Floods are among the most common natural disasters on Earth. They’re also one of the most destructive. And as a family, trying to recover from the trauma is no small task.
One of the most important things you can do to help your family get back on its feet is hire the right expert to help.
If you and your family are trying to recover from a flood, here’s everything you need to know to hire the right flood repair services for your home, not just to fix the damage, but to protect what matters most.
What is a Flood?
A flood happens when water inundates an area that’s typically dry. This can happen in a variety of ways, including:
- Excessive rainfall
- Melting snow or ice
- A ruptured dam or levee
- A poorly-placed beaver dam
As you can guess from the last point, floods vary in their size and destructiveness. A poorly-placed beaver dam can result in a river overrunning its boundaries to flood the surrounding land. On a larger scale, coastal flooding can happen when a large storm or tsunami causes the sea to surge inland.
Some floods happen quickly and with little warning. These so-called flash floods can be extremely dangerous, since conditions can change too quickly for those in harm’s way to take precautions. However, most floods take hours or days to develop, giving residents enough time to plan and evacuate.
Even so, the damage caused by floods can be catastrophic for families.
How Do Floods Damage Structures?
Regardless of how flooding begins, the physical forces of floodwaters are split into three load cases:
- Hydrostatic loads
- Hydrodynamic loads
- Impact loads
Hydrostatic pressure is the pressure exerted by fluid at rest due to gravity–or, in plain English, the pressure created by standing water. Hydrostatic loading is thus an engineering concern to protect a structure against the pressure of standing water, most commonly discussed in things like deepwater pipelines.
Hydrodynamic loads, on the other hand, are loads created from the pressure of water flowing against and around a static structure or system. Impact loads result from debris carried in floodwaters which then strikes a building.
The net result is a complex combination of pressures and force that can wreak havoc on your home.
Hydrostatic loads, for example, are both lateral (pressures) and vertical (buoyant).
Lateral or pressure forces are the result of the difference between interior and exterior water surface elevation–as water levels rise, the higher water level outside the building exerts pressure on the interior. A less common issue is when floodwaters outside fall rapidly, creating outward pressure inside the structure as flood water trapped inside tries to escape.
How much pressure can water cause, though? After all, it’s just water, right?
Turns out, water has a lot of force. In fact, it takes just six inches of flowing water to knock a person off their feet and drown them. Water moving at just 4 miles per hour produces force comparable to storm winds of an EF2 tornado, which is enough to move boulders five feet in diameter. That’s generally 62 to 64 pounds of pressure per square foot of differential.
In other words, if outside water around your house reached two feet high, the lower section of the wall could experience a maximum inward pressure of 128 pounds per square foot.
What Damage Can a Flood Cause?
With that in mind, it bears asking what damage a flood can cause. The short answer is that between the sudden arrival of water in an area meant to be dry and the pressure resulting from that water, the potential damage can be quite significant.
As you can guess, structural damage is a huge concern with flooding.
For one thing, the pressure of flood waters alone are incredibly high, even if the water itself isn’t moving very fast. Your home is built to withstand some pressure–after all, the builders who crafted it knew the structure would have to withstand pressure to stay upright.
However, by the same token, your builders didn’t construct your house to withstand the constant pressure of standing water.
The other most obvious form of damage from a flood is water damage, including the potential for mold and mildew.
Think of it this way: your home was built to manage some water running through the pipes. It can also withstand a bit of moisture buildup that naturally results from someone occupying the structure. It was not built to tolerate standing water, and in the time it takes to remove standing water, dry out the structure, and assess the damage, mold and mildew can flourish.
Gas Line Damage and Electrical Infrastructure
Depending on the force and depth of the flood, there is also a risk of gas line damage as a result of a flood. This could be from damage to the gas line feeding your home or damage to appliances.
If you have advance warning of a flood, turn off the power to each of your appliances and leave it turned off until you get the green light from an inspector and a repair service. Turn off the main gas valve and consult with an expert. Once the line is repaired, you can call your gas company to turn it back on.
If you don’t have advance warning and you’re worried about electrical or gas line damage, you may need to call your gas and electrical company to turn them off. You should then get an inspector to look at your home.
Floods are a stinky situation. Literally.
If there is standing water in and around your home, you should always consider it contaminated by sewage or unintentional toxic chemicals caught in the flood. You should always protect yourself with rubber gloves, rubber boots, and protective eyewear. You may need to get your water tested as well to make sure it’s clean.
