RESTORING YOUR HOME – REPAIRS
When choosing a builder or a restoration company, be sure to get a few quotes and always ask for references or confirmation of membership of trade bodies. Beware of door-to-door builders as they may not be qualified. Always make sure your insurance company has approved of any work to be undertaken.
- Even after your property has dried out your brickwork may still contain moisture. The best way to dry this is through natural evaporation. Open all the air vents to speed the process up.
- Keep an eye out for cracks in the walls as bricks can shrink or crack as they dry.
- Do not repaint brickwork until it is completely dry.
- You may notice a white salty growth on the walls. This will stop when the wall is fully dry and can be removed with a brush.
- If brickwork fails to dry have an expert check your property for rising damp.
- Covers on airbricks should be removed once the floodwater has receded.
- Do not light fires for at least two weeks after flooding in a brick fireplace. Steam will be created if the bricks are not dry and this can damage the chimney.
- Remove floor coverings such as vinyl, carpet or tiles. Insulation materials that have become wet should also be removed, disposed of and replaced.
- Chipboard floors will be seriously damaged by floodwater and should be removed and replaced. If this is not possible, they must be strengthened with wooden struts from below.
- The spaces beneath concrete floors should dry out naturally and the floor will not be affected. If you think additional ventilation is needed you should contact a builder.
- If your property has suspended wooden floors, some boards should be lifted so that any water present can be removed. This can be achieved by draining through air bricks, using a pump or if necessary cutting holes in the perimeter walls of your property. Do not attempt to cut holes without professional advice.
- If floor joists show signs of rot have them replaced and treat the surrounding area to prevent spread.
- Floors that are heaved or cracked should be replaced if they do not return to their original level. If they are at their original level, you can build another floor on top of them. If this is the case a vapour barrier should be installed between them.
- The best way to test a floor for moisture is to use a meter. The safe moisture level for softwoods is 18%.
Glass and Windows
- Clean all windows and oil locks and hinges to prevent corrosion.
- Single glazing is unlikely to be affected by floodwater, but check the condition of the putty, window locks etc, to ensure that the window is secure.
- Double glazed units should be inspected to ensure that floodwater has not eroded the edge seal. Check for mud and water trapped in the hollow of windows and door frames. If there is moisture inside the glass drill holes at the top and bottom of the frame to drain it out. If there is condensation between the frames the unit will have to be replaced.
- Sash windows may distort and swell following a flood. Do not force them open as this can cause further damage. The swelling should reduce during the drying period. If it does not return to its normal size when the wood is completely dry, then it can be planed to fit the frame.
- If sash windows have to be opened to assist with drying the property then remove the beading and the opening sash. Temporary beading can be screwed into position for added security when the property is unoccupied.
- If wood can be dried within a few weeks then decay is unlikely.
- Wood framed walls need to be fully exposed unless the flooding only lasted a few hours. In order to do this, plasterboard, vapour control membranes and insulation should be removed up to the highest level of the flood water.
- Wooden window frames may swell and jam when wet. Have an expert check whether rot is present. Wet timber can be treated with preservative plugs. Once dry, the frames can be redecorated.
- Wooden staircases may have become unstable and weak. Check the support of the staircase and, if required, strengthen it with extra struts. Stabilise loose threads once the staircase has dried out.
- Fire doors are often constructed with layers of fire resistant compound packed in their cores. Floodwater can permanently damage these, so the doors should always be replaced.
- Wooden trim and door framing attached to the wall may deteriorate during prolonged drying periods.
- If there is more than 18% moisture present in softwood, fungal growth can begin.
- Low permeability wall coverings like vinyl wallpapers, gloss paint and tiling will hamper the drying process. Remove the wall coverings from at least one side of the internal walls to help speed up the drying process.
- Timber stud partitions may rot if not dried properly.
- Do not redecorate for at least 3 months after the walls have dried and any repairs have been done. Painting or wall papering too soon can result in blistering, mould or peeling.
- Staining may occur when re-painting with emulsion. This can be avoided by using an oil-based or stain-block paint before applying emulsion.
- If your kitchen units are made of chipboard they will be severely damaged by flooding. Chipboard may expand, distort and lose its strength. They are impossible to disinfect properly and should be discarded. Consider replacing them with solid wood or plastic, especially if there is a risk of future floods.
Structural damage may not necessarily be evident for some time after the flood. Make regular checks on your property and check for these tell-tale signs:
- Changes in the line or appearance of a roof ridge (best observed from a distance).
- Buckling of walls, identified by horizontal cracking or areas that appear to have moved out of vertical alignment.
- Vertical or diagonal cracks which indicate that walls or footings have settled.
- Bulging or dislodged sections of property.
- Deep scouring which has lead to exposed foundations.
- Any new cracks bigger than 5mm above windows or doors.
If you notice any of these signs, contact your insurance company immediately and get the advice of a structural engineer or surveyor.
Building Control Officers in each Local Authority can provide advice and guidance on ensuring that any works planned to be carried out will comply with the building regulations.
Traditional brick or concrete walls will generally dry out well. Ensure bricks are clear for ventilation.
Hose down and scrub external walls.
You may notice a white salty growth on the walls. This will stop when the wall is fully dry and can be removed with a brush.
- If you wish to speed up the drying process, consult a professional builder about locating vents at about one metre intervals all around the property at damp-proof course level and also at the top of cavities behind masonry cladding.
- Seek professional advice if the walls of your property have had moisture sealants applied to them as this could hamper the drying process.
- Remove any substantial sediment or debris piled against the walls as this will exert a force upon the walls and should therefore be removed in careful stages. If the loading is both on the inside and outside of a wall, seek to maintain levels evenly as you remove them.
- Have wall cavities inspected by an expert to ensure that the walls are secure. If wall ties are corroded get an expert to replace them.
Plaster and Dry Lining
- Gypsum based plaster absorbs large amounts of water and will distort in a flood. Damaged plasterwork needs to be replaced, but wait until you are sure that crack movement and salt deposition have ceased.
- When you are re-plastering consider using tanking instead, as this is more resilient to floodwater.
- Where there is plasterboard, remove skirting boards. Then cut or drill holes through the plasterboards or dry linings to drain trapped water and aid ventilation.
- It is vital to ensure that the walls are thoroughly dry internally before beginning any redecoration.
- Insulation that has become wet must be removed and replaced as it loses its effectiveness and inhibits the drying process.
- Fibreglass insulation is an irritant. If removing, wear protective clothing.
- If you think that wall-cavity insulation has been damaged by flooding, seek expert advice before trying to remove it.