Along with the rest of the UK, LWK Kitchens were upset to hear of the destruction to lives and homes caused by recent adverse weather conditions, with a small number of our team (myself included) also personally affected. Whilst the UK lives in hope of sunshine and an end to the damaging storms, flood warnings are unfortunately still in place and Weather Forecasters are predicting more wet and windy weather from next week onwards.
In the event of this happening, we have put together some advice and recommendations for what to do if you experience the onset of water infiltration into your home to help prevent, or at least reduce, flood damage to your home and kitchen. We have also included some advice on what to do in the aftermath of any water and flood damage; Hopefully this will prove helpful, though we suggest visiting one or more of the ‘Useful Contacts’ we have included at the end of this article for more detailed instruction or personal assistance.
How to effect flood damage limitation for homes and kitchens at risk of imminent flooding:-
- Isolate electrical sockets
First and foremost, if you notice or expect water to enter your home, switch off the power (water, gas and electricity) from your consumer unit or fuse box. For obvious reasons water and electricity do not mix and you must ensure your safety before that of any of your personal effects so Do not touch any power sources if standing in water! Aside from electric shock, switching off water, gas and electricity supplies can help reduce the risk of fire.
- Disconnect appliances that use water
Water can cause electrical kitchen appliances to short-circuit so elevating them (where possible) is the best option for avoiding this. If you cannot move appliances from the kitchen, then raise heavy goods such as fridges or washing machines onto bricks (for short-term periods only). You should also disconnect all appliances that use water such as your dishwasher or washing machine, as any pipe connections can move during flooding and risk further damage if still attached.
- Remove kitchen plinth
As kitchen plinth is located at a low level, it is one of the most likely components of your kitchen to be damaged in the case of water penetration. However kitchen plinth is also easily detachable so you can preserve your kitchen finish by unclipping this and storing it above wall units or on an upper floor, until the risk has passed. Plinth is made of wood; this can be permeable and especially if saturated during a flood to the home. An excess of water can cause irreversible swelling and warping in wood, so it will never regain its original form.
- Remove bottom drawers and door fronts
Similar to kitchen plinth, low-level kitchen drawers and their contents risk flood damage so it is better to remove them and store elsewhere until the risk has passed. The type of door hinges you have in place affects how easy it is to do so but you can also try unclipping and storing your kitchen door fronts.
- Empty all kitchen cupboards and drawers
In the expectation of home flooding, empty all low-level kitchen drawers and cupboards particularly if they hold any food, medicines or first aid kit required.
Sharp objects such as knifes should be safely stored elsewhere as flooding can dislodge items that later prove dangerous when it comes to the clear up. Depending on the severity of the flood you may be able to use drawer contents such as pots, pans and dustbins in which to collect water.
- Weigh down all kitchen and bathroom sink plugs
Insert your kitchen and bathroom sink plugs and weigh them down with heavy, non-electrical items to prevent water entering your home through this access point and causing further flood damage.
Action for Homeowners following flood damage
- Contact your insurance company promptly
Alert your home insurer at the earliest opportunity to notify them of what has happened, or else local authority if you have no insurance. Find out if they will organise for professional cleaners to manage the damage. A loss adjustor, and if required risk assessor, will visit you to assess the flood damage and advise what you should, and shouldn’t do, as well as fully explain the processes to follow. It is a good idea to list damages and take photographs before and during the clean up process which will support any impending claim.If your kitchen is damaged you may also want to contact your original kitchen supplier and establish whether any components needing replaced are still available, particularly if you have had your kitchen for a long time.
- Contact your gas, electricity and water companies
Do not turn on your gas or central heating until an engineer has checked it and confirmed it is safe to do so. Similarly, do not turn on any electrical appliances that have come into contact with water until they have been checked by a professional engineer. Appliances may be normal in appearance but this does not guarantee water has not entered different systems.
- Lift and dispose of soiled carpets/ wood flooring
Ideally, soiled carpets and wood should be lifted and disposed of. Flood water often contains sewage, chemicals and other filth so for health reasons these items should be removed and destroyed as soon as possible.
Fully clean kitchen surfaces and units
All surfaces will need cleaning and disinfecting following a flood and whether it is yourself or professionals undertaking the task, ensure this includes enclosed spaces beneath units, such as where your plinth was removed, and under floorboards. Wear gloves throughout cleaning and ensure you wash your hands following any contact with flood water.
- Wash and run kitchen and bathroom taps before use
In case of contamination wash your kitchen taps and let them run for a few minutes before use. If you are concerned your mains tap has been contaminated during the flooding contact your local water company.
- Flood clean-up: Pumps, dryers and dehumidifiers
As mentioned, flood water is often unsanitary if area sewers were overwhelmed.
However if you feel it is safe to do so in the aftermath of flooding then pumps, dryers and dehumidifiers will help clear up the excess of water. A pump and generator can be cited outside the home once flood levels are lower outside than in. Until then, dehumidifiers are effective and it is surprising how much water even a small dehumidifier can remove. External doors and windows be closed when such tools are in use.
Useful Contacts For anyone affected by flood damage or wanting to take preventative measures:-
- Environment Agency
- Floodline 0345 988 1188
- Association of British Insurers
- National Flood Forum
- Chartered Institute of Loss Adjusters
- The Met Office
- Electrical Safety Council
- Advice for Finding an electrician