Safeguard Europe looks at the scourge of flooding, and how best it can be managed in a property care context.
Flooding in the UK has been an increasingly visible problem over the last few years. The effect of flooding on unprepared buildings can be highly damaging to both the building itself and to surrounding infrastructure. When a building is flooded, the cost to the property owner is not only measured in time and money but often in the emotional toll taken.
After the flood
If an unprepared building has been flooded, it must first be established whether the structure of the building has been damaged and repairs carried out if necessary. Any contaminated materials must be properly treated with an appropriate biocide to kill off bacteria. Fixtures, fittings or items affected by the water must be sanitised, stripped and/or disposed of appropriately. The structure must also be sufficiently dry before restoration works begin.
Remediation and restoration
It is not enough to just simply replace stripped materials. Often, flood situations are not isolated incidents and are likely to happen again. The probability and potential severity of future floods, alongside the property owner’s available budget and the situation with the insuring company, can affect what form the restoration works take.
Flood resistance (keeping water out)
The aim of flood resistance strategies is to keep water from entering the building, hereafter referred to as a ‘water out’ strategy. This can be achieved through the use of physical flood barriers, flood-resistant exterior coatings, such as Stormdry FD-Coat Flood Defence Barrier, or internally applied tanking slurries, such as Drybase Tanking Slurry.
The advantage of water-out strategy is that internal items and materials are safe from damage. The problem is that complete resistance is not always possible to achieve. Regulations also state that, due to structural concerns, flood water above 0.6 m in height must be let into the building.
Flood resilience (letting water in)
Flood resilience, also known as a ‘water in’ strategy, is where the property is allowed to flood but potential damage is limited by construction choices. This can be achieved by the installation of impermeable floors, application of breathable damp-resistant plasters, such as Dryzone Damp-Resistant Plaster, and the installation of secondary damp-proof courses above 0.6m height, using products like Dryrod Damp-Proofing Rods.
The advantages of a water in strategy are that it is easier to achieve than a water out strategy. Restoration after floods will also be significantly easier than on an unprepared property. The disadvantage is that there will probably still be some items in the property that will become damaged.
For items and materials that cannot be made resistant or resilient to flood waters, easily repairable or replaceable materials should be used. This can include the use of furniture made of non-permeable materials and the application of easily replaceable plasterboard on internal walls, such as the Dryzone Express Replastering system.
In most cases, a mixture of all of the above strategies will be employed. They are also just a very small selection of the issues that must be taken into consideration. Flooding will always be an emotive issue but if the correct steps are made, its impact to the property owner can be limited significantly.