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Flood Damage – What to Do After the Dry Out
Article by David Selter
So your flooded house is finally dried out, the cleanup is complete, and now you’re waiting for the contractor to begin the rebuilding. That could be quite a wait. You just experienced how hard it was to get a company to start the flood restoration for you during the area wide flooding, and it will be just as hard to find a construction contractor now that everyone needs one. This can be a very risky time for your home. Look around. Most likely the drywall and insulation has been removed from your walls. No insulation or drywall on the exterior walls can pose a serious problem. Humid outside air can easily enter your home causing the indoor humidity to rise. Another issue is your air conditioner. When your house flooded, the condenser, the part that sits outside, may have also been partially or completely submerged. A poorly or non-operating air conditioning system will add to the humidity.
Unfortunately the discomfort you will feel from the high humidity is the least of your problems. The humid air coming in through the walls from the outside will continue to increase the levels of moisture in the air until it begins condensing on everything it touches in the house. If this condition is not remedied soon, the condensation will begin to promote the growth of mold. Now the flood damage that you finally had cleaned up will be followed by mold damage. The mold situation will happen even faster if your air conditioner is not removing at least some of the moisture from the air.
So the first thing to do is get your ac checked and/or repaired and make sure that you run it at a reasonable temperature. You can get an ac repair company fairly quickly even after area wide flooding. The next thing is to install at least insulation, and preferably insulation and drywall on the exterior walls as soon as possible. Some people let the contractor know that they realize how busy they are and that they can’t do the entire rebuild immediately, but that they will pay them to just install the drywall and insulation for now without finishing or painting it. Many contractors will do this if you agree to let them do the rest of the rebuild for you later. If all else fails, purchase the insulation yourself at a box store and staple it in place on the exterior walls. It’s not the perfect solution but everything helps. And if your air conditioner is running properly, DO NOT leave your doors and windows open. The outside humid air is your enemy.
Spend a few dollars and buy a hygrometer to frequently check your humidity levels. Ideally the RH (Relative Humidity) should be 50% or lower, and it should never be 60% or higher. Mold will typically begin to grow once the humidity rises and remains above 60%. If you haven’t been able to do enough to keep the humidity in check, call the restoration company you used to handle the original flood damage. By this point after the flooding they should have plenty of dehumidifiers on hand again, and you can see what kind of deal they will give you to install one or two in your home until you can get the rebuild done. Do everything you can to control the humidity in your home during this period and avoid the costs and hassle of further damage.