Let flooded houses dry before renovating
Wild weather on the east coast has left many houses in Queensland and Northern NSW flooded. This signifies unplanned renovations are on the cards for the next few months. While home owners will be rushing to get their home back to normal, Archicentre has advised to wait until the house has completely dried out before filing an insurance claim.
Unfortunately this takes time. It could take several months for a house to completely dry out. However rushing into renovations before the house is dry can lead to problems down the track with water damage below the surface. Mould and weakening of materials caused by water damage can ruin a renovation and required re-renovating at a later date.
Archicentre, the building advisory service of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects said water damage in homes can be quite extensive requiring all chipboard cupboards, doors and plaster work to be totally replaced.
Archicentre outlines a checklist for dealing with a flooded home. Don’t jump on the phone and file an insurance claim, as further problems may arise as the house dries out. Money spend on repairs in the short term will be wasted when replacement and renovation is necessary in the medium term.
* Be careful of power points and switches that collect mud and impurities. Ensure a licensed electrician checks these before reconnection.
* Water can penetrate gas stoves and other appliances, flooding pilot lights and causing damage to interior pipes. A flooded house full of fumes is extremely volatile. Natural gas, compressed natural gas and propane gas should be checked by a licensed registered plumber.
* Applied floor finishes like vinyl tiles, cork flooring and timber strip laid over concrete slabs may severely buckle and this could take a few weeks to recover. For instance, with cork flooring the glue delaminates and when wet, it bubbles up.
* Additionally, particle board cabinets will expand and collapse after too long underwater. Don’t waste money repairing cabinets that need replacing.
* Following floods, large pools typically form under the house. These areas need to be re-graded to prevent long-term structural damage like rotted floor framing.
* Keep the under floor space well-ventilated. Timber floors could otherwise dry unevenly, and result in twisting and warping.
* Flooded concrete slabs need to be dried out thoroughly before laying carpet. This can take several weeks. New carpet on a wet slab will ultimately rot.
* Sub-floor central heating ducts can fill with water. Ducts may need to be cleaned or replaced if they are full of mud.
* Plasterboard walls require time and patience before repainting. The outside walls probably feel dry, but inside the walls are wet and invite mould. If there's mould on the walls, use hypochlorite bleach to kill it. Then wait at least a week before painting
* Brick veneer walls may contain fibreglass insulation batts that absorb large amounts of water and can spread more serious damage. Remove part of the plaster and take the batts out. If left untouched, it could destroy repaired wall and floor finishes.
It is also a timely reminder for those living in flood prone areas to check their insurance policy covers all kind of flood damage, regardless of origin of the flood. This will prevent an unaffordable repair bill if a flood should arise.