Checking structural Elements:
• Check the outside of your home before you enter. Look for loose power lines, broken or damaged gas lines, foundation cracks, missing support beams or other damage. Damage on the outside can indicate a serious problem inside. Ask a building inspector or contractor to check the structure before you enter.
• If the door is jammed, don’t force it open – it may be providing support to the rest of your home. Find another way to get inside.
• Sniff for gas. If you detect natural or propane gas, or hear a hissing noise, leave the property immediately and get far away from it. Call the fire department after you reach safety.
• If you have a propane tank system, turn off all valves and contact a propane supplier to check the system out before you use it again.
• Beware of animals, such as rodents, snakes, spiders and insects, that may have entered your home. As you inspect your home, tap loudly and often on the floor with a stick to give notice that you are there.
• Is your ceiling sagging? That means it got wet – which makes it heavy and dangerous. It will have to be replaced, so you can try to knock it down. Be careful: wear eye protection and a hard hat, use a long stick, and stand away from the damaged area. Poke holes in the ceiling starting from the outside of the bulge to let any water drain out slowly. Striking the center of the damaged area may cause the whole ceiling to collapse.
• Is the floor sagging? It could collapse under your weight, so don’t walk there! Small sections that are sagging can be bridged by thick plywood panels or thick, strong boards that extend at least 8–12 inches on each side of the sagging area.
• If the weather is dry, open windows and doors to ventilate and/or dry your home.
• If power is out, use a flashlight. Do not use any open flame, including candles, to inspect for damage or serve as alternate lighting.
• Make temporary repairs such as covering holes, bracing walls, and removing debris. Save all receipts.
• Take photographs of the damage. You may need these to substantiate insurance claims later.
Helpful tips after your structural elements have been checked:
• Any appliances that were inundated by flood water should be checked by a professional before you use them.
• If you see sparks, broken or frayed wires, or if you smell hot insulation, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker.
• If there is a pool of water on the floor between you and the fuse box or circuit breaker panel, use a dry wooden stick to try to reach to turn off the main fuse or breaker, but do not step or stand in water to do that. If you cannot reach the fuse box or breaker panel, call a qualified electrician for assistance.
• Inspect the panel box for any breakers that may have tripped. A tripped breaker may indicate damaged wiring inside your home. Do not turn them on. Call an electrician.
• Use a flashlight to inspect fuses. Replace broken fuses with exactly the same amperage rating and never use an object such as a coin or strip of metal to bypass the protection that fuses provide.
• If you suspect sewage lines are damaged, avoid using sinks, showers or toilets and call a plumber.
• If water pipes are damaged, turn off the water at the main valve. Call a plumber for assistance.
• If you have a heating oil tank system, turn off all valves and contact a professional specializing in maintenance of such equipment before using it again.
If you have water damage, here are some helpful tips:
- Pump out flooded basements gradually (about one-third of the water per day) to avoid structural damage. If the water is pumped out completely in a short period of time, pressure from water0saturated soil on the outside could cause basement walls to collapse.
- Remove all drywall and insulation that has been in contact with flood waters.
- Consider removing vinyl floor coverings and tile to allow the substructures beneath or behind them to dry.
- Keep the windows open and run fans-or keep them shut and run dehumidifiers to pull moisture out of wood floors and subfloors, beams, doors, etc.
- Be patient. Depending on the level of water damage incurred, it can take weeks or months for your home’s structural elements to be thoroughly dried. Only then should you replace drywall, carpets and other floorcoverings.