When you come home to a flooded house, one of your first thoughts is what is lost and what can be saved. This will depend on the type of flood water and how long the items have been wet. Here are how the professionals evaluate flood damage of personal items so you'll have a starting point from which to make the choice of salvage or replace.
Flood Water Sources
Your home can be flooded from a number of sources, such as:
- broken water supply line
- overflowing appliance
- backed up drain
The type of water from each of these sources determines how safe it is to salvage a personal item. Water damage recovery experts categorize flood water one of three ways, depending on the amount of contamination in the water.
Category 1 - This water has few harmful microorganisms in it that could make you ill. An example is water from a broken supply line coming into your basement. Depending on how long an item has been in this water, it may be rinsed off, dried and be safe to use.
Category 2 - This water has a higher level of contaminants in it. This water could make you ill if you drank it. An example is water from an overflowing dishwasher. Items soaked with this water need to be disinfected before being safe to use again.
Category 3 - This is the most contaminated water as it has enough microorganisms in it to likely make you ill. An example of this flood water is a backed up city sewer drain into your house. Items soaked with this water should be thrown out. The level of disinfecting that these items need will damage most items beyond repair. It will also be expensive to try to save these flooded items.
Note that an initial category given to flood water can change over time. The longer category 1 flood water sits still, the more contaminated it becomes. After a few days of sitting in your basement, water from a broken supply line may become contaminated with enough microorganisms to change it to a category 2 risk.
The Duration Factor
The sooner you pull an item out of the water and dry it off, the more likely you can save it. Some items have the risk of developing mold and mildew if left sitting in water for long periods. For example, carpet left in flood water for longer than 24 hours has an increased risk of having mold or mildew set in. These are difficult to remove from the carpet entirely so it will be safe for you and your family. You'll need a mold removal specialist to try to recover a carpet where mold or mildew has set in. Contact a company like Environmental Hazmat Services Inc to contact one of these specialists.
Items such as upholstered furniture, curtains, bed and bathroom linen and even clothes are at risk of mold and mildew if allowed to sit in flood water. If these items have been soaked for a long time, you'll have to decide if you want to spend the money to have them cleaned properly or to just replace them.