Water damaged homes along the coast of Florida have much more to contend with than those that are inland. Whether you're a long-time Floridian or you're new to the state, you may not realize that during a hurricane or other severe storm, water is pulled off the ocean before being dumped back down on buildings, homes, and other property, leaving behind a different kind of damage in its wake. If you live anywhere that has a regular hurricane season, here are the four biggest ways that salt water is a threat to your safety as well as your belongings, and what you need to do about them.
Risk of Shock
Salt can be used for a number of DIY tasks around the house, from getting rid of weeds all the way to removing stains from your enamel pans. But when it enters your home unwanted from a hurricane, it can really mess up your electrical outlets and appliances, and here's why.
The amount of salt that ends up in storm water is not quite as much as what you'd find in ocean water, but it's still potentially dangerous. You see, when salt mixes with water, it becomes a natural conductor of electricity, much more so than tap water. Therefore, if you return to your home after a hurricane and find standing water on your floors, you're at a greater risk of shock.
Not only that: any appliances that are affected, even after the water has dried, are now a fire hazard from the corrosion left behind. Many might assume that the salt would only affect the exposed part of the plug, but the corrosion can actually creep up the cords and eat away at the copper too.
To prevent your appliances from shorting out and causing a fire, a professional water-damage restoration company is needed to wash away the salt and corrosion then test your appliances and electrical outlets. From there, recommendations for replacements will be made.
Damage to Wood
Salt and wood, when left to their own devices, can get into a lot of trouble. If you've ever looked at a pier in the ocean and noticed that fuzzy stuff growing on the pilings, these are actually salt crystals, and they are just the tip of what's going on beneath the surface. Over time, these crystals will eat through the wood and pull out the lignin within through small bursts of electrical currents, completely destroying the beams. This process is called delignification.
Where one storm isn't likely to produce the level of delignification that happens to a pier constantly exposed to the ocean, the damage can still occur. A professional cleaning and freshwater flush is needed to protect the wooden parts of your home from structural damage.
Damage to Concrete
Many people think of concrete as is being relatively safe from water damage. But this is not the case. Salt water can eat through concrete, going all the way to the metal reinforcements and munching away on those as well. Over time, your home or building can become weak and unstable. Homes with concrete foundations, sidewalks, and pilings that are continuously exposed to stormy weather and salt-water flooding need to be professionally assessed and treated as they are at risk for collapse down the road.
Damage to Documents
Losing important documents to storm damage can feel just as devastating as when your home or furniture is affected, and sometimes, even more so. The risk of damage to documents in a hurricane area increases in several ways.
First, salt water has a drying effect that varies from that of regular rain water, causing more warping once everything is dry. Second, the corrosion left behind can scratch the surface of certain things, particularly pictures or negatives that contain other chemicals.
If you have documents that have been damaged in a Florida storm, it's best to use a professional document recovery service. While waiting on the professionals (or until you can get your things to them), it's recommended to wash away the salt left behind then freeze the items in a bag when possible.
For more information about cleaning up after a hurricane, contact a water damage restoration company.