With last week’s storms and weather reports of more to come this weekend homeowners may be tempted to try to get into their family homes and “rescue” as much as they can. While it sounds like a good idea, it may not be I recently had the opportunity to discuss with the experts at Abacus Plumbing, Air Conditioning & Electrical what some of the most common dangers are and how to avoid them.
Lisa Carey: What’s the most common danger families encounter when trying to recover from flooding damage like Houston is currently experiencing?
Abacus Plumbing, Air Conditioning & Electrical: Homeowners may be tempted to rush into their homes in an attempt to get rid of the water as quickly as they can, but t his a very dangerous idea and potentially deadly. Even something as small as unseen exposed electric wires and chords hiding under the water can lead to bodily injury.
L.C. What is a “hit list” of commonly undetected dangers in the home after flooding?
APACE: A few things homeowners need to be particularly concerned about are:
Plumbing vents and exhaust system installed too closely to a door, soffit vent, window, or bathroom/kitchen vent can be a hazard. Reentry of sewer gases is significantly worse during rain, sewer, or storm drain when flooded. It is important to clear all ventilation and exhaust systems of debris and there are several electrical danger zones which can be problematic and even life threatening which professionals should make you aware of before you re-enter your home.
Common factors that result in negative air pressure with in your home include: Bathroom and Kitchen Exhaust Fans, Fireplaces, Exhaust Ventilation Systems and Tight Building Construction.
L.C. What causes the flooding in our homes and what is one of the most dangers conditions which exist because of it?
APACE: Flooding generally occurs when there is standing water above the house foundation grade outside your home resulting in 6” or more standing water within your basement. This standing water can be a result of heavy rain, a river that has overflown, or backed up sewage lines. Even seepage from small cracks in your basements foundation that result in one half inch to a full inch of water can cause serious damage that costs thousands of dollars to fix. Do not enter a flooded room or area where electrical equipment may still be plugged in – there is a high risk of shock. Remember, electricity can travel through water or wet material like carpets.
If the main switch at your electrical panel was left in the “on” position prior to a flood, contact your LDC (local utility) to ensure power to the building has been disconnected before attempting to access the panel. Never assume any part of a flooded electrical system is safe, not even the main switch or circuit breaker.
L.C. What is back drafting and why is it a danger to the family home after flooding?
APACE: Back – drafting occurs when negative air pressure inside a home or building draws gases and other chemicals into the building from a plumbing drain system that is typically backed up with rain water. This results in the spreading of unpleasant and sometime dangerous odors, such as explosive methane gas, throughout your home.
If mold does begin to form, the EPA recommends using effective fungicides that can be purchased at major home improvement stores. If however, the mold growth is extensive and visible it is highly suggested that you immediately hire a certified professional to remove all the mold from your basement.
L.C. Are there some things homeowners can do to try to avoid flooding damage? Of course not everything will work with wide spread damages like those from last weeks flooding, but those are unusual circumstances. Of course, I’m sure that there is no fool proof plan and Mother Nature has quite a bit to do with it.
APACE: Homeowners can try these tips to help prevent flooding in their homes.
Inspect Roof Gutters and Downspouts
Run a 65 to 70 Pints Per Day Capacity Dehumidifier 24/7 from April – October
Install 10 milliliter Plastic Vapor Barriers Between Finished Carpet and the Basement Floor
Properly Install Drywall
Install a Sump Pump Equipped with a Backup Battery Supply
Repair All Vertical Cracks in the Foundation
Thank you so much APACE for the tips and warnings of the dangers in our homes after flooding.
About Abacus Plumbing, Air Conditioning & Electrical
Abacus Plumbing, Air Conditioning & Electrical is a full service residential contractor that has been serving the greater Houston area for over 50 years. Abacus is a member of the Greater Houston Women’s Chamber of Commerce and has an A+ rating on the Better Business Bureau of Houston. Abacus is licensed and insured and offers 24/7 emergency service. To learn more about Abacus Air Conditioning, Plumbing & Electrical, visit them online or call (713) 812-7070.