Let flood-damaged homes dry thoroughly before installing new coverings
WAYNESVILLE, Mo. – Before replacing drywall and floor coverings in your flooded home, make sure building materials have had enough time to dry out, cautions the American Red Cross and University of Missouri Extension.
Failing to do so can leave your home infested with mold. “That will create health issues in the home for years to come,” said Eric Evans, MU Extension emergency management specialist.
“There are claims that certain chemicals can be sprayed on building materials that will permanently prevent mold growth,” Evans said. “But if the building materials are not dried down to 15 percent moisture, there is no known material that can do that.”
There are materials that can kill existing mold, but nothing will keep the mold from returning to the wet materials, Evans added.
“To avoid long-term problems with mold, mildew and dry rot, you need to let building materials dry out before covering them with new finishes,” he said. “Use a moisture meter to make sure the materials are dried to 15 percent moisture before reinstalling drywall and other coverings.”
The damage and contamination left by floodwaters can create hazards to your health and safety. Evans urges people to take some basic precautions during cleanup:
-Do not enter a building if it does not look structurally sound.
-Make sure gas and electricity are off.
-Be sure you’re up to date on your tetanus shot. Contact your local health department for more information.
-Wear sturdy shoes or boots and gloves when handling flood-contaminated materials. Wash your hands and face frequently, or use hand sanitizer.
If you are going to be cleaning or removing mold-infested material, wear rubber gloves and a respirator mask with an N-95 rating, Evans says. Other face masks may not effectively filter airborne mold particles. Inexpensive N-95 masks often are available from hardware and home-improvement stores.
MU Extension has a step-by-step guide to cleaning flood-damaged homes. The free publication covers electrical systems, repairing walls, cleaning furniture, flooring and floor coverings, bedding and kitchen items, and controlling mold and mildew.
The guide includes financial advice on such topics as filing insurance claims, avoiding fraud and hiring a contractor. There is also advice on coping with stress brought on by flooding.
Copies of “Resources for Your Flooded Home” are available at MU Extension offices, disaster recovery centers and online at http://extension.missouri.edu/MP904.
More online resources
-Flood-related news, publications and links from MU Extension: http://extension.missouri.edu/flood.
-Missouri River flood information on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/MoFloodInfo.
-Flood safety information from the American Red Cross: http://www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/flood.