What is Ruined? Is This Flood Damage Covered?
Perhaps it was a surprise storm damaging an old roof. Or a burst pipe in the laundry room. Or the neighbors above ground pool springing a leak and flooding your basement. You have a serious situation! Address the two problems simultaneously: a) clean up the house and b) consult your insurance agent. Don’t forget to contact a professional restoration company like Clean Masters for quality and qualified assistance!
Immediate Actions to Lessen Damage
Flood waters contain many contaminants and lots of mud. High dollar items can get ruined, even with just an inch of water. After a flood, cleaning up is a long and hard process. Here is a list of common techniques for sorting, sanitizing, and cleaning flooded items:
In the kitchen, scrub hard surfaces with hot water and a heavy-duty cleaner. Then disinfect with a solution of 1/4 cup chlorine bleach per gallon of water (use gloves to protect your hands) or a product that is labeled as a disinfectant to kill germs. Anything “soft” should be thrown out: cardboard containers of food, rolls of paper towels, kitchen towels.
Furniture and household items will take the most time to sort. Take furniture, rugs, bedding, and clothing outside to dry as soon as possible. Use an air conditioner or dehumidifier to remove moisture or open at least two windows to ventilate with outdoor air. Use fans to circulate air in the house. If mold and mildew have already developed, brush off items outdoors to prevent scattering spores in the house. Vacuum floors, ceilings, and walls to remove mildew, then wash with disinfectant. Wear a two-strap protective mask to prevent breathing mold spores.
Upholstered furniture soaks up contaminants from floodwaters and should be cleaned only by a professional. Mattresses should be thrown away. Wood veneered furniture is usually not worth the cost and effort of repair. Solid wood furniture can usually be restored unless damage is severe.
Photographs, books and important papers can be frozen and cleaned later. They should be dried carefully and slowly. Wash the mud off and store the articles in plastic bags and put them in a frost-free freezer to protect from mildew and further damage until you have time to thaw and clean them or take them to a professional.
Heating and cooling systems and ducts will need inspection and cleaning. Flood-soaked insulation should be replaced.
Appliances will get stains, odors, silt deposits, and gritty deposits and need to be serviced, cleaned and sanitized. Running equipment before it is properly cleaned could seriously damage it and/or shock you. Professional cleaning is recommended for electronics, TVs and radios, washing machines, dryers, dishwashers, and vacuum cleaners. The hard exterior can be hand cleaned. All metallic appliances that have been flooded should be properly grounded to prevent electric shock. Mud or dirt in a grounded outlet or adapter may prevent the grounding system from working, and you could be electrocuted.
Floors, walls, and carpets are best assessed by a professional. Quickly make appointments for estimates, optimistically within 24 hours. Clean Masters can get to Summerville and the surrounding areas quickly.
And Now to the Legal Ramifications
Call your insurance agent at the same time that you start to clean. If your policy covers the damage, your agent will coordinate an adjuster to contact you. Many agencies have additional resources to help you in a crunch.
List damage and take photos or videotape as you clean. You’ll need complete records for insurance claims, applications for disaster assistance and income tax deductions. Keep snapping photos on your phone, capturing damage as well as serial numbers.
Homeowners insurance does not cover all types of water damage, however.
Damage from unresolved maintenance issues: While your insurance will probably help cover the cost of replacing or repairing a damaged floor if your dishwasher suddenly goes on the fritz, coverage generally will not kick in if the damage results from an unresolved maintenance issue, such as continuous leaking near a faucet or other plumbing fixture.
Replacing or repairing the source of the water damage: Most insurance policies will not cover the source of the water damage. So while your policy may cover the cost of tearing out and replacing that damaged floor, you shouldn’t expect it to cover the cost of replacing your broken dishwasher or washing machine.
Water backup from an outside sewer or drain: You also will not typically be covered by a traditional homeowner’s policy if water backs into your home through an outside sewer or drain.
Flood: No type of flood damage, no matter the source of the water, is covered by standard homeowner’s policies. Flooding is the term encompassing storms, over-saturated ground, overflowing or surging bodies of water such as rivers, ponds, lakes, and oceans. Purchasing flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program might be a wise investment, depending on your risk situation.