When Your House Floods in Houston
When your house floods in Houston, no matter the cause, whether ground water, plumbing leak, or floods caused by rising waters, you should follows some best practices really fast. Hopefully within 24 hours to keep your home safe and give your family the best outcome possible with your insurance company.
Avoid Additional Risks
If you had to leave your home, there were safety issues. Be safe when you come back. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) suggests you:
- Check for any visible structural damage, such as warping, loosened or cracked foundation elements, cracks, and holes before entering the home; and
- Contact utility companies if you suspect damage to water, gas, electric, and sewer lines.
Have a working flashlight and turn off the water and every electrical device you can find. Go to the breaker box and turn off the main, plus all of the individual breakers. That way, when power is restored, you’re in control as you power back up your house. Quite important when there might be standing water.
Take Pictures when your house floods in Houston
Before removing any water or make any repairs, fully document the damage for your insurer by taking photos or video. More is always better. Don’t worry about quality, just document, document, document. Take pictures to prove every point you can think of. If you fail to document before you start cleaning up and repairing things, you could face the prospect of decreasing your settlement. The insurance company has guidelines that don’t always favor you. Assume the worse, and document. Photos usually work best, but video with commentary is also good to have.
Guard Your Health!
Even if the water in your home appears clear, it can easily be contaminated by sewage and/or caustic chemicals. Wearing hip-waders is ideal. In addition, rubber gloves protects you when removing water-damaged possessions. Especially, throw out any food that may have come into contact with flood waters. FEMA recommends boiling water until authorities declare the water supply is safe.
Call Your Insurance Company
Because all your records are in turmoil when your house floods in Houston, keep your insurance company’s and local agent’s phone numbers on your phone. Many people have ICE (in case of emergency) numbers. These are good for all your insurance agents. (Note that the flood insurance agency (NFIP) works through private insurance companies, so the agent you purchased the flood insurance policy from is the one you call to make a claim. They will refer you to the proper NFIP number and in the case of a hurricane you likely will have a private contractor (this is good) assigned to your claim. If it’s a hurricane, your agent might be indisposed. In that case, you can go up the line with the insurance company’s information you can find online.
Know that flood damage from rising water typically isn’t covered by conventional homeowners insurance policies. You might need to prove the source of flooding, you’ll need to work with your insurer to determine the cause of the flood and the extent of your coverage.
The insurance company will want to know the condition of your home and any repairs you need to do immediately when your house floods in Houston. Before doing anything, ask the insurance company. Their direction whether to wait for an adjuster to inspect the property before making repairs can be the difference between you getting money and not. Of course, document the damage and conversations at every stage of the process.
When can you expect to get back to normal? It could be months if you’re working with an insurance adjustor and contractor to complete extensive repairs. Be patient, and enjoy life during this process.
Please note: While you want to contact your insurance company quickly and let them know what you’re doing in beginning to clean, please see the picture below and follow the link to FEMA’s instructional web site. Inform your insurance company, but Don’t Wait.
Check the Web to See if You’re in a Disaster Area
When a region has declared a “disaster area” by government authorities, property owners have access to increased resources, including public services to protect and remediate the area. In addition, you may have access to financial assistance. Your insurance company will have additional information on this or you can contact FEMA directly.
After the OK from your insurer to remove the water, use a sump pump or whatever pump you can find. Get to know your neighbors. Many volunteers are usually out during major event cleanups (especially in Houston!) and you can sometimes get things done quickly. Maybe you’ll get lucky and the “Cajun Navy” will be around when your house floods in houston. Water is heavy — a gallon weighs about 8 lbs. — so be careful. Open doors and windows to allow fresh air to circulate so long as that won’t allow in more water. Once you get your house dry, turn on the AC if you can to wring as much moisture out of the air as you can. You want to dehumidify the house best you can.
Remove Mold, Stop or Slow Mold Growth
Mold can develop within 24 to 48 hours of a flood. Remove wet contents, including carpeting and bedding, as soon as possible. Many people don’t realize how much mold infestation can occur in carpets and mattresses, which have a whole lot of organic matter from people living on them! If an item has been wet for less than 48 hours, it may be salvageable, but if the flood water has been exposed to any raw sewage or chemicals, forget it. Even hard surfaces like glass are susceptible to contamination from heavy metals in floods affecting sewage facilities. Notify your insurance company before removing any items to ensure that you’re not affecting coverage (although carpet is always safe to remove in a contaminated floodwater situation). Always photograph the flood-soaked items.
Mold growth can be controlled on surfaces by cleaning with a non-ammonia detergent or pine oil cleaner and disinfecting with a 10% bleach solution. (Caution: Never mix ammonia and bleach products, as the resulting fumes can be highly toxic.) Always test this solution on a small area of the item or area you’re cleaning to be sure it doesn’t cause staining or fading.
Take photographs before removing drywall and baseboards so the adjusters can see the height of floodwaters. Carefully poke holes at floor level in the drywall to allow water trapped behind it to escape.
There are flood restoration service companies you can call that specialize in work like this when your house floods in houston. Check with the Better Business Bureau, local Chamber of Commerce, or contractor recommendation sites, like Angieslist.com. Look for certified companies, and always talk to several companies before going ahead with the work. This seems like a lot of work to a novice, but you’d be surprised how quickly you can learn what you need to. Of course, YouTube is a great educator in such things.
Secure the Property
As the homeowner, it’s your responsibility to secure the property so that no additional damage occurs. Put boards over broken windows and secure a tarp as protection if the roof has been damaged. Again, take photographs to prove to the insurance company that you have done everything possible to protect your home against further damage. Remove any valuables which might be at risk of looters. It might be good to invest in a security system if your neighborhood now is suddenly barren.
If you can stay in the home, keep yourself and your family safe.
If you have questions about your home and would like to talk to someone about your choices, call 281-738-3898 TODAY! Or fill out the form below.