Three Types Of Hazards You Can Encounter When Cleaning Up Water Damage

Whether because they don't have insurance that covers professional cleanup and can't afford to foot the bill alone or whether it's simply a very small area of water damage that doesn't look like it needs professional help, some homeowners opt to make a DIY project of cleaning up water damage in their homes rather than calling in a cleanup team. If you're going to do this, you need to be apprised of the factors involved in a water damage situation that may create a health and safety risk for those working in the vicinity. Here are three types of hazards you may encounter during a water damage cleanup and how to avoid them.

1. Exposure to chemicals and pathogens

Chemicals such as pesticides, herbicides, and chemical fertilizers can enter your home with flood water, whether the floods are from a hurricane or a river that's overflowed its banks. If you're dealing with a situation that involves floodwaters entering your home from outside, it's best to call in a water damage professional; but in the wake of a hurricane, you may have difficulty finding an available company. In this case, be sure to use personal protective equipment such as rubber gloves, eye protection, and a face mask to filter the air you breathe. Be sure to clean all affected items with soap and water and discard anything that can't be cleaned. Pathogens, which can include bacteria and viruses as well as protozoa, can also be found in floodwaters. However, if you have water damage that's contained within your house, such as a burst pipe or overflowing toilet, bacteria can still multiply in the warm, wet environment. Again, take measures to protect yourself, especially if the water comes from a dirty source, and thoroughly clean and dry everything that's come in contact with the water.

2. Inhalation of mold spores

Mold spores are mainly a problem when standing water or damp materials remain in your house for a day or two. If you clean up all the water the same day it spills, you should be fine. However, if the water damage has remained for long enough to grow mold (for example, if it occurred while you were away for the weekend) you'll need to breathe through a mask and be sure to air the house out thoroughly after you've removed all the mold. If you have only a little mold (a significant amount of mold isn't a good DIY project; mold can cause serious health issues), you can bleach the surface it was growing on and then cover the surface with mold-retarding paint to protect yourself from a recurrence.

3. Electrical hazards

Electricity loves to travel through water, so be sure you shut off your electricity at the source before cleaning up any standing water in your home. Of course you'll need to have it turned on in order to run fans and dehumidifiers, but getting a head start on dehumidifying the air isn't as important as protecting yourself from electrical shocks, so turn it off, clean up the standing water, and then you can turn it back on again. This is important no matter how small the area of standing water is. However, if your house has a lot of damage (for example, if it's been through a hurricane), you'll also want to have an inspector come through and make sure it's actually safe to turn the electricity back on before you do so; the wiring system may have been damaged during the storm.

These are just three hazards that you need to guard against when working on a water damage DIY cleanup. If your house has been through a hurricane or a major flood, there could also be structural failings, poisonous snakes and insects, or disease-bearing wild animals sheltering in your home, or even dangerous gas leaks. If the damage is extensive and/or you're worried your house may be structurally compromised, it's best to call in a professional team. For professional help with water damage restoration, contact a company like Spotless Carpet Cleaners & Janitorial Services Inc.