Cleaning up after the storms in Costa Blanca

Cleaning up after the Storms in Costa Blanca Credit: Shutterstock

Unfortunately, our readers across the Costa Blanca will have to start this week to deal with their flood damaged homes, so, we here at the Euro Weekly news contacted cleaning experts to obtain some useful tips that may assist at this daunting time.

Murky waters from burst river banks will contain many contaminants and lots of mud and cleaning up is a long hard process. Here are some useful tips for our readers and we hope it assists in some way.

Firstly, hopefully you are insured against the destruction your property has received, but the first step is to read through your policy to ensure you have a clear idea of what and what you are not insured for. Once you are clear, call your insurance agent to confirm and they will advise you of next steps.

Whilst awaiting the insurance company to come and inspect your home, ensure that you photograph all damage and list it in a simple file. As long as you have listed all of the damaged goods and property both your insurance agent and loss adjuster will steer you through the process for making the relevant claims.

As the floods were severe and river water filled with mud will have contaminated your home, shovel as much mud as possible out of the premises and after you have removed as much mud as possible, jet hose away the mud from hard surfaces. Many folk who don’t own a jet hose can also use their normal garden hose.

This is very important as this is not just mud, river flood mud can contain nasty bacteria which can cause a variety of health concerns and for this reason it is wise to cover your nose and mouth whilst you clear the mud. Also ensure any cuts you may have however small are fully covered.

Health authorities warn residents to be careful when cleaning flood-affected buildings. They advised people not to walk through dirty water, clean wounds after being in the water and wear protective clothing such as boots and gloves.

Dr Rupert Hayman this morning advised the Euro Weekly News “Depending on where it gets in it changes the symptoms,” and then he went on to further add ““initially we see acute presentation of pneumonia and septicaemia and later we see some more severe infections through cuts and it will get into the body.” Although finally stating prevention is better than the cure and if you take all the above steps you will be fine”

The next step will be addressing your furniture, today Euro Weekly News contacted David Carter a furniture expert for advice, David kindly explained; “Take furniture, rugs, bedding and clothing outside to dry as soon as possible. Use an air conditioner or dehumidifier to remove moisture or open at least two windows to ventilate with outdoor air. Use fans to circulate air in the house. If mould and mildew have already developed, brush off items outdoors to prevent scattering spores in the house. Vacuum floors, ceilings and walls to remove mildew, then wash with disinfectant.

Clean and dry carpets and rugs as quickly as possible. If sewage-contaminated floodwater covered your carpeting, discard it for health safety reasons. Also discard if the carpet was under water for 24 hours or more. To clean, drape carpets and rugs outdoors and hose them down. Work a disinfecting carpet cleaner into soiled spots with a broom. To discourage mildew and odours, rinse with a solution of 2 tablespoons bleach to 1 gallon water, but don’t use this solution on wool or nylon carpets. Dry the carpet and floor thoroughly before replacing the carpet. Padding is nearly impossible to clean so should be replaced. If the carpet can’t be removed, dry it as quickly as possible using a wet/dry vacuum and dehumidifier. Use a fan to circulate air above the carpet, and if possible, lift the carpet and ventilate with fans underneath.

Mattresses should be thrown away. Never try to salvage a mattress. Upholstered furniture soaks up contaminants from floodwaters and should be cleaned only by a professional if salvageable. Wood veneered furniture is usually not worth the cost and effort of repair and will need disposing of. Solid wood furniture can usually be restored, unless water damage is severe. Place your units in open air where a drying out process can take place, don’t try opening any drawers as the real wood timbers will have swollen,  you could break them by forcing, allow the timbers to dry out and retract over a period of time.”

“One of the most emotional losses in a flood strewn home can be the items will sentimental value such as photographs, books and important papers. They should be dried carefully and slowly. Wash the mud off and store the articles in plastic bags and put them in a frost-free freezer to protect from mildew and further damage until you have time to thaw and clean them or take them to a professional” explained Frank Diamantie a professional book restorer who we contacted.

When your home has now been emptied of the mud, furniture removed and saved personal possessions stored away, the next task will be the walls and ceilings. We contacted British builder Mike Walsey from Orba Alicante for advice Mike explained “Wallboard acts like a sponge when wet. Remove wallboard, plaster and panelling to at least the flood level. If soaked by contaminated floodwater, it can be a permanent health hazard and should be removed. If most of the wallboard was soaked by clean rainwater, consider cutting a 4- to 12-inch-high section from the bottom and top of walls. This creates a “chimney effect” of air movement for faster drying. A reciprocating saw with a metal cutting blade works well, but use only the tip of the blade and watch out for pipes, ductwork and wiring. Plaster and panelling can often be saved, but air must be circulated in the wall cavities to dry the studs and sills.

The three kinds of insulation must be treated differently. Styrofoam might only need to be hosed off. Fiberglass batts should be thrown out if muddy but may be reused if dried thoroughly. Loose or blown-in cellulose should be replaced since it holds water for a long time and can lose its antifungal and fire retardant abilities” 

Hopefully you have shut down any effected electrical systems if you haven’t then shut them down straight away. We spoke with electrician Alan Tucker for advice and he advised “The system must be shut off and repaired and inspected by an electrician before it can be turned back on. Wiring must be completely dried out- even behind walls. Switches, convenience outlets, light outlets, entrance panel, and junction boxes that have been under water may be filled with mud. Heating and cooling systems and ducts will need inspection and cleaning. Flood-soaked insulation should be replaced.

As for your electrical appliances they may have stains, odours, silt and gritty deposits and need to be serviced, cleaned and sanitized. Running equipment before it is properly cleaned could seriously damage it and could lead to an electrical shock. Professional cleaning is recommended for electronics, TVs and radios, washing machines, dryers, dishwashers, and vacuum cleaners. The hard exterior can be hand cleaned. All metallic appliances that have been flooded should be properly grounded to prevent electric shock. Mud or dirt in a grounded outlet or adapter may prevent the grounding system from working, and you could be electrocuted so be very careful when it comes to electrical appliances.

We thank all of the advice given by the experts that we called today on behalf of our readers and hope it assists you in some little way. Good luck and we are all thinking about you here at the Euro Weekly News.

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