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Tips On Drying Out A Water Damaged Building

Any time that a structure has been exposed to water damage, either through floods, rain, burst pipes, or sewage, steps must be taken promptly to dry the building out completely, take stock of the damage, and begin the repair and restoration process.

While flood damage may be rapidly inflicted, drying the building out is another story. It can be a time consuming effort, and as such must be undertaken as quickly as it is safe to do so. Natural ventilation and evaporation is the preferred method for drying a structure as opposed to heated forced air or air conditioning approaches.  In many cases, the rapid dry out of a building using hot air can cause additional harm and damage which may add considerably to the final repair bill.

As with any cases of water damage restoration, the key word is safety. You do not want to put yourself or any of your loved ones at risk of injury due to water problems. With that in mind, assume that all power lines are live, even if the power has been knocked out. Turn off all utilities. Remember also that floodwaters may be contaminated with sewage or animal waste, so be careful about exposure to those elements.

Make any temporary repairs that are needed to prevent more water from getting in, such as patches to roofs or walls that have been compromised. Temporary repairs should be made to last at least six months.

Again, make every effort to use natural drying methods, starting with the attic and working downward. Wet insulation should be disposed of, and water soaked items should be removed for repair elsewhere.

As you enter rooms, inspect the ceilings. If there is water overhead, the ceiling may bulge or sag, and it may be dangerous to stand anywhere in that room. Carefully poke holes near the edge of the bulging ceiling to relieve the water pressure and collect the water in buckets.

Sheetrock with less than two hours of exposure to water can be saved. Any longer and you should consider replacement.  Open all windows to allow as much circulation as possible. Window fans can be used, but resist the urge to use air conditioning or heating.  Wet carpets and furniture should be removed, as well as sheet vinyl or linoleum flooring.

Flooded basements should be pumped out slowly, on the order of about a third a day. This will prevent uneven pressure from building up, pressure that could cause additional damage to the structure.

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