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8 Dec 2021

How to dry your home out after a leak or flood

Here are some key steps you can take in the aftermath of a flood to reduce damp and long-term damage to your home

Water leaking into a house can be an enormous problem. It can ruin personal possessions and electrical appliances, lead to the growth of mould and cause serious structural damage.

If you've experienced a leak or flood, there are a few key steps you can take early on to help minimise the amount of damage in the long run.

Already decided to buy a dehumidifier? Discover our Best Buy dehumidifiers

How to stay safe after a flood

The Met Office recommends that, after a flood, you:

  • check with the emergency services that it's safe to return to your property, if you've had to leave it
  • wash your hands thoroughly after any contact with flood water, which can contain sewage, chemicals and animal waste
  • wear gloves, a face mask and sturdy footwear when cleaning your home
  • don't start repairs on your property straight away, as your insurance company should appoint specialists to carry these out.

Contact your insurance provider

  • Contact your insurance company and follow its advice.
  • Contact the National Flood Forum on 01299 403055, or via its website, if you don't have insurance.
  • Make a record of the flood damage in your home by writing details down as well as taking photos and videos.
  • In every room that has been flooded, use a permanent marker to mark the height the flood water has reached.

Read our guide to home insurance and flooding to check if your property is at risk. Plus, find out what to do if you need to make a home insurance claim.

Invest in a dehumidifier

High levels of moisture in the air can lead to mould growth. If you're living in damp, mouldy accommodation, you'll be more prone to respiratory problems, respiratory infections, allergies and asthma. Damp and mould can also affect the immune system. Babies and children, elderly people and people with a weakened immune system are especially vulnerable.

A dehumidifier can help remove excess moisture from the air. If you've got serious flood damage, it'll by no means solve the issue, but it can help to speed up the process of drying out your home.

There are two types of home dehumidifier available. Refrigerant (or compressor) dehumidifiers draw in air through a filter and over cold coils, which then condenses and drips into the water tank. These typically work best in a heated room, as the air in the room needs to be warmer than the cold surface inside the dehumidifier.

You can also get a desiccant dehumidifier. These use an adsorbent material to draw in moisture from the air. The material is then heated, which causes moisture to drip into the water tank. As desiccant dehumidifiers are not dependent on temperature to be effective, they work better than refrigerant models in rooms that tend to have a lower temperature, such as a conservatory or garage.

When running a dehumidifier, keep the windows shut so damp air from outside isn't drawn in - the dehumidifier would then work harder trying to dehumidify a greater area. Keep the doors inside your home open, though, so the air can circulate.

To help you decide what brand and type of dehumidifier is best for your needs, read our dehumidifier reviews or head over to our guide on how to buy the best dehumidifier.

Call in a professional to help fix your damp problem

It could well be that you need to call in a professional. They may need to be appointed by your insurer, so it's important to find this out before you undertake any repairs yourself.

They can help to identify what type of damp you are dealing with and offer advice on how it can best be repaired. Read our guide on how to get rid of damp to see what repair work may need to take place.

Our damp costs page explains how much you should expect to pay to fix different types of damp.

If you need help from a professional, use Which? Trusted Traders to find a reliable damp specialist that has been vetted by our endorsement scheme.

What to do if your rented home gets flooded

Citizens Advice recommends that, after a flood, renters should follow these steps:

  • Inform your landlord as soon as possible so they can agree with you what repair work needs to be done and how long it will take.
  • If some rooms become inaccessible while the repair work is being done, see if you can get a temporary rent reduction or claim for one at a later date.
  • If your home is seriously damaged from flooding, you may need to move out. Before you do so, make sure to inform your landlord and get them to confirm how long repairs should take and when you can move back in once they're complete.
  • Check with your landlord whether they can cover the cost of temporary accommodation or suspend your rent payments, if you have to move out.
  • Contact your local council if you have nowhere else to live. As flooding is an emergency situation, you should be treated as a priority.

Depending on your circumstances, and how significant the flood damage in your rented home is, you may have a number of options available to you. See the full Citizens Advice guide to check what help you can get.

If you need more support, the Environment Agency has specially trained Flood Support Officers who can help. You can get in touch with them through its 24-hour service on 0345 988 1188 or type-talk on 0345 602 6340.

Need more advice on dealing with damp? We've got a wealth of online advice on damp, including understanding what kind of damp is affecting your home, how to stop condensation and treating rising damp and penetrating damp.