Your Complete Flood Remediation Checklist

Author: Diana Rodriguez-Zaba
Last Updated on

It’s one of the hardest jobs a homeowner can face. It’s an enormous challenge for businesses too. Cleaning up after a flood takes time, hard work and patience.

This flood remediation checklist is designed to help you with initial recovery efforts. You can’t do it all by yourself, but there are important steps you can take to jump-start property restoration after you’ve experienced flooding due to heavy rain, a broken pipe, or other situation.

A 12-Point Flood Remediation Checklist

Recovering from flood damage involves removing contaminated water, reducing interior humidity and dealing with mold-damaged materials. As you work through the flood remediation process, be sure to take these precautions.

• Confirm that storm damage hasn’t destabilized the structure.

Wear protective gear including gloves, boots and safety goggles.

• Use ground fault circuit interrupters on all outlets and extension cords.

flood remediation checklist

1. Call Your Insurance Company

Most homeowners insurance policies don’t cover storm flooding, but you may be covered under the National Flood Insurance Program. Depending on your location, you might qualify for FEMA disaster assistance.

• Ask your agent for details. He or she can also recommend a professional flood damage restoration service in your area.

• If you can’t stay in your home during flood remediation, give your insurer your temporary contact information.

2. Call a Licensed Electrician

Water damage left behind after storm flooding can compromise a structure’s electrical system. Don’t take any chances. Even if you can shut down the main circuit box without standing on a damp surface, call in a licensed electrician. He or she will inspect the property and make sure it’s safe.

3. Document Your Losses

• Develop a digital record of damages by taking photos with date and time stamps.

flood damaged items in basement

• Document everything from soaked personal belongings to wet furniture and soggy carpets.

• Document how high the water rose inside your home or business.

• Drywall will have to be removed at least 2 feet or more above the documented waterline.

4. Start Initial Cleanup

Tackle preliminary flood cleanup one job at a time. Always wear your protective gear, and be prepared for a long-term project. Flood remediation can take several weeks or even months.

• Shovel mud from hard surfaces, and spray wash when possible.

• Use hot water and heavy-duty detergent for initial cleaning.

• Run fans and dehumidifiers to speed up the drying process.

• Mix a quarter cup of chlorine bleach with 1 gallon of water to use as a first-pass disinfectant.

• Protect yourself from airborne contaminants and mold spores by wearing a disposable N95 mask.

5. Sort Through Carpets and Furnishings

• It’s impossible to prevent mold growth on flood-damaged carpets, upholstered furnishings and mattresses.

Move ruined items outside as soon as possible to reduce interior humidity and mold cross-contamination.

flood damaged carpet

Don’t try to dry wood furniture outside as sunlight can warp frames and trim. Dry it inside, but be prepared for the process to take weeks or months.

6. Open Up the Walls

• Walls that appear undamaged can hide moisture that causes mold growth and wood rot.

Tear out drywall up to and above the previously documented waterline.

tearing water damaged drywall

Remove wet insulation, dig out and rinse away mud, and continue the drying process with fans and dehumidifiers.

7. Pull Up Hardwood Floor Boards

• Minimize hardwood floor buckling by removing one floor board every few feet.

Clean, sanitize and dry wood floors before replacing boards and taking care of repairs.

• The drying process can take weeks or months depending on the extent of flood damage.

8. Remove Sheet and Tile Flooring

Whether your subfloor is wood or concrete, remove sheet and tile flooring so that the structure can dry. Severe water damage can make the job difficult. Most homeowners leave this project to flood damage restoration specialists.

9. Closely Inspect Wood Subfloors

It’s possible to dry damp wood subfloors, but the remediation process can take a very long time. You have to watch out for swelling and warping. Plywood and OSB subfloors that were submerged under floodwaters must be replaced.

10. Clean Remaining Walls, Floors and Trim

Even materials that don’t need replacing need to be cleaned and sanitized after storm flooding. Otherwise, walls, floors and woodwork affected by floodwater remain contaminated and serve as breeding grounds for unhealthy mold growth.

Sanitize walls, baseboards and floors with a phosphate-free cleaner.


Clean walls by working from top to bottom.

Kill surface mold with a chlorine bleach and water solution.

• Keep fans and dehumidifiers running 24/7.

11. Clean and Dry Personal Belongings

Take care of personal belongings with preliminary cleanup and remediation techniques. Focus on important documents, records and photographs. Let restoration specialists finish salvaging valuable items.

12. Be Careful With Mold Cleanup

While most property owners can handle small DIY mold cleanup jobs, flooding usually leaves behind extensive mold and mildew problems. If you face any of the following issues, don’t try to do it yourself. Let certified mold removal technicians take care of the work.

• Moldy areas include porous materials like drywall, wall coverings, wood and concrete.

• You’re dealing with mold growth that covers more than 3 square feet.

• Mold removal requires cleaning hard-to-reach areas behind walls and inside ceilings.

• You suffer from respiratory or immune system problems.

It’s a Time-Consuming Process

Natural flood disasters don’t happen every day, but the aftermath can be overwhelming. It’s important to recognize that flood remediation is a time-consuming process.

It can take weeks and months to dry out building materials, furnishings and belongings. DIY mold removal doesn’t always eliminate fungal growth on the first pass. Keep your eye on the big picture, and be patient.

Help Is Just Around the Corner in Chicago

Not everyone has the time or resources for DIY flood cleanup. Even when you take care of initial water damage by yourself, you always have expert help just around the corner. With headquarters in both Chicago and Skokie, our industry-certified technicians are ready to roll 24/7.

servicemaster chicago team

When you need emergency restoration services after flooding, call us at 773-647-1985. From flood remediation, cleanup and mold removal to complete property restoration, you can count on us here at ServiceMaster by Zaba.