Act Fast to Minimise Damage and Loss
Water can cause untold damage to property, yet we all have to deal with a flood from time to time.
Water – giver of life, quencher of thirst and destroyer of property. Every one of us lives in a home that is literally surrounded by water straining at plastic or copper pipes at high pressure. We also live in a country that is famed for its unpredictable weather and the potential for a year’s worth of rain to fall in a matter of a few short hours.
Put that way, it is perhaps unsurprising that just about everyone has their own “flood story,” whether it is from a burst pipe or an abnormally high tide leading to a river bursting its banks. It is really a case of when, not if, you will have to deal with a flooded home, so let’s take this moment of calm to have a think about what you will need to do when such an emergency arises.
Stop the flow
Your first priority is going to be to get on the phone to an emergency plumber, but even while you are making the call, you need to find out where the water is coming from and see if you can make it stop.
Sometimes, that is easier said than done. If you can’t see where the leak is, shut off the supply to the whole house. In some cases, this is a shared supply with a neighbouring property, in which case you will obviously need to let them know what is happening.
It is also a sensible precaution to switch off the electricity at the fuse box, as water and electricity are not a good combination. Only do this if you can safely reach the main switch without wading into water, though. If in doubt, call an electrician.
Before you start the clean up, take plenty of pictures and document all the damage, particularly if you are going to be making a claim on your home insurance policy. If this is your intention, let the insurer know what has happened straight away, and follow any instructions. The fact is that many will use any excuse to deny cover, so the best plan is to bombard them with information and do nothing without their agreement.
Get your possessions out of there as soon as possible. The faster you are able to rescue them and dry them out, the better the chances of them being fully salvageable. Mould can start to set in within 24 hours, so you really are up against the clock.
Drying things out
Subject to the above caveat about insurers, you need to get that water out of there as fast as possible. Depending on the scale of the disaster, you might need to hire special equipment, such as a wet vac, sump pump or industrial fan.
Assuming it is not raining in torrents, open up all the doors and windows, to increase air circulation and help things to dry quicker. If the electricity is on, wind up the heating to max to really help things along. In this case, it is doubly important to have the home well ventilated, or you will start creating lots of condensation and a whole new problem.