection today.