Article 1: Black water (Category 3) clean-up in Melbourne
Flooding in your home can come about for a variety of reasons. Maybe your dishwasher or washing machine broke, a pipe burst, or maybe there’s been too much rain. No matter the source of the water, there are steps you must take to protect your family, save your home, and prevent health hazards.
There are three different types of water that you may deal with when you have a flooding issue in your home. In this article, we’ll explore how to clean up if your home is flooded with category 3 water.
- Clean water (category 1) might come from rain or leaky pipes and doesn’t have harmful bacteria growing in it.
- Grey water (category 2) comes from sources like your dishwasher or washing machine and may be slightly contaminated.
- Blackwater (category 3) can come from sewers or flooding from a nearby body of water.
Blackwater, or category 3 water, is heavily contaminated and unsanitary. It could contain harmful bacteria, fungi, pesticides, heavy metal or other toxic substances. Exposure to Category 3 water can cause severe discomfort or sickness. We don’t recommend you try to clean up black water on your own!
Whenever your home is damaged by water it’s important to clean up properly to prevent secondary damage and sickness from damp and mould. This is even more important when you’re dealing with black water.
What do I do if black water floods my home?
- If black water enters your home the first thing you should do is get your family and pets to safety. It may be appropriate to initiate your family’s emergency management plan.
- Once everyone is out of the house and safe, stop the source of the water entering the home if possible and safe to do so.
- If it seems to be a big problem impacting multiple properties, emergency services should be notified.
- If it’s isolated to your property, report it to your water company and local council. If you rent, make sure you let the landlord know. Call the State Emergency Service if you need support to secure your home.
- Contact your insurance company to let them know what has happened and confirm what your responsibilities include.
- Now is also a good time to call in some professionals to help you assess and manage the situation.
What should I do when I go back into my home?
- When it is safe for you to enter the house, document everything. Although the first thing on your mind is cleaning up the mess you need to take photos and videos (using your phone is fine!) to capture all aspects of the damage.
- The water that’s flooding your home may include sewage or other hazardous material, so make sure you don’t touch it! Before going in, suit up with appropriate protective gear, such as waders and waterproof boots.
- Cleaning up after a flood is a long and difficult job. You need to remove the water, salvage any personal items you can, dry the space out properly, and disinfect any areas or objects the water touched.
- Again, those undertaking the clean-up need to wear proper safety gear to avoid contact with harmful substances in the water. Avoid wading unprotected even in shallow water.
- In a situation where the home has been contaminated by black water, steps need to be taken to be sure that water removed from your property doesn’t then contaminate other properties or waterways.
Tips for cleaning up black water
If the water contamination was minor and you’d like to manage the clean-up on your own, here are some tips:
- We can’t emphasize this enough – wear protective clothing such as heavy-duty rubber gloves, waders, high rubber boots, and eye protection.
- Make sure children and pets are kept out of the affected area until the clean-up has been completed.
- Make sure there are no electrical hazards. Switch off the power at the switchboard. If you’re unsure, consult an electrician.
- Sweep out water. Make sure when it’s removed it doesn’t impact other properties or nearby waterways. If you think the water may impact others, consult your water company or local council for advice.
- Throw away contaminated household materials that can’t be effectively cleaned or disinfected. This includes carpet, upholstered furniture, and mattresses.
- Remove and throw away plasterboard and insulation that has been contaminated. Consult a builder if you’re not sure how to do this or you’re concerned about the structural integrity of your home.
- Clean and disinfect all contaminated areas. Rinse them off, then clean and disinfect them again using a different cleaning agent. Cleaning agent options include detergent, chlorine or bleach.
- Make sure you scrub every surface of floors and walls.
- Pay special attention to cooking utensils and work surfaces.
- Make sure you disinfect cleaning mops, brooms, and brushes at the end of each cleaning session. A bleach-based cleaning solution is recommended.
- Make sure you clean and dry your dirty boots, waders, and gloves and wash your clothes in hot water and soap separately from uncontaminated items at the end of each cleaning session.
- Adequate ventilation will help the drying process. Use fans, air conditioning, and dehumidifiers.
- Throw out all food and food containers that have been in contact with the water. If you’re not sure whether an item is safe, throw it out.
- Any cuts, grazes or wounds need to be treated immediately. Disinfect the wounded area and cover with a waterproof dressing. Keep wounds clean by washing well with soap and clean water at the end of each cleaning session.
- Remember that mould or mildew may develop if items are not completely dried.
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water after completing the clean-up, and wash your protective gear and clothing as described above.
How can we help you?
If you call us when you find black water in your home we’ll take you through the steps mentioned above. We’ll remove the water, help you salvage your personal items, thoroughly dry the home and make sure it’s properly treated to remove harmful bacteria and stop mould growing.
We’ll take the stress out of the situation, complete the job to a high standard, deliver superior service levels and work with you to return your property to its prior standard.