Homeowners often worry about their beloved pets in a flood. Unfortunately, surprise flooding can sometimes injure pets or leave pets trapped.
However, you still need to worry about animals if your pet is safe. That’s because floodwaters often carry other critters inside your home with them, like insects and water snakes who decide to take up residence in your house.
You should always assume there might be animals in the floodwaters, wear the appropriate protective gear, and proceed with extreme caution. Be careful of any potential insect or snake bites. If you’re worried about an infestation in your home, you may need to call an exterminator as part of your flood repair process.
Last but not least is emotional damage, which is an underappreciated but nonetheless critical element of flood damage.
Your home is the place where you built memories. It’s the place where you raised your kids, got your job, celebrated your triumphs and rallying through your heartaches. It’s where you keep your entire life–your most precious possessions, your personal property, even the stories that make a house feel like home.
It’s a safe and sacred place, and a flood violates that sense of security. The place you relied on is now on unsteady ground, and that’s a traumatic experience for families.
The Purpose of Flood Repair Services
This is where flood repair services come in.
Flood repair services are about more than just repairing your home. They fix the damage wreaked on your life so that your family can get back on its feet again. And while you could theoretically try to repair the damage yourself, the reality is that having a flood repair service makes it easier to expedite the whole process.
Flood repair services are essential to address three key areas: mitigating damage, making your property hospitable, and ensuring your safety.
Migitage Any Further Damages
Unfortunately, the damage is not over once the flood ends.
At a minimum, flood repair services mitigate the damage that has already been caused. But they also work to ensure that no further damage happens as a result of the initial damage. This includes anything from preserving the structural integrity of your home to preventing the spread of mold and mildew.
Making Your Property Habitable
This is all part of the much larger process of making your home habitable again.
While it’s easy to think draining the water and checking the foundations means you’re good to go, keep in mind that there are much larger contamination concerns from floodwaters, like chemical waste and sewage, as well as mold from runaway moisture.
A flood repair service ensures that your home is habitable in every sense, making sure that all the appropriate sanitation and disinfection measures have been taken to ensure the safety of the whole home on top of reconstruction work.
Above all, flood repair services ensure your safety.
These companies earn their living making homes safe again after floods, so they know what needs to be checked and the kinds of work that may need to be done before a home is habitable again. They also prevent homeowners from unwittingly causing further damage through self-troubleshooting.
Think of it this way: when your car breaks down, you go to a mechanic. When you need a cavity filled, you go to a dentist. Similarly, if you need your home repaired after a flood, you go to expert flood repair services.
Your First Steps
While you should always let your flood repair service take the lead on repairing your home, there are a few steps you should take in the immediate aftermath of a flood. This is a shocking and difficult time for families, but as much as you can, try to marshal your resources to make sure you start the process off on the right note.
First and foremost, stay safe.
If you have to evacuate your home for a flood, listen to the authorities for instructions and any essential information before you return home. Don’t try to go home until the authorities say it’s safe to return to your area.
Before entering your home, check for any signs of severe structural damage, like cracks or warping in the foundation. If you have any reason to believe your home may not be structurally sound, don’t go inside.
If you do go inside, you should turn off electricity to the main breaker first, and you should always have protective gear before going inside. Do not go inside alone in case you encounter a safety issue and need help.
Inspect Your Home and Contact Your Insurance Provider
Before you call a flood repair service or your insurance company, before you move anything in your home, take a video and extensive photos of the damage. If you file an insurance claim, this is critical documentation to prove your case.
You should also hire your own insurance adjuster to inspect the damage and estimate what your insurance company should pay for the damages. Insurance companies have their own adjusters, but they work for the company, not you, and will always downplay damage to minimize the payout. An independent adjuster helps balance the scales in your favor.
After the inspection, you should call your insurance company right away. This will initiate the repair process. Always keep copies of the photos you send, and if you can, talk to an attorney. They may not be necessary if your insurance company is cooperative, but if not, they can ensure you get the best outcome.
Plus, insurance companies know that people reach out to them after traumatic events. They know that you don’t know what you’re doing. An attorney and an independent adjuster make sure that your insurance company doesn’t walk all over you.
Finding the Right Flood Repair Services
From there, it’s time to find flood repair services.
