Mitigation Tips For Flooding In Your Home
You just got home from work, walked in the door, and stepped in a big puddle of water on your floor! Oh, no…. the supply line to your dishwasher split open and you have a flooded house!
What you do about the situation and how efficiently you deal with the aftermath of any disaster is critical, especially when dealing with water.
First and foremost, are you the type of person who may have thought ahead, in anticipation of just such an incident?
Do you know the location of the dishwasher water supply line shut off valve, or know where your home’s main water supply line shut off valve is located?
Unfortunately, many people do not know this simple fact and it can complicate an already serious matter. So, if you don’t know, best to take a few minutes of your time and familiarize yourself and your family with the location and operation of all of the water supply shut off valves in your home.
Being pro-active and learning the location of the main water supply line valve to the house may save you some major grief in the event of an emergency.
This main supply line valve also referred to as the ‘stop and waste valve“, is typically located in the basement of many homes but can be located in other areas as well, or sometimes be boxed in or covered up during development or renovations.
This valve will shut off the supply of water to everything in the house, so best to know its whereabouts ahead of time, rather than scrambling to find it under the stress of an emergency.
Another proactive measure is to find and keep the phone numbers of the Water Services Department handy and to know the location of your curb stop outside, as well as ensure it’s accessibility.
The curb stop is an underground valve located on city property and controlled by the Water Services/Utilities Department. It is accessed through a steel tubular casing which has a cast iron cap, often painted blue and typically flush mounted at ground level in your yard. It requires a special valve key to shut off the water supply to the house should there be issues with the stop and waste valve inside.
Again, this curb stop valve will shut off the supply of water to your entire house, should this be necessitated by an emergency event.
When it comes to a water leak within plumbing fixtures and appliances in your home, it’s just a good idea to learn the location of the individual shut off valves for these items.
Typically, the toilet has a shut-off valve located in or around the back of the unit, or in the vanity, beside the shut-off valves for the taps. Likewise, a dishwasher shut off valve is probably located under the kitchen sink. More difficult to find and access may be the shut off for the water supply line to a refrigerator with an icemaker, as it is likely behind the unit and you’ll need to roll the unit out to see the water line and shut off valve properly.
Now that you are a bit more educated and prepared to deal with a water leak in your home, you’re all the better equipped to deal with a flood situation in a quick and efficient manner.
The do’s and dont’s when dealing with a flood situation
Most importantly, use caution!
Floors and stairs may be wet and slippery. Trip and fall hazards may be submerged and difficult to see properly, and things may have moved with the flow of water and be in places you don’t expect. Electrical outlets and cords may be underwater and there may be a possibility of electrocution. Look before you leap and ensure you’ll be safe before attempting to enter a flooded home. If in doubt, take the safe route and call an expert to assist this process.
If you are able to do so safely, turn off the water!
Sure, it seems obvious but when you’re feeling a bit panicked and startled, it’s amazing how many people don’t think of this simple action. Just remember to be cautious and err on the side of safety if you feel there are hazards. This is the moment where you’re glad you were proactive and took the time to learn the location of that main water supply valve, right?
Call a plumber.
Regardless of everything else, there will be the need to get a repair done, unless of course you’re a ‘handy person’ and can do the work your self. Isolating the leak and getting the water back on to the rest of your house will certainly make your life easier, as well as aid in getting started on a cleanup. Of course, some issues may be more difficult to fix and an expert may be required. Knowing when to have a plumbing professional help you is important for several reasons, including the insurance claim process. Improper repairs causing recurring issues are considered separate incidents and will require additional claims and deductibles, should you need to make one.
Getting out the mop and some towels and cleaning up as much water as possible will help the overall cause. It is a requirement of all home insurance that the homeowner makes an effort to mitigate loss whenever possible. This includes the removal of water, the opening of windows if the weather permits and you can access them, the turning on of fans or your air conditioner, and the removal of wet debris etc.
Manage your assets.
Obviously, keeping things from getting wet in the first place is the best line of defense, so do what you can to stop water from getting further into a room or area of your home and move furniture and other items before the water gets to them.
If some water has entered a room, do what you can to protect things like upholstered furniture, including cushions, by propping them up or moving them to higher ground. If things are safe where they stand but there is a risk to the wooden legs, cover them with plastic or aluminum foil.
Remove rugs and other items located on the floor, more so if they are wet. Bare floors will dry faster and so will rugs if placed in an area where they can drip dry.
Don’t use a vacuum cleaner! Only wet vacuums can be used to remove water and using a regular vacuum will destroy the equipment, plus present a shock or fire hazard.
Do not operate any electrical equipment or appliances! Do not turn on televisions, radios, computers or any other electrical appliances while standing on wet carpet or floors, particularly those that are bare concrete or tile.
Stay away from outlets and plugs! Again, do not plug in or unplug any electrical appliances or even touch anything that is plugged into an outlet, for risk of electrocution.
Do not turn up the heat! Mould will grow in warm and wet conditions to keep things as cool as possible, with consideration given to freezing conditions of course.
If the situation is severe and you cannot get things under control on your own, involve the professionals and call a restoration crew.
Time is the enemy! The first 24 hours after a flood situation is the most critical, as conditions rapidly deteriorate with each passing hour. Water leaks are messy and can be daunting to clean up but when dealt with quickly and properly, damage can be surprisingly minimal. Most restoration companies use the 24-48 hour time frame for mould growth, the likes of which can drastically affect the mitigation process.
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