What to do when your home floods

Foolded Homes This is a picture I took on Alcott street on South Austin November 2001. The day before, 16 inches of rain had dumped on South Austin. The tenant in the duplex I managed on this street called and told me his car had floated down the street and that there was 4 feet of water inside the property. This picture shows the scene the next day, as owners and tenants were pulling everything out of the homes and getting the recovery process started.

Yesterday, one of my tenants in Oak Hill called and said “Steve, I just got home and the entire house is flooded. There was water squirting from behind the commode and I turned it off, but the entire house is flooded and there is water running out the back door.”

I headed straight over, calling my carpet people on the way. 3 hours later it was all dried up, fans were running in all the bedrooms blowing air underneath the carpets. Luckily, we got to this one fast enough that we will probably have it all put back together today. The plumber has already been by to replace what turned out to be a cracked supply line. Also, I’m lucky that this is a one-story home with hard tile everywhere except for the 4 bedrooms, so there isn’t a lot of carpet to deal with. Before we button it back up, we’ll test all the baseboards and walls for moisture to make sure the water didn’t start wicking up into the sheetrock where it could cause mold if untreated. I don’t think the water got that high, so we should be ok on this one.

So, as a landlord or property owner, what do you do when your home floods?
It’s really quite simple, you call a water extraction expert immediately. Since you’re well prepared, you already have that phone number programmed into your cell phone, because you knew this would happen someday. This isn’t the time to be hunting through the yellow pages and shopping for the best deal.

Instead, you need to get someone over there to dry it up immediately. It needs to be a company who is insured, knows what they are doing, and has a big enough crew of vans spread out across town that they can get someone there quickly. In my case, I called Service Depot, which is a water extraction and carpet cleaning company I’ve used in Austin for many years. They are not cheap, and they had my problem solved in less than 3 hours.

So, as investment property owners, do we fret and become depressed over an event like this? Do I worry about what this is going to cost me? No. This is part of owning rental property. This stuff happens. If you can’t handle it, don’t invest in real estate.

Personally, I’m happy that it wasn’t worse. I’m in a good mood today, and that flood event doesn’t bother me at all. I had a commode flood both floors of a two story home once. That house had 2500 square feet of carpet. The tenants were out of town when it happened, and I got the call from a neighbor telling me that water was running down the driveway of the house. That one could not have been worse due to the delay in discovering the flood and it being both stories with a lot of wet carpet.

This one yesterday was a piece of cake compared to that. So, when something like this happens, I count my blessings instead of fretting over it. Even if it had been worse, I’d be happy that it doesn’t happen more often. That’s the mindset required if you’re going to survive as a landlord and rental property owner. Cheerful optimism in place of doom and gloom.

1 thought on “What to do when your home floods”

  1. Steve,
    You’re absolutely correct. Staying calm and acting quickly and decisively are essential to proper mitigation of an emergency water loss. Water can be a very destructive force. Immediate response can help minimize the secondary damage to the buildings structure and its contents. I’ve managed flood projects ranging from the small AC pan leaks to the multi-story, ceiling-collapsing monsters and one can have just as serious an effect on the structure as the other if not handled properly. Good tips.
    Travis Benedict
    Service Depot
    Territory Manager and Partner

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