Flood damage to your property can be devastating, and it’s important to act quickly to minimise the harmful effects of water and pollution exposure. Here are some tips on what steps to take after a flood, and what to do to repair the damage.

Check your insurance policies

If you have insurance cover, then your first step should be to ring them immediately to find out what you will be compensated for. This is so that you can preserve or document evidence which will affect your chances of making a full claim. Take as many photographs as possible of the damage before starting any clearance work.

Note down the specifics of each item, such as the age, brand, colour, and so on, as this will help when you come to fill in forms later on. If you can, retrieve the receipts for the damaged items as proof of purchase and cost. Do not dispose of the damaged items until they have been reviewed by a claims adjuster.

Inside the property, take photographs of water marks on walls or flooring, and any debris and pollution left by the floodwater. The insurance company may offer professional cleaning service as part of their policy, so you may wish to engage them to carry out the clean up operation.

However, if your policy does not offer this, or you do not have flood insurance cover, it’s possible to carry out most of the work yourself.

Pump out any remaining water

If there is standing water left in the property, it will be necessary to hire a pump to remove it. You may need to obtain permission from your local Environment Agency Office before pumping floodwater into rivers, streams, ditches, or other water courses. If the water is to be pumped into street or road drains or ditches, then check with the Highways Agency first.

Your local fire brigade may be able to help with pumping, and will be able to advise you about permits. You may have to pay a fee for their services however, so consider if it would be more economical to hire the equipment. If you do hire a pump and generator, make sure you place the generator outside to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.

If the flood water is over 1m deep, consult guidance from the Construction Industry Research and Information Association (CIRIA) about how to remove the water safely. This is because removing deep standing water too quickly may harm the structural integrity of the building.

Check vents, services and drains

Open up any air vents in the building to aid the water drainage. Check for blockages to the drains. Before using the gas, electric and water supplies, have them checked out for safety by a qualified engineer.

Dry out the building

Once all the excess water has been removed, it is crucial to start drying the building out straight away. If the interior has been contaminated with sewage water, you must wear protective clothing, such as full waterproofs, wellington boots, gloves, and a face mask.

Clean all walls and surfaces with hot water, a brush, and a disinfectant solution. Don’t forget enclosed spaces such as cupboards and underneath kitchen cabinets. Everything that has been in contact with the floodwater must be disinfected, and any fabrics washed at a high temperature.

Take up and temporarily remove any carpets and underlay to let the floorboards dry out. The carpets may be salvageable, but it may be best to have them professionally cleaned. If the floorboards are damaged, you may need to take these up and clean up the void underneath as well.

If the central heating has been deemed safe to use, put this on to help dry out the building. Hiring a dehumidifier can help to speed up the drying out process. Keep all the doors and windows shut while it is running. You may need to hire several depending on the size of the affected area. Aim to bring the humidity levels to below 60%.

If you do not want to hire a dehumidifier, set some fans running and leave all the external doors and windows open for as long as possible. This can be a long process, and may take weeks or even months. It’s important to make sure that the walls and floors are completely dried out before nay redecoration work takes place.

If there is major repair or redecoration to be done, check with your insurer if this is covered before asking for quotes.

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