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How to Rehab Flooded Houses – a Checklist


A checklist for rehabbing flood houses


How to rehab flood houses (notes on a rehab)


We’re going to address flood houses, how they are rehabbed and what has to be done to them.



Burn house and flood house rehabs have a lot in common


  • Both types of wrecked houses are quite abnormally damaged.
  • They require special skills and crafts to return them to habitability.
  • They both begin with a big clean out of the house.
  • Then have to be rebuilt into the existing undamaged areas.
  • The rebuilt areas also need to match with the other areas of the house.
  • Both types of rehabs are very labor and cash intensive.
  • They stink when you get ‘em, they could still stink when you sell ‘em.



Due to these problems, neither type of rehab properties are recommended


  • Neither types of rehab properties are recommended by me for investors.
  • If you must do them however, then start with these initial considerations.
  • Get proper lab testing of mold samples for Stachybotrys Chartarum (toxic mold).
  • I just hate to scare someone away from his or her dream project, but you have to be very careful with these properties.
  • You can get burned on a flood house just as easily as a a burn house, or burn out.



Getting started on rehabbing the flood house


Now for the work – depending on how long the water was there and how deep it got, some, or all of the following will need to be done.


The Trash Out


  • Everything that got wet has to go; furniture, clothes, drapes personal belongings.
  • Every bit of fabric and wood items have to go.
  • Appliances, books, record collections all of it.


The Tear Out


Removing all drywall below the flood line.

Example of a rehab dry wall tear out up to the flood line.


  • Sheetrock – how far up the Sheetrock has to be removed will depend on how high the water level got.
  • Insulation – all the insulation that’s behind the Sheetrock needs to be removed.
  • Carpet and padding – have all got to be removed. some vinyl and squares will float.
  • Wood floors – have to be relieved, can push the walls off of the slab and hump.
  • Cabinets and vanities– got to go – sleepers and Sheetrock access.
  • Doors – will warp, expand and de-laminate from the water. Solid doors may be ok.
  • Wood floors – it is crucial to open them immediately, and then remove them.


The Clean Out


You’ll need lots of soap and water, shovels and brooms, to clean out everything, especially any signs of mold.
Biocides such as, 10–25% Clorox to water – should be used to scrub everything, get a commercial product from janitorial supply.


The Dry Out


Drying a flood house with commercial dehumidifiers

Flood houses are sometimes dried out with commercial dehumidifiers before mold sets in.


  • Slab is wet – it will need some time to dry out.
  • The framing – throughout the house that you’ve scrubbed for mold, will also need time to dry out.
  • Drying takes time – even with big fans and relatively low humidity.


If the electrical was flooded


  • If water flooded over receptacles – you’ll need to change them all out, as corrosion will set in.
  • If water flooded over the service panel – call a licensed electrician for an evaluation.
  • If water got over the light fixtures – go to my opening remarks – well, then you shouldn’t be there anyway.
  • Pier and beam electrical under the house – an electrician must crawl and inspect for damage.
  • Corroded connectors – connections that are corroded will need to be replaced, as conductors become unreliable over time and can cause fire.

If the foundation was flood damaged


  • Slabs – may have shifted, check the levels for signs of foundation damage.
  • Pier and beam – check for ponding under the house, piers may have shifted and need leveling.
  • Check both types of foundations for adequate drainage.


If the HVAC flooded


  • Condenser must be checked by licensed HVAC man.
  • HVAC – water damage can include any part of the system that flooded, could be to wiring, capacitors, fan motors, etc.
  • In rare cases that an electric furnace was outside, it will probably have to be replaced.
  • Ductwork – may be damaged, or moldy and need to be replaced. Check for slime in the ice machine.


The flooded walls


Tear out all drywall that was exposed to water

All flood house drywall that was exposed to water must be removed.


  • Sheetrock comes out in 2’ increments.
  • All walls come out.
  • Paneling – you might be able to open just one side to dry, if no Sheetrock is behind it.
  • Insulation wicks water up inside the wall above the flood line, you’ll need to cut out till you hit the dry spot.
  • Biocide 10 – 25% Clorox and water, commercial product from janitorial supply.
  • Be thorough in your cleaning – remember floods distribute sewage and toxins too.
  • Constant circulation – weeks, not days – fans moving air in and out.
  • Brickwork – dries out at 1” per month.
  • Don’t use the fireplace for 2 – 3 months, it may crack the water soaked bricks and mortar.


Flooded trim and baseboards


  • It all has to come off, at least to replace the drywall, or paneling – some can be salvaged, keep it in the room if you can.
  • Label where it came from if you plan to re-use it.
  • Doors de-laminate and must be repaired, or discarded.
  • Doors hold water and may not explode until they start to dry out.


Flooded doors


  • Solid doors should be OK and just need to dry out.
  • Some metal doors will probably rust, depending on how long they were submerged.
  • Solid core laminate doors will begin to delaminate & will have to be replaced.
  • Hollow core doors will begin to disintegrate and expand; they are also places for mold.
  • Hollow core doors can hold water and not explode until they start to dry out.
  • Damaged doors (if possible) must be repaired, or else just discarded.

Flooded appliances


  • Gas fired appliances will have corrosion.
  • Gas ignition and combustion devices are probably corroded.
  • The connections and relays on dryers and washing machines, dishwashers, etc are probably ruined.
  • When you’re done checking all that, throw the appliances out. In other words, flooded appliances are a loss and can be discarded.


Flooded wood floors


  • Types of wood floors, will affect the small possibility of flooded wood floors being salvaged, it will depend on the type & how they are built.
  • Water between the screeds of flooded floors is also a problem for mold and odors later on.
  • Expansion due to swelling can blow the walls off the slab.
  • Of course moisture in a wood floor is always an invitation to termites.


Flooded windows


  • Double glazed windows may lose their seal and develop clouds.
  • The sash may stick if wood windows have been flooded.
  • Locks and slides on aluminum windows may tarnish, or corrode, may be cleanable with a little steel wool and WD-40.

If the well and septic flooded


  • Well water should not be used before checking with the county sanitarian about risks, or possible testing.
  • In ground septic tanks may need to be pumped and checked for percolation.



By Kevin Smith, with final editing and contributions by Joshua Berg

Article excerpts, contributions and edits have been made by Houses Fast editors. Statements and opinions expressed in articles, reviews and other materials herein are those of the authors; the editors and publishers.  While every care has been taken in the compilation of this information and every attempt made to present up-to-date and accurate information, we cannot guarantee that inaccuracies will not occur. Houses Fast, its writers and contributors, will not be held responsible for any claim, loss, damage or inconvenience caused as a result of any information within these pages or any information accessed through this site.


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