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10 Tips for Bringing Historic Properties Back From a Flood

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These 10 tips will help your historic property recover from flood damage.

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10 Tips for Bringing Historic Properties Back From a Flood

  1. 1. 10 Tips for BRINGING HISTORIC PROPERTIES BACK FROM A FLOOD
  2. 2. 1. Document the damage. 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.
  3. 3. 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.
  4. 4. 3. Ventilate! 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.
  5. 5. 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.
  6. 6. 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.
  7. 7. 6. Keep an eye on cracks in the foundation. Movement, particularly widening of cracks, is a sign of structural instability warranting careful examination by a qualified structural engineer or architect.
  8. 8. 7. Remove saturated insulation. 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.
  9. 9. 8. Let the efflorescence take 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.
  10. 10. 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.
  11. 11. 10. Let wood floors, trim, and doors dry thoroughly. 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.
  12. 12. 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

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