Nothing is more dread-inducing than coming home after a long weekend away to discover that your child left a tap running all weekend.
It’s almost as bad as finding out the toilet is clogged after you flush and watching the water lift up over the lid onto the floor.
Long story short, a bathroom flood is a disaster.
At ServiceMaster of Lake Shore in Chicago, we regularly restore water damage in homes, so we put together this guide on what to do if your bathroom has flooded.
Let’s dive in.
Why Did My Bathroom Flood?
There are plenty of reasons why a bathroom floods.
Once you know why the flood happened, you can fix the problem and prevent it from happening again.
Here are some of the most common reasons why bathrooms flood:
- Clogged pipes or drains
- Plumbing malfunctions
- Broken or burst pipes
- Carelessness (e.g. tossing feminine products into the toilet)
Sometimes it’s obvious – there’s a Barbie doll wedged in the toilet. Or maybe there was a tap left on, causing running water to spill out onto your bathroom floor.
Other times, you need a professional to figure out what’s wrong with your pipes and whether it’s a simple fix. Either way, once you discover the cause, you can clean up and prevent floods in the future.
How to Clean up a Flood in Your Bathroom: 10 Pro Steps
When you discover a bathroom flood, the first instinct might be to panic. Facing a disaster like a flooded bathroom can be overwhelming.
Thankfully, by following these steps, your bathroom will be looking good as new in no time.
1. Stop The Water
The first and most crucial step to saving your bathroom is stopping the water source. As long as there’s still water running to your bathroom, it will continue flooding!
Shut off the main water valve that services the entire home. This method is the quickest option when you are unsure why your bathroom is flooding.
You don’t have to turn off the water main to your whole house if one localized area is causing the entire bathroom to flood (e.g. faucet is running, or toilet is backing up). In that case, turn off the water at the source.
2. Shut Off Electricity
No matter how small the bathroom flood is, the next step is to turn off your electricity. This step is vital in keeping you and your loved ones safe. If electricity and water combine, it can be deadly.
Locate your circuit breakers, and turn them off until you’re sure everything’s dry. Use an oven mitt or towel when turning your breaker off to prevent accidental electrocution.
Even though house breakers have plastic protection, it’s always better to be safe in a flood situation.
Furthermore, never let children or pets into a flooded bathroom until you’re sure the water and electricity are off.
3. Protect Yourself
Before you turn to clean up a flooded bathroom, use protective equipment such as rubber gloves, eye protection, footwear, and other necessary gear.
This way, you will remain safe no matter what state the bathroom flood water is.
Personal safety is essential when dealing with bathroom floods that contain sewage overflow.
There is a high chance for the bathroom flood to cause skin irritations, health issues, or other harmful effects. Harsh chemicals and bacteria from human waste and cleaning products can mix with bathroom flood water.
4. Clear Standing Water
Standing water is excessive bathroom water that remains after shutting off the source.
It is the primary cause of mold and will quickly attract bugs and bacteria because it has nowhere to drain.
Depending on how deep your bathroom flood is, you can use buckets to get rid of standing water or soak up large puddles with towels or blankets.
Removing as much standing water as possible so the floor, adjacent walls, and other fixtures will help minimize damage to your bathroom.
In addition, cleaning out the standing water will also give you an idea of how severe your bathroom flooding problem is.
5. Circulate the Air
Proper air circulation will help dry out the bathroom space more effectively.
Open any windows and set up a fan to help move air around the bathroom and ensure you have a fresh air source rather than air with airborne particles or cleaning agents.
The toxins in the water and from cleaning supplies aren’t harmful in small doses but can be overwhelming when you’re in a room with them for extended periods.
When you circulate the air, you will minimize excess mold from forming on the bathroom floor and walls and you’ll stay healthy while you clean.
Wear a mask if possible. Don’t let small children in or near the bathroom while cleaning it.
6. Clear Your Cabinets
If you haven’t already, ensure that the bathroom cabinets are empty and that none of your toiletries or other belongings have water damage.
This task is especially vital if you have floor-level cabinets exposed to water on the bathroom floor.
Once you clear these cabinets, check for standing water inside them. This way, you can prevent mold and mildew damage.
7. Check the Rest of the House
Water has a way of leaking through walls and floorboards to affect other household areas.
If you have a large bathroom flood, you will need to examine other rooms and check the rest of the house for damage.
If there is a room below your bathroom, look at its ceiling and walls for signs of leaking water.
Bathroom floods can easily make their way through many levels of a home through cracks, air ducts, and even soaking through wood and drywall.
Remember, damage can be present even if it’s not visibly wet. You should check for sagging or peeling ceilings, tiny spots of water, or drywall sections that feel mushy.
8. Clean as Best You Can
If you’ve decided to call a professional, you can skip this step and wait for the experts.
But if you want to handle the cleanup yourself, you must follow the directions laid out by each chemical you use to clean as well as wear protective gear.
By using a strong disinfectant, such as bleach, you can clear up bacteria and prevent mold. Follow instructions on the packaging and never leave bleach or other strong chemicals unattended.
Be sure you use a shop vacuum that is designed to suck up liquids to make your task easier.
Never use a standard household vacuum cleaner since they are not designed to be used for removing water.
Once all the water has been removed and the bathroom is clean, leave any nearby windows open and use a fan to dry the area thoroughly.
Consider renting a dehumidifier to remove excess moisture from the walls and air and make the drying process faster.
9. Call Your Insurance
If you have home insurance, they may cover the costs of fixing your bathroom pipes, floors, and other damage.
Call them as soon as possible and get a claim number.
Remember to document the water damage and its cause, so you have all the necessary information for your insurance company.
10. Call a Water Damage Restoration Company
The final step after a bathroom floor should be to call a professional restoration company.
A bathroom flood can cause much more damage than you think, and it’s crucial to have someone address it quickly.
Professionals handle all of these steps or finish up and ensure that you will not have any further problems.
How to Prevent Mold After a Bathroom Flood
Mold is one of the biggest aftereffects of any home flood.
If an area stays wet for too long, mold spores can grow and release toxins and even compromise the structural integrity of your home.
To protect yourself and your family from mold-related illnesses, make sure that the entire area is completely dry.
Air it out well by keeping the windows open and allowing every part of the flooded room to dry out.
Unfortunately, some bathroom flooding circumstances require a professional.
If you have water under floorboards or inside the walls, mold is highly likely to form, especially in the bathroom, where it is warm and humid.
Although you can clean small patches of mold, you may be missing certain problem areas that you can’t see.
If you leave any spores behind, the mold will spread again. Without treatment, you’ll have to renovate your entire bathroom to get rid of it.
Instead of worrying if you missed something, call a professional water damage restoration company like ServiceMaster of Lake Shore. Our experts can ensure that all mold is dealt with before it becomes a problem.
Dealing With a Flooding Bathroom in Chicago? Let us Clean and Repair the Damage!
You don’t need to deal with bathroom flooding alone. Let the professionals at ServiceMaster of Lake Shore in Chicago restore, clean, and sanitize your bathroom after a flood.
Our trained and certified technicians take care of floods of all sizes. We can even work directly with your insurance and file a claim for you.