Extreme weather events are increasing due to climate change, and with them come flash floods, rising river levels, and mammoth tidal swells. Many business owners don’t even think about flood response measures until after their businesses have been partially washed away or are submerged in contaminated water and silt. It’s worth knowing what to do so that you can react quickly and get your business up and running straight away.
Tips for Cleaning Your Office After Flood Damage
Flooding is perhaps one of the worst disasters a business owner can face. The task of cleaning up afterwards is a mammoth one and needs to be undertaken properly if you’re not to suffer long-term damage to the fabric of your property.
The first thing you need to do is get rid of any remaining water. For this a submersible pump is ideal, as they’re portable and so can be moved to the areas where they’re most needed. They’re able to move water quickly and can be powered from the mains or a portable generator.
Once you’ve got rid of the water, the next step is to clear out any mud and sludge. Be aware that flood water is usually contaminated with water from drains and sewers, so make sure you wear protective clothing.
Any furniture needs to be taken out of the office as soon as possible. Any fabric furniture such as couches, soft furnishings, carpets will need to be destroyed, as they will be contaminated and are almost impossible to clean effectively.
Veneered timber furniture – such as flat-pack bookcases and filing cabinets – will need to be thrown away too, as being soaked in water will cause the inner fibreboard to swell. Solid wood furniture may be recoverable, depending on how much immersion it’s suffered; consult a professional restorer if you’re unsure.
Documents, files and important papers can often be restored, but you don’t need to tackle these straight away. A good tip is to clean off any mud and dirt and then put them in plastic bags and freeze them. This will protect them and prevent them from going mouldy until such time as you can clean them properly or consult a restorer.
Electrical appliances will need to be thoroughly cleaned, but for small items such as desk fans and phones it isn’t cost-effective so it’s probably better to throw them away and replace them if you can.
You can now turn your attention to the building itself. You’ll need to get the electrics checked by an electrician before turning them back on. Plaster on walls will have soaked up flood water, and in the case of solid plaster this will need to hacked off up to the level of the water and re-done. Plasterboard will usually need to be removed completely and replaced.
Fibre cavity-wall insulation will need to be removed and replaced, as it soaks up water and can hold it for a long time. Any remaining surfaces such as floors need to be uncovered so they can be allowed to dry effectively; they should also be thoroughly disinfected to remove any contamination.
Just remember that before you do anything, speak to your insurance company. Some insurance companies will insist on sending a loss adjuster to your premises before you start ripping out the damaged materials. They may advise you on chemical treatments and what is and isn’t covered by your policy.
For more advice on dealing with flooding damage contact the team at Anchor Pumps.