A flood can cause major damage to every area of your home, and once it's safe for you to return to your home, the inspection should begin. While every area of your home should eventually be inspected, these are some of the most important areas to check right away.
Structural Damage Inside and Outside
Before you enter your house, check for any structural damage on the outside of your home, including:
- Holes/cracks in the house
- Sagging roof
- Broken support beams
- Sagging/broken overhangs
- Heavy objects, such as trees sitting on the roof
- Moved foundation or cracks in the foundation
Some of these may be difficult for you to determine, and it is always better to play it safe. So if you cannot determine if it is safe to enter your house, contact a professional inspector or contractor from a place like http://www.drainorooter.com first.
Once you feel it is safe to enter your home, you'll need to look for structural damage to the inside of the home, which includes:
- Sagging upper floors
- Cracks/holes in the walls, floor or ceiling
- Doors that are difficult to open, which could be a sign the house is sagging
During this examination, make sure to wear sturdy shoes, and avoid any standing water. Only use battery-powered flashlights. Do not allow an open flame in the house. Again, if you are unable to determine if the house is safe to be inside, contact an inspector.
After you know it's safe to be inside your house, inspect the utilities to ensure they are not damaged. The three most important utilities to examine are gas, electricity and water/sewage. The smell of gas or a hissing sound indicates a leak. Open a window and leave the house immediately. Turn off the gas from the outside and contact your gas company.
It's best to turn off the electricity even before you notice any problems, but if you notice sparks, frayed wires or the smell of burning or hot insulation, it's a sign there is something wrong with your electricity, and you'll need to have an electrician inspect it.
Lastly, inspect the drinking water for any strange odors or discoloration. If you feel it is contaminated, do not drink it. If the sewage lines are damaged, you may notice standing puddles of waste or an unpleasant odor. In more serious cases, your entire sewage line may be damaged, needing replacement or repair, so don't use the toilets and contact a plumber immediately.
If you have a septic tank, a flood could cause your septic tank to overflow. Signs of an overflowing septic tank after a flood include seepage above ground, soil erosion, and backup sewage in the basement. Of course, since floods cause standing water, soil erosion and may fill your basement with contaminated water, it may be difficult for you to determine any problems.
The best thing is to contact a professional to have the septic tank inspected. Only a trained professional can identify the extent of the damage. If the septic tank needs to be cleaned due to the flood water and debris, you'll need a professional to perform that task anyway.
Most foods that have been exposed to flood water should be thrown out because they have been contaminated. However, there are some exceptions. Canned foods that are free from dents and bulges are probably safe, but that does not include foods you canned yourself. In addition, commercially-prepared, undamaged foods in retort pouches are also probably safe. Make sure to remove any labels and wash the cans or pouches completely. If you are unsure or uncomfortable eating something, just be safe and throw it away.
During this cleaning and repair process, it is best to stick with bottle bottled water that hasn't been exposed to the flood waters. If necessary, you can drink water from your own tap, but make sure to boil it first.
Your home is a hazard after a flood, and these four areas are some of the most important things to check before you begin the cleanup process. For more information about inspecting and repairing your home after a flood, contact a local contractor.