Your Complete Flood Remediation Checklist

By: Diana Rodriguez-Zaba
Updated on: April 4, 2024

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 in the basement or other parts of your home 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.

What Is Flood Remediation?

Think of the flood remediation process as the second phase of overall recovery. The first phase involves water damage mitigation. This initial response addresses the destruction left behind after a flood and minimizes further damage.

Flood remediation sets the stage for final property restoration. The work covers cleaning up, drying out and sanitizing all affected areas and materials.

Initial repairs are also a part of flood remediation. This ensures the structural integrity of water-damaged floors, walls and ceilings. Once remediation is complete, reconstruction work begins and continues until your property is completely restored to its pre-flood condition.

What Can Be Salvaged After A Flood?

When your house floods from rain after a storm event, the damage left behind is usually extensive. Much of it requires material tear-out and reconstruction. It’s very difficult to salvage floodwater-damaged carpets and soaked belongings.

However, water-damage professionals like ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba can save and clean a surprising number of items from flooded homes and businesses.

These are a few examples of things that can be salvaged after a flood:

  • Solid wood furniture that isn’t cushioned or padded
  • Clothing, drapes, area rugs and other fabrics
  • Photographs and important paper documents
  • Many types of electronics, including computers
  • Large appliances that haven’t been submerged

How Long Does It Take to Dry Out a House After a Flood?

flood remediation subfloor

The time needed to dry out a flooded property depends on several factors.

You can often clean up minor flooding in a few days, but drying out interiors can take a week or more. Drywall and wood are porous materials that require extensive structural drying techniques.

Industry-certified water damage technicians significantly reduce the time needed to dry interiors.

They closely monitor the process while using the following specialized equipment:

  • Centrifugal air movers
  • Heavy-duty dehumidifiers
  • Aerodynamic axial fans
  • Hardwood floor drying systems

How Long Should I Run a Dehumidifier After a Flood?

As soon as it’s safe to operate equipment, set up dehumidifiers and fans throughout the property. Leave everything running 24/7 for several weeks. Check dehumidifier reservoirs often so that they don’t overflow.

It’s very difficult to dry the interior of a flooded property with home dehumidifiers or rental equipment from the hardware store. Do everything you can to start the drying process, but plan on leaving this portion of flood remediation to certified water damage professionals.

Looking for a Flood Remediation Company in Chicago, IL? Turn to ServiceMaster by Zaba!

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.

From flood cleanup and mold removal to complete property restoration, you can count on us here at ServiceMaster by Zaba.

When you need emergency restoration services after flooding, call us at 773-647-1985