AgCenter offers tips to restore a flooded home to a better home
If your house has been flooded, the huge work, expense, and stress that ensues can mean a daunting time ahead. But it is possible to find a silver lining. Claudette Hanks Reichel, LSU AgCenter Housing Specialist, said if you restore longer than before, you can return to a better home – a stronger, more comfortable and healthy home that you can enjoy with peace of mind.
“Take control of your future by making your home more resilient before the next flood or hurricane,” said Reichel. “When replacing damaged materials and equipment, upgrading to a flood-resistant restoration is a great investment, even if your insurance doesn’t cover the additional costs. “
Making your home flood proof and resilient means you can clean up and reinstall quickly, with minimal tearing, replacement, and cost.
“It’s not an all or nothing approach,” she said.
Reichel recommends one of the following measures to reduce future flood damage, health risks and resulting expense.
Prevention of backflow
Have a licensed plumber install sewage check valves in the drain line to protect your home and health. Even minor flash floods nearby can cause sewage backflow.
Damage resistant materials
Restore with replacement flood-resistant materials, which also tend to be less vulnerable to mold. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has published tables of flood-resistant materials on www.fema.gov.
Flooring: (Note: The types of flooring that allow the slab or sub-floor to dry are the most beneficial.)
Decorative concrete (coating or stain), terrazzo, stone, brick.
Porcelain or ceramic tiles (unglazed tiles and unsealed mortar may offer greater drying capacity).
Interlocking solid vinyl tiles that do not need adhesive (can be easily removed to allow the tile to dry, then reinstalled).
Solid vinyl or inlaid sheet vinyl tiles without paper backing.
Solid hardwood planks installed to allow easy removal of some or all planks (with water-based polyurethane or other vapor permeable finish).
Exterior grade plywood subfloor (may swell but may dry out and recover).
In flood-prone areas, sufficient flood vents within 1 foot of the ground are required in raised homes to prevent failures due to pressure from rising flood waters. Search “Requirements for Flood Openings in Foundation Walls” on the FEMA website at www.fema.gov.
In this hot and humid climate, insulate raised floors with closed cell spray foam insulation between joists under the sub-floor or with rigid closed cell foam panels across the floor joists, sealed and hermetically sealed. These methods avoid the sub-floor moisture problems common in air-conditioned homes. Look for the article titled “Insulating Raised Floors in a Hot, Humid Climate” at www.lsuagcenter.com.
Move all ductwork and equipment out of the crawl space and above the risk of flooding.
When possible, the best solution is to raise the whole house above the risk of flooding. Check with your local government’s emergency management office and flood insurance policy for potential sources of financial assistance.
Interior Wall Finishes: Paperless Gypsum Drywall (Matte Face Fiberglass); removable paneling and baseboards. (Note: Finish with latex paint and NEVER use vinyl wallpaper as it can trap moisture in walls and lead to hidden mold growth.)
Insulation: Closed cell spray foam or rigid closed cell foam panels do not absorb water; mineral fiber insulation boards exterior cladding can recover if installed to drain and dry.
Exterior coating: Brick veneer; fiber cement, vinyl, aluminum, some moisture resistant composite siding and trim. Be sure to provide a drainage space between the siding and the siding.
Openings: Metal or fiberglass doors with closed cell foam insulation inside; windows with aluminum, fiberglass or vinyl frames. (Note: Some have metal parts that may rust or insulated glass spacers that may leak.)
Elevate appliances, equipment, outlets and switches above the potential flood level. Place water heaters and air conditioning compressors on sturdy platforms. Wall ovens and front-loading laundry equipment on platforms can protect them from shallow flooding.
If you see new or enlarged slab cracks or diagonal cracks in the walls of your home, hire a qualified professional to assess and repair. Look for an engineering system and installation company with a solid track record of success.
If you have gutted walls, consider switching to a “washable, drainable and dryable wall” assembly:
Partially fill wall cavities with closed cell spray foam insulation or rigid foam board cut to fit; or insulate the walls with only a rigid foam exterior sheathing and leave the wall cavity empty. Leave an empty space in the wall to allow for rinsing, drainage and drying.
Install paperless drywall with gaps or joints between the panels to block the bit through the panels.
Leave spaces at the top and bottom, covered with a trim that can be removed after a flood to allow the wall cavities to be rinsed with a cleaner and then a disinfectant rinse, drained and ventilated for drying (with air dehumidified for faster drying).
Learn more about building and restoring resilient, high performance homes by visiting the LSU AgCenter LaHouse Resource Center website at www.lsuagcenter.com/LaHouse and visit the Flood Recovery page with FAQs : After gutting your flooded house. The LaHouse Resource Center, on the LSU campus, is an educational showcase of solutions for the climate and natural hazards of the Gulf region. Also see tour videos, the building system, and home improvement videos on LaHouse’s YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/myLaHouse).