Disaster Cleanup: How to Recover the Value of Your Home


Fires, floods, severe storms, earthquakes and more are some of the most devastating forces that homeowners may contend with during their years in a home. Depending on where a home is located, damage from one specific type of event can be more likely than others, but all can wreak havoc on a home. They can disrupt family life or even displace people entirely for several months or more. They can also cause tremendously expensive damage and can decrease a home’s property value. Understandably, homeowners in this situation want to return to life as usual without delay. More than that, homeowners want to restore the home’s property condition and value so that they do not suffer financially from the impact of the event.


Fire Damage

In the event of a fire, the first step in the restoration process is to assess damage to the structural elements of the home. If the structure is intact and the main damage is to the finishes of the home, you’re in good shape. This type of situation usually only occurs if the blaze was confined to a single room or section of the home.

Smoke and ash can cause significant damage to many areas of the home. Carpets, linens, and drapery will retain the smoke smell for weeks, sometimes months. While the smell can be eliminated eventually, homeowners may just want to replace these items.

Drywall and ceilings may retain the smoke smell, or may be stained by ash. Again, these surfaces may be cleaned and the smells and stains can be treated. If there is extensive damage or staining to any sections of drywall they should be replaced.

Non-porous surfaces are not necessarily safe from fire damage. While many treated wood floors are considered non-porous, flames can severely damage them. Tile floors may not burn, but grout can become very dirty and stained from ash that settles in. Tile floors often only need a thorough grout cleaning in the case of ash stains, but damage to wood floors or other surfaces will require more attention to the floors and subfloors.


Flood Damage

Flood damage recovery requires some similar steps as fire restoration, but goes above and beyond into preventative measures for mold.

Carpets are at high risk of retaining moisture and bacteria that leads to mold problems. Disaster cleanup services will often remove as much standing water from the flooded area as possible, then go into dehumidifying measures to dry out the air in the home as well as the affected surfaces. Certain circumstances require that carpet is pulled up and replaced. Depending on how long water has been standing on carpeted areas, the carpet, padding and even the subfloor may be damaged beyond repair and require replacement.

Drywall and baseboards are often affected as well. Since drywall will absorb water and expand, sections may need to be cut out and disposed of. Luckily, the entirety of drywall and ceilings may not have to be removed. Sections of damaged drywall can be replaced and patched up to appear uniform with other sections.

Drywall and ceilings that were not submerged should be checked for signs of other water damage or mold, but if they are unaffected they can be left intact. When removing soaked drywall, it is advisable to check the structure of the wall for any rot or water damage.

Hardwood flooring can experience significant damage in a flood. If there are any cracks in the seals of the floor, you may be able to see areas of bowing or staining. In some extreme cases, entire sections of the floor may turn up and slats will break away from each other. If there are visual indicators that the seal has been compromised, the floor should be further inspected to avoid mold problems down the road.

Tile should be waterproof in most cases, but if there are any doubts about the workmanship of the tile laying you may need to pull up the floor for the sake of the subfloor. Standing water can leave unsightly stains or slime on tile surfaces, but those can usually be cleaned fairly simply.


Mold Damage

Mold can be a byproduct of a flooding situation, or it can be an issue all of its own. Mold growth can happen anywhere in a home, but it is very common in bathrooms, carpets, and ventilation systems.

The key to mitigating mold is being vigilant in its identification and prevention. Be sure to use a circulation fan during steamy showers. Use a dehumidifying machine or system in your home in highly humid regions. Ensure carpets dry thoroughly after carpet cleaning prior to placing furniture back where it belongs. Consider a lower-moisture carpet cleaner rather than steam cleaning.

In the case that mold is already present, it will often require removal and replacement of affected porous surfaces. Bathroom drywall with mold, carpets and carpet padding should be removed and replaced. If there is mold in the HVAC system, a thorough check along every portion of the system should be done to determine where the abatement has to take place. Ducts and vents can be cleaned or replaced depending on how extensive the issue is.


Home restoration after these types of disasters can be quite the hassle. In order to ensure the value of a home isn’t destroyed, it is important to take disaster cleanup seriously and get it done correctly.


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