Flood repair should commence as soon as possible, but you may need to do a dance with your insurance company to ensure the work is paid for. Either way, it’s best to have a flood repair service signed on and ready to work as soon as your insurance company gives the green light.
Here’s how to find the right flood repair service.
If you can, try to get recommendations on a flood repair service.
Even if you don’t know someone who’s enlisted flood repair services in the past, you can still find recommendations. The best way to do this is by reading reviews. Look for a company with plenty of honest online reviews. Good services will speak for themselves, and if people have a good experience, they’re usually willing to share it.
Steer clear of companies without any client reviews to speak of. That’s a red flag that says the company either isn’t good enough to earn those reviews. Either way, pay careful attention to the content of the reviews–if reviewers consistently say the same things, or if reviewers often share the same negative experiences, chances are you’ll run into the same issues.
Contact Multiple Contractors
One of the most common mistakes homeowners make is failing to contact multiple flood repair contractors. Don’t talk to one contractor, read the quote, and hire them then and there. You will never get the best deal unless you shop around.
We know that you want to repair your home. Aside from the festering damage, you want to be able to live in your own house again. But if you’re going to spend a lot of money to fix your house, you want to make sure you hire the right company for the job.
Always steer clear of door-to-door offers. Any company that knocks door-to-door with claims of leftover materials from a place “just down the street” is a major red flag. These are scams. So too is a company without a permanent business address. Don’t fall for it in a fit of desperation.
Similarly, if workers show up unannounced claiming your home is unsafe, don’t take their word for it. Have a professional inspect it.
And whatever you do, talk to multiple contractors. Find the best service for the job. Trust us, it pays to do your homework.
Check Certifications and Experience
On a related note, once you find a company you like, you should always check their certifications and experience.
Any company that claims flood repair services should also carry a certification. If a contractor changes the subject when you ask about a certification, deflects the question, or outright says no, that’s a red flag. At best, they don’t have the experience you need. At worst, it’s a scam. Any contractor worth their salt will happily produce those certifications for you.
This is an important job. You don’t want to risk it on the wrong contractor.
Look for Someone Who Can Do the Whole Job
Once you find a certified and experienced flood repair service, your work is not done. Your next task is to assess their services and look for someone who can do the whole job from start to finish.
As you’ve already seen a flood creates a huge amount of work for a homeowner. The last thing you need is to juggle three or four different companies performing different services on different parts of your home. That leaves the onus for organization on you, and it’s a headache to coordinate disparate teams.
Instead, look for a flood repair company that offers comprehensive services to cover the whole job. Have them walk you through the whole process and discuss in detail what they can provide at each stage. If they can’t do the whole job, find a different contractor.
Look for a Team That Can Start as Soon as Possible
Of course, you don’t just want someone who can do the whole job. You also want someone who can start the job with due speed. Time is of the essence in flood repairs, which means that finding a company that can start as soon as possible is critical.
Look for a company that can send a specialist to your home ASAP. Talk through the process of starting work and coordinating with your insurance company. If a company is bogged down in other jobs, they won’t have the resources to focus on yours, and you should move on.
Look for a Service That Can Adapt to Any Job Size
To put it bluntly, floods are unpredictable. So, too, are flood repairs. What seems like a bit of mold may later prove itself to be a black mold problem or a mold issue that goes all the way to the foundations. Gauging the true scale of the destruction is hard to do at the outset, even for experienced repairers.
For this reason, you should always look for a company with the experience and resources to adapt to a variety of job sizes. That means an extensive range of repair equipment, plenty of expert team members, and expert systems to map damages, adjust the plan, and work toward the best possible outcome.
Ask for an Itemized Estimate
Last but not least, ask for an itemized estimate.
Surprises are fun with pinatas, not flood repair. The last thing you want is to be surprised by a bill. All legitimate contractors will be glad to offer itemized estimates, regardless of the services they offer or the extent of the work they perform on your home.
The Flood Repair Services That Keep Your Family Safe
We know that floods are incredibly complex disasters with complex consequences for every family. Our job is to see your family through a difficult time, not just with expert knowledge, but with compassion and integrity.
We provide comprehensive flood repair services to homeowners like you, covering everything from water damage to structural cleaning to restoration services to biohazard cleanup to mold remediation and more. Whatever your family needs to restore your home, we’re here to provide it with a service-first mentality.
If you need expert flood repair services that go above and beyond for your loved ones, get in touch today to let us know how we can help your family get back on its feet.