When you think of flood damage to your home, you may imagine floors caked with mud and ceilings covered in mold. While these are serious problems, your home could be facing an even bigger threat, and that's structural damage. A flood can damage your home's foundation and even affect its structural stability. Here's how a flood can affect your home and why it's important to get an inspection from a structural engineer before you begin the cleanup process.
How Water Damages Your Home's Foundation And Walls
Floodwaters that turn into raging rivers with fast-moving water are especially dangerous to your home because the force of the water can be enough to knock your home from its foundation. Your home could float away or collapse under such circumstances. Even if it stays in place, the walls can shift and make your home unsafe to stay in. Stationary water also causes problems because of the force it exerts on the walls and foundation of your home. The force can cause walls to bulge or buckle. Floodwater also affects the soil under your home. It can wash away or turn to mush. This causes your foundation to shift or the piers to become unstable.
Why Hiring A Structural Engineer Is Important
When there is damage to your home, it might not be safe to stay in or work in to begin restoration. The first step is to have your home inspected to determine the full extent of the damages. You can tell is something is amiss by noting if your windows and doors don't open freely or if your garage door isn't level when it closes. A roof ridge that slopes to one side is another sign of structural damage. An engineer can take precise measurements of the walls and other structures in your home to determine how much the house has shifted.
Also, the engineer can use his or her experience to assess the cracks and bowing walls to determine just how bad the damage is. If the damage is severe, your house could be in danger of collapse, especially once you start knocking out drywall and doing other forms of reconstruction after the flood. You may need to stay out of your home until structural repairs are made. These repairs need to be undertaken by experienced contractors and may involve bracing the walls or sinking new piers.
Although you'll be anxious to get back inside your home once the waters recede, you should use caution and wait until your home has been cleared by a structural engineer. Once your home has been deemed safe and your utilities are safely restored, then the cleanup can begin in earnest.