10 Tips for Bringing Historic Properties Back From a Flood
10 Tips for
BRINGING HISTORIC PROPERTIES
BACK FROM A FLOOD
1. Document the
Before starting your cleanup, take
careful notes about damage to
your home. This is essential not
only for insurance purposes, but
also to record important historic
features. Photograph any items
removed for cleaning or repair
purposes to help ensure that they
are reinstalled correctly.
2. Create an inventory of found items.
Flood waters can carry dislodged architectural features, decorative fragments, and
furnishings a great distance. Items found on your property may be extremely valuable
to a nearby restoration project.
The least damaging drying
process begins by using only
ventilation. The most effective
way to do this is to open windows
and doors so moisture escapes.
Fans can speed up evaporation
by moving interior air outdoors.
4. Clean the mud
while it’s still wet.
Rinse mud, dirt, and flood debris
with fresh water as soon as
possible—it’s safer and easier to
remove the mud while it’s still
wet. Avoid using high-pressure
water on historic materials and
exercise extreme care, so as not
to cause further damage.
5. Beware of a flooded basement.
Be careful when pumping water out of your basement. If the water level is high, and
you are reasonably sure your drains are working, groundwater levels may also be high
and pumping water out could result in either more water coming in or a foundation
collapse. It is generally advisable to wait for high water to recede on its own.
6. Keep an eye
on cracks in
widening of cracks, is a sign
of structural instability
examination by a qualified
structural engineer or
There are two reasons for
this: 1) Flooding renders
most insulation permanently
ineffective. 2) Saturated
insulation holds water
which, if left in place, can
perpetuate high moisture
conditions destructive to
wood, masonry, and steel.
8. Let the
care of itself.
The what? Efflorescence is the
unsightly white residue found on brick,
stone, or concrete walls. It comes from
impurities in the materials, but it is not
usually harmful and frequently
disappears naturally when it rains.
9. Check on your interior materials.
Drywall should almost always be replaced. Once it has gotten wet, it becomes
unstable and can be dangerous for residents. (FEMA recommends replacement
because contaminants may make drywall a permanent health hazard.) Plaster,
however, is more unpredictable and may survive without damage.
10. Let wood floors,
trim, and doors dry
Most wood expands and warps when
wet and then returns to its original
form as it dries. Waiting for woods to
dry can mean the difference between
just needing to sand down your
historic floors and replacing them.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America’s
historic places. Preservation Tips & Tools helps others do the same
in their own communities.
For more information, visit SavingPlaces.org.
Photos courtesy: Jim Champion/Flickr/CC BY-SA
2.0; U.S. Department of Agriculture/Flickr/CC BY-
ND 2.0; U.S. Geological Survey/Flickr/CC0 1.0;
Niels Epting/Flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0; Australian
Department of Defence/Flickr/CC BY-NC ND 2.0;
Louis/Flickr/CC BY-NC ND 2.0; Chris
Gehlen/Flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0; Mindy
Georges/Flickr/CC BY-NC 2.0;
meisbrenner/Flickr/CC BY-NC 2.0;
havoc/Flickr/CC BY-NC 2.0;
Freaktography/Flickr/CC BY-NC ND 2.0