Flooded Homes: Drying Everything Out After a Flood

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Published by U.S. EPA on September 16, 2021.

“This video provides information and instruction on how to dry out a flooded home before replacing floors and walls. Materials need to be completely dry with a moisture content of 15% before they can be covered or painted. Indoor humidity levels should be kept between 30-60% if possible. Higher humidity levels may delay drying time.

“For more information about flood cleanup visit: https://www.epa.gov/flooded-homes.” – U.S. EPA

Dry Out After a Flood


“Before replacing and refinishing walls and flooring, everything in the home needs to be completely dry.

“This is to prevent future mold growth and keep materials from losing their structural integrity.

“You may need to remove cabinets or built-in furniture to ensure all items get completely dried.

“The humidity level impacts the drying time.

“Indoor humidity levels should be between 30-60%.

“Drying time may vary from several days to 6 weeks based on the humidity and air flow levels.

“If your electricity has not been damaged in the storm or it has been inspected and is safe to turn back on, use fans or dehumidifiers to dry out the house.

“Do not use fans if you can still see mold, because the fans may spread it.

“If your HVAC system is working and is not contaminated from flood water, it may help with the drying process.

“However, you will likely need to use fans, dehumidifiers, or heaters, too.

“Most HVAC systems do not have the capacity to control high humidity conditions after a flood.

“You can also use a portable generator to power fans and dehumidifiers.

“Be sure to keep the portable generator outside and at least 20 feet from the home to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.

“If you do not have electricity or a portable generator, keep the air circulating by opening doors and windows.

“Materials may retain water, even when dry to the touch.

“To determine if walls, cabinets, and flooring are dry and ready for refinishing, use a moisture meter to read the water content of the materials.

“A moisture meter can usually be found at a hardware store.

“When using a moisture meter for materials like wood framing and drywall, place the meter on the object and wait for the meter to determine the moisture content.

“Materials should read 15% or less to be ready for refinishing.

“If they are above that level, more drying time is needed.

“To determine if concrete has dried completely, tape a sheet of clear plastic over the slab for 16 hours to see if moisture collects on the plastic.

“Continue drying until moisture does not collect on the plastic sheet before replacing flooring.

“Wait to seal or paint any area until the materials are completely dry.

“If you still see or smell mold or have health problems like asthma or allergies that get worse, more work is needed to completely clean and dry the materials.

“After the cleanup, there should be no signs of water damage or mold growth.

“If you are unsure, you may need to consult a mold remediation professional.

“For more information about disaster cleanup, visit our website at epa.gov/flooded-homes.”

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