Flood Damage And Your Health: How To Combat Mold After The Emergency

Posted on: 15 April 2015

While floods may come and go quickly, the damage they leave behind can be long-lasting. From the trauma of the experience to the mold in your home, you have a lot of work to do to restore your life and home to their previous states. Information is key, and the following tips will help you combat mold after a flood.

What Should Be Disposed Of

As costly and emotionally painful as throwing away your household belongings may be, it's in the best interest of everyone living in the home to dispose of anything possibly harboring mold. Damp and smelly items, as well as anything that was likely underwater should go, along with:

  • Carpeting and rugs
  • Furniture covered in upholstery
  • Small appliances with fans, such as your microwave
  • Books and papers

It's important that items damaged in a flood be disposed of properly. Consider what might be suitable for recycling and organize everything accordingly. Your local town or city offices may schedule a pickup of residential trash under these circumstances. Otherwise, a professional mold removal team will dispose of the corrupted items.

What You Can Likely Keep

Fortunately, some items can be salvaged if you clean them properly. While it's best to use your individual judgement piece by piece, the following should be safe to retain, provided there isn't any visible water damage:

  • Solid washables, such as dishes, glasses and jewelry
  • Wood furniture
  • Art which hung above flood levels
  • Clothing if properly cared for
  • Important documents (if these need to be copied or restored later, they should be immediately sealed in plastic)

Since mold is the playground of bacteria, disinfecting is essential for anything you intend to keep. If applicable, lay the item outside to dry and thoroughly decontaminate prior to returning it to the home. Wood furniture will likely require refinishing, so decide if the piece is of enough financial or sentimental value to retain.

Where Mold Is Likely To Creep

Even if flood waters simply swept through your home at the ground level, mold is capable of growing and spreading anywhere. Although you may not be able to see it, mold will likely fester in these locations:

  • Your HVAC drainage system
  • Ceiling tiles
  • Behind walls
  • Wallboard
  • Electrical outlets
  • Ductwork

The average homeowner isn't likely to be capable of detecting mold growth in many of these hard to reach and awkward areas. Professional inspection is recommended if the affected area is greater than 10 square feet. Because mold growth is a health concern, don't take chances or short-cuts. Additionally, in the event that you decide to sell the home in the future, this problem may come back to haunt you.

Symptoms To Watch Out For

After the clean-up, your home should be free of mold. However, since mold can be such a threatening and persistent problem, it's important that all occupants be aware of symptoms of possible reactions to any lingering mold. Pay attention to any unusual complaints and be aware of the body's natural response to the presence of mold, including symptoms like:

  • Stuffy nose
  • Sore throat
  • Watery eyes
  • Coughing
  • Rash

People with existing health problems, such as asthma or COPD, will likely experience greater difficulty in an environment where mold growth is prevalent. Also, at its most extreme, mold can evolve into a toxic-level threat, even to the healthiest bodies. Don't forget about potential hazards to your pets, too, if you have any. Be sure that no animal drinks from water sources that may be contaminated and keep them away from debris where sharp objects might pierce paw pads. What is toxic for you to breathe will not be safe for them either.

While the immediate threat from water damage may have been addressed, the danger can linger on long after a flood. Water seeps, and therefore, you need to be diligent for odd scents and peculiar spots around the house that could indicate mold growth in the future. However, in general, once you and a professional have addressed the flood aftermath, your home should be safe.