Those who lived in Brisbane in 2011 know first-hand that we live in a crazy world. Mother nature can flex her muscles at any moment and send water where we never intended it to go. Since mould grows and thrives in a moisture rich environment, a flooded home is perfect. Mould is the last thing we want in our home. Not only does it look and smell terrible, but it is a health hazard to you and your family.
What can you do about it?
About the flooding? Not much sadly, except maybe live at the top of a hill, or an apartment building off the ground floor. But once your home has been flooded, there are things you can do to minimise the amount of mould that will grow:
- Start hauling wet things, especially plush items like pillows, upholstered furniture, or curtains out of the house to a place like the garage or the driveway where they can dry.
Use a shop vac or wet vac to suck water out of soggy carpets.
- Fans can help get air moving in enclosed spaces, but be aware they may not be enough.
- Consider renting or buying a dehumidifier to keep moisture levels low in the air in rooms you’re trying to dry. Basements and big areas may require larger, commercial-sized machines.
- Remove baseboards and skirting boards from flooded walls.
- Cut small openings along the bases of walls to let air into the wall to dry the back as well as the front.
How long have you got?
The faster you act, the more you can save. “You’ve really got 24 to 36 hours to work with,” says Rebecca Morley, executive director of the National Centre for Healthy Housing, a not for profit organization that wrote a guide to help residents clean up flooded homes after Hurricane Katrina. Mould is dangerous to those with asthma or pre-existing health problems, but high levels of mould are dangerous to otherwise healthy people.
DIY or call in the professionals?
If you choose to clean it up yourself don’t forget to use protection. A respirator – either a P95 or a P100 – will keep particles out of your lungs. Wear non-porous gloves, eye protection and coveralls to protect your clothing. Open windows and make sure the room is well ventilated. Do NOT mix bleach with other cleaning products to kill the mould. Mixing bleach and ammonia and other cleaning products will produce toxic fumes which are dangerous to you.
If more than one room of your house has been flood affected you should probably call in the professionals. They will bring in big fans and dehumidifiers to dry everything out. This needs to happen before you can even think of getting rid of the mould. No point wiping it off for it to grow back again! They will also be able to take care of testing and certifying how well they do the job, which the insurance company will want to see.
It is not uncommon for flooded properties to also have trouble with fire and smoke damage, from electrical fires that can occur from appliances and wiring getting wet. If this is the case with you then look at a company like www.disasterrestorations.com.au. They can take care of that and deal with the insurance company too.
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