Sadly, many homes throughout the Northeast were impacted by Hurricane Sandy leaving a breeding ground for mold, and potential health problems for residents of flooded homes. The first step for any flooded or home with the potential for mold is to remove all wet structural or building materials from the house. Then everything must be thoroughly dried out and any mold-contaminated materials must be removed before new construction can begin. Although we got off rather light in WNY, many of us have family and friends in other areas that may benefit from this advice. For recommended mold specialists in WNY, contact us. In the meantime, here are some tips to address a wet house:

Get a professional to assess the damage. A surface in your home may feel dry to the touch but still have dampness underneath that could lead to mold. Professionals, specifically flood and mold restoration specialists, use moisture meters to detect this.

Remove all water-contaminated items. Drywall, insulation, carpeting, wood flooring, cabinetry — any wet item has to be removed.  If it got wet, it's been contaminated with floodwater coming from the a potentially dirty source — and who knows what else it's brought with it."

Don't venture into floodwater on your own as it can lead to hepatitis, tetanus and E. coli from dirty water. If you really must go into floodwater, wear protective gear from head to toe: nonpierceable gloves, masks, goggles, overalls. Make sure that you don't have any cuts or open wounds, and take a shower immediately after.

Dry, dry, dry. After contaminated objects and structural and building materials have been removed by licensed professionals, it's time to introduce drying equipment such as high-powered fans and dehumidifiers. Insurance companies will also want HEPA [High-Efficiency Particulate Air] filters there for mold remediation.

A home's dry standard differs per city and state. Most coastal homes already have a relatively high moisture content, but you generally want to have less than 16% moisture content in your home.

Get rid of all mold. Mold is the biggest concern with waterlogged homes; it can grow within 48 hours of water contact. If mold is present but the affected area is less than 10 square feet, it can be removed safely by applying the general water damage techniques mentioned above. For something like a waterlogged house from floodwater, homeowners should contact professionals after the storm's cleared out, no matter how small they think the damage is.

Whether you have flood insurance and you're waiting for a professional to assess and work on your home, or you think you'd like to do some damage control yourself, it's best to: Prevent new water from coming in. Get rid of the water that's in your home already. You can buy wet-dry vacuums, sump pumps, even a mop and a bucket combo — do what you can to get rid of the water before the professionals come. Ventilate. Keep your windows open for as long as you can, day and night. Turn fans toward the walls and reposition them throughout the day so the walls dry evenly. Keep the fans on 24/7 so that air can circulate through to the drywall. Move items away from the walls. Move saturated rugs, furniture and other items outside of the home to air dry. Consider completely discarding any items that's been contaminated by the floodwater. It could carry an incredible amount of bacteria and cause health problems in the long run.

A note on bleach. Bleach may be good for nonporous surfaces, but it doesn't permeate into wood, tile, Sheetrock, carpet or concrete. Professional steps should be taken to ensure the home is safe and mold free.

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