When is it safe to go back in a flood or fire damaged house?
After a flood or fire event, people often want to know when it will be safe to reenter their home or business. This depends on a number of factors like the severity of the flood/fire and the length of time after the flood/fire. There are often issues with both the strength of the structure and the air quality in the structure. It is absolutely imperative that you do what the professionals tell you – if you’re told not to enter your home, DO NOT ENTER!
Minor fires may cause minor structural damage, but severe fires can easily collapse walls and floors. Chances are, you’re not knowledgeable enough to say whether a house is structurally safe to be in. Framing, joists, posts, and beams may appear charred but sound. However, they’ve likely had some of their effective dimensions reduced to charcoal, meaning that they ain’t gonna hold what they need to hold!
Water damage is a little different. In major flood events, a major problem can be flood debris. Your home or business could be hit by a tree, car, boat, or even another house, with varying degrees of structural damage. A more insidious type of damage caused by water is rot: you can have wood that looks perfectly okay, but is rotting away. You might even live in your home for some time without realizing the problem, and this is a type of damage where the danger increases over time.
Length of Time After Damage
Time and damaged structures do not go well together. As a damaged structure sits and is exposed to the elements, it becomes more dangerous. A fire-damaged structure is exposed to wind and water, which can eventually introduce rot and mold. Firefighters may have broken windows or even cut holes in walls and ceilings to let heat and smoke escape the structure. A water damaged structure may rot more and will almost certainly start growing more mold (Mold growth starts about 48 hours after a flood).
Of course, exposing a weakened structure to the elements is never good: a burned-out house might collapse in a hurricane and strong winds might whip off a rotten warehouse roof.
We’re not saying that a structure will be safer directly after the event, but we are saying that there’s a good chance it will be more dangerous as time goes on.
Do you know what happens when your things burn? Are you familiar with some of the chemicals? Burnt home goods can release toxic chemicals into the air that you do not want to breathe. Similarly, some building materials are infused with toxic chemicals that are extremely bad for your health when they burn. Manufacturing plants or business that have stored chemicals may require a hazardous material team to clean up before anything can be recovered.
As noted above, mold is a particular problem in flood disasters. Mold growth occurs very quickly and the mold spores that are dispersed into the air are extremely toxic.
Mold growth can also be a problem after a fire! If firefighters used water to put out a fire, you’ll need to have your property dried out to prevent mold. Soot, Ash, and Dirty Water
Soot, ash, and dirty water can all be hazardous to your health. Soot, ash, and other burnt debris might contain toxic chemicals. Water might harbor unsafe bacteria and other pathogens that will make you sick.
We can help you clean up all of the above so that you can reenter your home or business without being exposed to unsafe structures, dangerous chemicals, or sickness-causing bacteria.