The following storm cleanup tips are not only about cleaning your home after a storm for cosmetic reasons, but also making sure that there is no long-term damage such as rot or other forms of fungal damage. A storm can cause a lot more damage to the infrastructure of your home than might be immediately visible, so you must know how to do the job properly.
The recent Hurricane Sandy brought this home to many people who suffered the first genuine storm damage they have experienced, let alone the specific problems that a hurricane can bring with it. Around 50 million people with homes on the north-east coast of the USA and islands close by were affected, and a lot was also learned from Hurricane Katrina in the southern states.
Here are some tips on cleaning your home after a storm or hurricane, and how to minimize the longer term damage as well as clean up the immediate effects.
1. Storm Cleanup Tips: Save Evidence
Before doing anything get some evidence of the damage done to your home. Insurance companies will be looking for some proof to support your claims, so get out your camera and take photographs. If your camera has been damaged in the storm, it will be worth your while buying a new one – you are likely to be claiming a lot more than just the cost of a new camera!
2. Dry Out Your Home
Before cleaning your home you will have to dry it out to reduce the potential for further damage down the line. Dampness leads to rot, bacteria, flies and many other problems. Start with the basement by pumping out the water – get a sump pump if you don’t already have one. Make sure any drains in your basement are clear, and that faucets and water pipes are closed and undamaged.
Mop up any pools of water from the bottom of your home upwards. A wet vacuum cleaner or even a carpet cleaner that sucks up water will be useful until a dehumidifier is able to do its work. Keep doors and windows open to allow free circulation of air.
3. Beware of Infection
Storms and hurricanes can cause raw sewage to seep up into your home from the sewage system, or even for contaminated floodwater to enter your home. Get a good disinfectant, or a strong bleach solution, and clean all the walls, floors and crevices.
Your furniture might be ruined, but if not give it a good clean with disinfectant solution. Make sure you wear gloves and protective clothing where there are obvious signs of contamination, such as visible sewage or foul odors.
4. Repair Your Roofing
Repair any damage in your roof that could lead to leaks in the event of further bad weather. It is important to get your home as dried out as possible, and leaking roofs will not help. Dampness not only leads to mildew and other fungal growth but also to longer term structural problems such as corroding wall ties, metal fixings and crumbling bricks and plaster.
5. External Work
Storm cleanup is not restricted to just the interior of your home. Your yard will also need cleaned up, and you are advised to hire a professional for this if you have the cash. Trees and shrubs may have to be cleared, but check first with your local authority and insurance company. Much of this cleanup work might be provided for you.
In general, when cleaning your home after a storm, you should make yourself aware of what the local authority and your home insurance will cover. Once you understand your personal responsibilities, do not hesitate but get you as dry as you can as quickly as possible. Only then will you be able to progress from storm cleanup to getting back to some form of normality in your life.