During a flood cleanup, the indoor air quality in your home may not be your first priority. However, failure to remove contaminated materials and to remove all moisture may present serious long-term health risks. Standing water and wet materials are a breeding ground for microorganisms such as viruses, bacteria, and mold. Lingering allergic reactions and poor respiratory health might continue long after the flood.
Experts in water damage remediation are the best resource for assessing and repairing water damage. A small part of a room that suffered a small leak requires a much different process than contaminated sludge absorbed up into the walls. Damaged hardwood, stone, and concrete materials require specialty drying processes. Professional restoration teams consider the long-term health effects of your wet home and address air quality during your clean up.
Act quickly! Standing water is a breeding ground for microorganisms, which can become airborne and be inhaled. Floodwater could contain sewage or even decaying carcasses so infectious disease is an immediate concern. Even when flooding is due to clean water, the growth of microorganisms can cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals: children, older adults and those with compromised immune systems. Professional pumps and vacuums will remove standing water much faster than a shop vac, which lessens the opportunity for mold and mildew to grow.
Excess moisture in the home is an indoor air quality concern for three reasons:
It can be difficult to throw away items in a home, particularly those with sentimental value. However, keeping items that were soaked by water may be unhealthy. In general, materials that are wet and cannot be thoroughly cleaned and dried within 24-48 hours should be discarded. In order to save certain building materials (for example, wallboard, fiberglass insulation, and wall-to-wall carpeting that were soaked only with clean rainwater), get expert advice on what to remove and replace to avoid indoor air quality problems.
In addition, disposable filters in your HVAC should be replaced. If a filter was designed to be cleaned with water and was in contact with clean rainwater only, ensure that it is thoroughly sanitized before reinstalling.
Carpeting, clothing, and drapery and all personal belongings need to be cleaned and sanitized to prevent unwanted mold and bacterial growth. Walls, floors, closets, and shelves must be disinfected. Remediation teams might also bring in air scrubbers to remove particles and moisture from the air.
Common household cleaning products and disinfectants can contain toxic substances. Read and follow label instructions carefully; mixing certain types of products produces toxic, deadly fumes. Provide fresh air by opening windows and doors. If safe, use fans both during and after the use of sanitizing products.
Don’t forget to contact a professional remediation team to make sure that your home is safe enough for occupancy after a flood.