How Do I Prevent Mold In My Basement After a Flood?

How Do I Prevent Mold In My Basement After a Flood?
This past summer, our crews have been very busy helping flood affected residents in Southern Saskatchewan. Recently, I came across an article by Mike Holmes, recognized as Canada’s most trusted contractor, that provides some excellent advice on how you should deal with a flooded basement and how you can prevent mold.
RESOLVE THE SOURCE OF FLOODING
One of the most important considerations is to determine why your basement flooded. In short, determine the cause.
In many instances, homes flood because of backed up drains, leaky pipes, human error (ie. leaving a tap on and forgetting), sewer back ups, malfunctioning sump pumps, or the lack of a sump pump.
However, Holmes questions the value of fixing a re-finished basement if you live in a flood zone, where mother nature is the cause:
We’re getting more extreme weather, which in some cases means more precipitation. If you live on flood plains, in a floodway or near a river or stream, the risk of repeated flooding in your home is high. Ask yourself: How many basements do you want to pay for?
Excellent question!
BEGIN THE CLEAN UP IMMEDIATELY TO PREVENT MOULD/MOLD GROWTH
Holmes provides excellent advice:
If water is getting into your home, deal with it immediately because there’s the potential for mould growth — especially if your basement is finished.
According to Holmes, mold will begin to grow within 24 hours, so it is important that you get the clean up started immediately. In addition, Holmes is highly critical of the practice of using bleach and recommends that only professionals be hired because mould is a safety hazard:
Most people would just use bleach to clean mould, but that’s wrong. Any surface with over 10 square feet of mould should be cleaned only by licensed professionals. Mould is a huge safety hazard. If you don’t clean it properly, mould spores can become airborne, contaminate other areas and end up in your lungs. That’s why you hire only qualified professionals for the cleanup and rebuild.
With respect to clean up, Holmes recommends a complete gut of a flooded basement because he thinks the long term benefit of doing this far outweighs the extra costs in the short term. For instance, the standard practice is to remove only one foot of drywall above the flood line. Holmes does not recommend this because moisture can creep up behind the surface, so he recommends that all drywall be removed.
In addition, Holmes recommends the replacement of your electrical panel if it was submerged under water, and recommends that all flooring, including the sub-floor be removed. Insulation should be removed as well because it absorbs moisture. Finally, he states that caution should be taken with flood water because it could contain sewage waste.
Since water is such a destructive force, Holmes also recommends that the structural integrity of the home be investigated as well.
ENSURE THE BASEMENT IS COMPLETELY DRY BEFORE ANY REBUILD BEGINS
The most important piece of advice Holmes provides is the fact that he recommends that the basement must be completely dry before any rebuild begins. The key is to measure the humidity level and ensure that the air is cleaned properly. Third party air quality tests are recommended to ensure that the air quality is safe as well.
In short, patience is the key. Proper basement clean up takes time. Trying to fast track the process without properly ensuring that the basement is completely dry will create future moisture concerns which could lead to mold problems which will basically negate any rebuild done.

Rebuilding Your Basement After a Flood

Rebuilding Your Basement After a Flood
Recently, Mike Holmes, recognized as Canada’s most trusted contractor, contributed an article: Rebuilding the basement after a flood to the National Post.
Holmes provides sound advice on how you should properly deal with a basement flood to ensure that you fix it for the long term. Here are some key points.
RESOLVE THE SOURCE OF FLOODING
One of the most important considerations is to determine why your basement flooded. In short, determine the cause.
In many instances, homes flood because of backed up drains, leaky pipes, human error (ie. leaving a tap on and forgetting), sewer back ups, malfunctioning sump pumps, or the lack of a sump pump. The cause is quite clear.
However, Holmes questions the value of fixing a re-finished basement if you live in a flood zone, where mother nature is the cause:
We’re getting more extreme weather, which in some cases means more precipitation. If you live on flood plains, in a floodway or near a river or stream, the risk of repeated flooding in your home is high. Ask yourself: How many basements do you want to pay for?
Excellent question!
BEGIN THE CLEAN UP IMMEDIATELY TO PREVENT MOULD/MOLD GROWTH
Holmes provides excellent advice:
If water is getting into your home, deal with it immediately because there’s the potential for mould growth — especially if your basement is finished.
According to Holmes, mold will begin to grow within 24 hours, so it is important that you get the clean up started immediately. In addition, Holmes is highly critical of the practice of using bleach and recommends that only professionals be hired because mould is a safety hazard:
Most people would just use bleach to clean mould, but that’s wrong. Any surface with over 10 square feet of mould should be cleaned only by licensed professionals. Mould is a huge safety hazard. If you don’t clean it properly, mould spores can become airborne, contaminate other areas and end up in your lungs. That’s why you hire only qualified professionals for the cleanup and rebuild.
With respect to clean up, Holmes recommends a complete gut of a flooded basement because he thinks the long term benefit of doing this far outweighs the extra costs in the short term. For instance, the standard practice is to remove only one foot of drywall above the flood line. Holmes does not recommend this because moisture can creep up behind the surface, so he recommends that all drywall be removed.
In addition, Holmes recommends the replacement of your electrical panel if it was submerged under water, and recommends that all flooring, including the sub-floor be removed. Insulation should be removed as well because it absorbs moisture. Finally, he states that caution should be taken with flood water because it could contain sewage waste.
Since water is such a destructive force, Holmes also recommends that the structural integrity of the home be investigated as well.
ENSURE THE BASEMENT IS COMPLETELY DRY BEFORE ANY REBUILD BEGINS
The most important piece of advice Holmes provides is the fact that he recommends that the basement must be completely dry before any rebuild begins. The key is to measure the humidity level and ensure that the air is cleaned properly. Third party air quality tests are recommended to ensure that the air quality is safe as well.
In short, patience is the key. Proper basement clean up takes time. Trying to fast track the process without properly ensuring that the basement is completely dry will create future moisture concerns which could lead to mold problems which will basically negate any rebuild done.

Why Sewage Contamination Testing is Vitally Important for Flood Victims

Why Sewage Contamination Testing is Vitally Important for Flood Victims
The past couple of week’s Got Mold? has been very busy helping residents of High River, Alberta deal with flooding concerns.
One of the complaints we are encountering from home owners is the fact that their insurance claims are being denied because flooding is not covered under their policies.
One of the major causes of flooding, particularly during periods of heavy rainfall, are Sewer Backups
Heavy periods of rainfall inundate public sewer systems with large amounts of groundwater and stormwater flow coming into the sewer lines. This means the sewer lines get too full and are incapable of handling the overflow, resulting in a sewer backup.
If your insurance claim was denied, there is a way to validate your claim.
Call Got Mold? and we will take a swab sample of the affected building materials and send it to an accredited lab for ecoli and coliform testing.
The tests will verify if the cause of the flooding was a sewer backup. If the test verifies that there is sewage contamination, then be sure to follow these action steps!
Just recently, we took a sample for detection of sewage for one of the projects we are working on and the lab report that came back proved positive for the presence of E. coli and Enterococci, which are commonly used as indicator bacteria for fecal/sewage contamination. These results can now be used by our client to have the clean up covered by their insurance policy.
Bottom line, the minor cost to test for sewage contamination could potentially save thousands of dollars and is worth the investment to ensure that you maximize the premiums you paid for insurance. Most importantly, if sewage is detected, you then have the proper information to ensure that the clean up is done properly to prevent future health issues caused by the fecal contamination.