After a flood - clearing up
Find out how to remove mud and water after a flood and the precautions you need to take. This includes checking electrical appliances and wearing protective clothing.
Before you start
Before you start to clear up, you should:
- find out if it’s safe to return to your property
- speak to your insurance company to find out if they will organise for professional cleaners to clear up your home
If you have been evacuated because of flooding, you’ll be told it’s safe to return home by someone from either:
- the emergency services
- your insurance company
- your local council
- Department for Regional Development
- Northern Ireland Water
Check your electricity supply and electrical appliances
Before you start clearing up:
- check that the electricity supply has been switched off at the mains
- if you aren’t sure the electricity is turned off, get a qualified person to do this
- don’t touch sources of electricity while standing in floodwater
- get any electrical appliances that have come into contact with floodwater checked by a qualified electrician before using them again
Please use the link below to get information on finding an electrician:
Protecting yourself while cleaning up
Make sure you wear protective clothing when you clean up following a flood. Floodwater can be contaminated with sewage, chemicals and animal waste, so you’ll need to disinfect anything that comes into contact with it.
You should always:
- wear protective clothing, like a waterproof jacket and trousers and rubber gloves
- use a face mask
- wash your hands with disinfectant if you have been in contact with floodwater, mud or handled items that have been in contact with floodwater
- make sure any open cuts or wounds on exposed skin are covered by a waterproof plaster
Flood advice is available in the following links:
Looking after your health while cleaning up
Clearing up after a flood can be stressful and you can get ill from pollution or sewage in flood water. If you start to feel unwell contact your GP.
Getting rid of floodwater
Once the water levels are lower outside than inside your property, you can begin to get rid of the water by using a pump or bucket. You can hire or buy a pump and generator from a DIY shop. Make sure you put the generator outside to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning from the exhaust.
Cleaning surfaces in your home
You will need to do an initial clean and follow this by disinfecting all surfaces that have come into contact with the floodwater. You can clean surfaces that have come into contact with floodwater using a brush, hot water and a household cleaning fluid. Don't forget to clean enclosed spaces under kitchen units or floorboards. If the floodwaters have been contaminated with oil or diesel, you’ll need to use a detergent like washing up liquid. Once you have finished cleaning, use household disinfectant on everything that has come into contact with floodwater.
Contaminated clothing and bedding will need to be washed at a high temperature.
Drying out the building
Drying out can take weeks or months, depending on how serious the flooding has been and the type and thickness of the building materials. You can use your central heating to help dry out the house once the heating system has been checked by a qualified engineer. For best results the temperature should be set at 20 to 22 degrees centigrade.
You can speed up the drying process by keeping the building well ventilated by opening as many windows and doors as possible and using a fan. However, if you use a dehumidifier to remove water from the air in your home, you will need to keep external doors and windows shut.
Major redecoration or repair work
Get professional advice from a builder if you need to do any major redecoration or repair work on your home following a flood. Make sure you choose a builder recommended by your local council or insurance company. Follow the link below for step-by-step advice on how to choose a good builder.
Useful contact numbers
- Flooding Incident Line - 0300 2000 100
- Northern Ireland Electricity - 0845 7643 643
- Northern Ireland Water - 0845 7440 088
- Phoenix Natural Gas - 0845 9005 253
- Firmus Energy - 0845 6080 088