State University Extension
Home Maintenance And Repair - 01500010
Checking Buildings After A Flood
Safety Precautions in Entering Damaged
Use extreme caution when entering any damaged building:
1. If you must enter at night, carry a flashlight or other light.
2. If gas lines are broken, turn off gas at the meter or tank.
3. Do not smoke or use any open flame.
4. Watch for loose plaster and ceilings that could fall.
5. Open as many doors and windows as possible to remove moisture, odors
and flammable or toxic gases. If windows are stuck tight, take off
window strips and remove entire sash. If doors are stuck, drive out
door hinge pins with a screwdriver and hammer, and remove doors.
If you are not qualified to judge the stability of a foundation, hire a
contractor to make this inspection. A neighborhood might join together
in hiring a contractor for this work.
1. Examine foundations and supports for undermining. If walls or
foundations have settled or cracked, uncover footings and raise,
reinforce or brace any settled sections. Be extremely careful when
uncovering footings, because of the possibility of cavernous washouts.
2. If underlying material has been washed away, fill spaces to within
12 inches of the footing with gravel or crushed rock. Fill the
remaining space with concrete reinforced with steel rods.
3. Check piers for settling or shifting.
4. If the building has shifted or the floors have settled badly, it
might be necessary to install temporary bracing until extensive work
can be done.
5. Drain any crawl spaces which contain water.
Walls and Ceilings
1. Wash out mud, dirt, and debris as soon as possible with a hose and
mop, cloth or sponge. Clean walls and floors before silt of mud dries.
2. Start cleaning from the top floor or upper limit of flooding and
work downward toward the first floor or basement.
3. Check walls with a level or plumb bob.
4. Brace walls where necessary.
5. Check mudsills, plates, soles, and anchorage. Replace or repair
where necessary, using redwood, cedar or treated lumber.
6. To speed up drying of flooded studding and insulation, remove all
siding strips or plaster from upper and lower parts of the walls. Do
not repaint walls until they are completely dry. This might take
several months. Flooded insulation may be ruined.
7. Remove loose plaster. After house is completely dry, repair damaged
plaster on walls and ceilings. Badly damaged plaster walls can be
resurfaced with gypsum board or plywood.
Flooded wooden floors will dry out slowly. Don't build fires to speed
up their drying as this could cause cracking or splitting from uneven
drying. However, if the central heating system is operating, keep the
temperature of the house at 60 to 70 degrees F. to hasten drying
without causing additional problems.
1. To prevent further buckling and warping, drive nails where the floor
tends to lift or bulge.
2. After the floors are completely dry, plane or sand them level.
3. If floors are too badly damaged to be refinished, lay a new floor
over the old, or cover with carpet, vinyl or linoleum.
4. If a concrete floor is badly damaged, break it up and install a new
floor. If damage is minor, patch with a rich mixture of concrete
containing no coarse gravel aggregate.
1. Use plastic sheeting or roll roofing for temporary repair on solid
deck roofs covered with asphalt shingles, wood shingles or roll
2. Use knife consistency patching compounds to repair minor leaks.
3. You will probably have to replace damaged metal roofing on a spaced
This article was written by Anne Field, Extension Specialist, Emeritus,
with reference from the USDA Disaster Handbook.
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