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    How To Weather the Storm

    When heavy rains cause flooding, it can present property owners with various challenges.  Many times, insurance policies do not include flood protection if caused by rising bodies of lakes, rivers, streams, and oceans.  If you live in a flood plain or storm drain area, you may also be unable to obtain any flood coverage.  We recently discovered this the hard way ourselves after our office flooded.  After waiting 3 weeks to hear back from our insurance adjuster, we were very surprised to hear that that the damages were going to be our responsibility to fix.


    Be Better Prepared!

    * Resolve any grading issues surrounding your property. The land should slope away from the building.

    * Make sure your gutters are free of debris, and that your downspouts have collars to direct the flow of rainwater away from your property.  You may also consider extending them underground.

    * If you don’t already have one, install a sump pump. Make sure your sump pump is always in good working order, and preferably has a generator or battery backup with fully charged batteries. Have wide trenches or French drains dug in the basement that run into the sump pump.

    * Floor or Footing drains in or outside your property should be free of any debris.

    * If your foundation is comprised of cinder block, maintain the integrity of the waterproofing barrier.  If there are cracks in your foundations, make sure they have been thoroughly sealed, preferably by a professional. You can purchase a moisture alarm at most home improvement stores that will let you know when too much moisture is evident.

    * Caulk around any leaky basement windows, or have new windows installed.


    Act quickly after discovering water damage.

    Mildew and mold will begin developing within 24-48 hours of exposure to moisture. It will quickly continue to grow until the moisture is completely removed and the mold is exterminated. Dry out the area as quickly as possible to prevent the mold from spreading. Use a shop vac or carpet cleaner to remove any standing water, then use a dehumidifier and fans to remove excess moisture from the air. Open the windows if humidity outside is lower than inside. Remove all wet items from the area, including furniture, carpets, etc.

    If your walls have been damaged by a flood, you will need to remove all the wet material, including insulation, wood by-products, and drywall.  Drywall is incredibly porous and should be replaced to a foot above the watermark if it is damaged.


    Size up any mold growth.

    If you are faced with a significant amount of mold growth, consider hiring professional cleaners. Mold is very hazardous when being cleaned, because disturbing the mold will cause it to release spores which can cause allergic reactions to people and pets. If your damage is minimal, you can purchase mold control and prevention products at your local home improvement store to spray on drywall and studs. Note that bleach does NOT kill mold spores! Always wear gloves, a mask or respirator, and eye protection when cleaning mold, and ensure that the area is well-ventilated.


    If you have insurance coverage

    Make sure you keep all receipts associated with your damages and your clean-up process. Include your supplies and any services that you hire. Even motel bills for nights you can’t stay in the house count. When reporting your claim to your insurance company, include before and after pictures and/or video, if possible.


    Hopefully, you find this blog helpful and will give further thought to preparing for the unpredictable.


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    Our agents write often to give you the latest insights on owning a home or property in the Northern Virginia area.