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If water paid a visit while you were away . . .

If your home is flooded, here's what to do:

As soon as you're allowed back in the house and an electrician deems it safe to turn on the electricity, turn on the air conditioning to start the movement of cool, dry air throughout the house.

If the AC isn't on, don't open the doors and windows hoping to get some air through the house. The humidity outside is probably higher than inside, and all the wet outside air will make a bad situation worse.

If the house is truly soaked, you may need professional equipment: high-velocity air movers and dehumidifiers. Your home AC and household fans don't have the power to do the job.

Remove soaked carpets and pads. Insurers will regard them as unsalvageable if they've been soaked in water from a storm. (Homeowners insurance does not cover damage from rising water; separate flood coverage is required.)

If you have hard-surface floors (wood or tile), a wet vacuum can help suck up the water.

A hurricane's heavy rains may also cause damage from above. If water penetrates the roof, ceilings may collapse, insulation is soaked, water soaks walls and drips down through air-conditioning vents.

The big post-flooding headache is mold, which thrives in warmth and moisture. Washing surfaces with a bleach solution or painting over mold with primers and shellacs such as Kilz will hide mold, but physical removal is the only real solution. That means cutting out drywall, removing soaked insulation and sanding wood studs.

Vinyl wall covering should be removed. It acts as a vapor barrier so the wall behind it can't dry.

Some homeowners cover everything with plastic after a storm. If furniture and household items are wet under that plastic, you're creating a mini greenhouse where you'll grow a bumper crop of mold. Dry the items before you wrap them in plastic.

If water paid a visit while you were away . . . 05/16/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 16, 2012 11:36am]

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