Floods cause severe damage to your home, but much of it can be repaired. Once you've been given the approval to return to your home, it's important to head home and inspect the damage. Eventually, you'll want to inspect every area of your home, but there are four areas you must check first to ensure your safety as you explore and repair the home.

The Physical Structure

When you return home, start by inspecting the damage to the exterior structure. Even if the home looks intact, there may be some damage that could create hazardous conditions. When inspecting check for:

  • Holes or cracks in the exterior walls
  • Sagging roof or overhangs
  • Large debris on the roof
  • Fresh cracks in the foundation

While inspecting your home, do not climb onto the roof. Inspect it from the ground, and if you are unable to determine if there is potential damage, contact a professional.

If you feel it is safe to enter the home, look for more damage inside. Glaring signs include sagging upper floors/ceilings and cracks or holes in the walls or ceilings. If it is difficult to determine if the ceiling is sagging, open doors. If the doors get stuck, it's a good sign the ceiling is sagging. If this is the case, leave your home and contact a contractor.

Utility Lines

If your home's structure is secure, the next area to inspect are the utility lines. Start by smelling the air. If you smell gas, open all the windows of your home, leave the house and contact the gas company. If you smell sewage, contact a plumber. The electricity should be turned off and inspected by a professional.

The last utility to check is city drinking water. Let it run for a while, and if you notice unpleasant odors or discoloration, do not drink it. It is likely damaged and contaminated with sewage. You can continue to examine your home, but do not drink the water until it has been inspected by a plumber.

Septic Tanks and Wells

Some people don't have access to city lines. If you have a septic tank, a flood could let it overflow. Signs that your septic tank have overflown include odor, puddles of water above the tank, green grass above the tank and sewage backup in the basement. A residential plumber who handles septic tanks should be called immediately if you suspect it has overflown.

If you have a well for drinking water, it is likely the flood contaminated the water, depending on the type of well. As with city water, you'll check your well for discoloration or unpleasant odor. Even if the flood was minor and didn't overflow your well, it's important to check incase contaminated groundwater seeped through the well walls.


Last, while working in your home, you may be tempted to eat food that seems uncontaminated. However, even if food wasn't touched by flood water, it may not be safe to consume, but there are some exceptions. Typically, any professionally canned or sealed foods can be eaten, but it is always safer to toss any questionable food.

If you do chose to keep canned food after a flood because it hasn't been touched by flood water, make sure to remove any labels and wash the can completely before eating from it. Until you are sure your drinking water is safe, only drink from new bottled water.

If your home has been exposed to a flood, there is a lot of hidden damage. If you are ready to return to your home to inspect the level of damage, make sure you check these three areas first. For more information, contact a plumber or another professional in your area today.