Extension and Ag Research News


Clean or Replace Flooded Energy-related Items

NDSU offers tips on dealing with flooded items such as insulation and household appliances.

Deciding what to save and what to throw out after a home has been flooded can be daunting.

That’s especially true for energy-related items such as insulation, household appliances, and heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment, says Carl Pedersen, North Dakota State University Extension Service energy educator.

Whether something can be salvaged will depend on the source of the floodwaters, such as clean water from broken water pipes or rain; water from sump pumps or dishwashers that may contain contamination and microorganisms; or overland floodwaters, which can contain a wide variety of contaminants, including raw sewage, petroleum products and various chemicals. For example, any porous materials such as fiberglass insulation that have been exposed to overland floodwaters need to be removed and replaced.

Here are some guidelines for dealing with flooded energy-related items:


  • Fiberglass insulation should be discarded because it will retain the contaminants the floodwaters carried. The insulation can be replaced once the framing materials are allowed to dry properly.
  • Cellulose insulation also should be removed and discarded.
  • Rigid, closed-cell insulation can be cleaned and disinfected. However, remove it if leaving it in place prevents the semiporous materials in building cavities from drying properly.
  • Remove bead board insulation because it can retain water.

Electronic appliances

  • Remove and replace all electrical fixtures such as switches, outlets and breakers that were submerged in water because suspended materials in floodwaters are very difficult to remove once they’ve entered electrical components.
  • Have all electrical appliances such as stoves, water heaters and televisions professionally reconditioned if you plan to reuse them.
  • Electrical motors in appliances such as clothes washers and dryers, dishwashers and refrigerators also need to be professionally reconditioned if they are going to be reused.
  • An electrician or electrical inspector needs to determine whether wiring in a flooded home should be replaced.

Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC)

  • Have HVAC equipment professionally serviced before using it because it contains electric motors and/or electronic components. Replacing HVAC equipment that has been submerged in floodwaters may be safer and more cost effective.
  • Clean HVAC duct work. Professional duct cleaning services may be available in your area. Cleaning metal duct work is possible, but it should be dismantled to ensure that all water, mud and potential contaminants are removed.
  • Flexible ductwork should be removed and replaced because it is nearly impossible to clean effectively.
  • Do not use chlorine bleach to clean HVAC components because it is corrosive. Homeowners or qualified duct cleaning companies should use only HVAC-approved cleaning agents.
  • Ducts should be cleaned even if they were not submerged in water because mold can grow very quickly in flood situations, especially in the summer, because of high humidity levels in wall cavities and duct work.

For more detailed information on cleaning a flooded home or other structure, visit the NDSU flood website at www.ag.ndsu.edu/flood.

NDSU Agriculture Communication - July 8, 2011

Source:Carl Pedersen, (701) 231-5833, carl.pedersen@ndsu.edu
Editor:Ellen Crawford, (701) 2321-5391, ellen.crawford@ndsu.edu
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