Dealing with the Aftermath
For many people, when a terrible storm hits, it’s the aftermath that is the worst. Debris, flood waters, power outages, broken tree limbs, shattered glass, piles of snow— these are all dangerous risks once a hurricane, tornado, or nor’easter makes its way through a town or community.
The editors of This Old House have compiled our best and safest advice for how to deal with the cleanup after a storm. Follow along to see how you can save your house from more harm—and keep yourself and your family safe as you do it.
Stop a Flood
With a heavy storm comes heavy rains, and inevitably flooding. If waters come into your home, be careful about getting it out. Turn off the power—but only if the water hasn’t reached as high as any electrical outlets in the room where the main breaker lives. Otherwise you could be wading into an electrified pond.
Dry Out Your House
Once the storm subsides, hiring a professional service might be your best bet for a thorough cleanup, because they will know how to eradicate water in places you didn’t even realize it had seeped. Get tips from the pros on how they banish excess runoff by reading . Also learn why you might want to leave the cleanup to a pro in Five Questions to Ask Your Flood Control Specialist
Stave Off Mold
Even if you think you’ve gotten all of your goods dried out and cleaned up, dirty and contaminated floodwaters may have already laid the groundwork for mold—not just on the walls, but inside them and in floors and furniture. Read about Keeping Mold From Taking Hold and How to Clean Up Mold if it does rear its nasty, blue-fuzzed head.
Clear Away Snow
In higher elevations, the precipitation from a powerful storm may freeze into devastating snow. Every inch of rain put out by a storm can manifest as 10 inches of snow if the temperatures are low enough.
If you find yourself under several feet of the white stuff, use common sense when trying to get out. Follow our advice on how to Shovel Snow Without Having a Heart Attack. Then get more tips on Snow and how to Dig Out your Car Without Damaging the Driveway
Ditch the Ice Dams
One of the hazards to your home after a snow storm and cold weather are ice dams’Äîsolid ice that builds along the eaves, pushing up roof shingles and causing leaks. If you start to see icicles forming along your gutters, try one of our Fast Fixes for Ice Dams. If that doesn’t do the trick, dive deeper into our advice on How to Get Rid of Ice Dams
Clean Up Damaged Trees
With high winds and heavy rains or snows come downed trees, one of the most dangerous and damaging outcomes of a powerful storm.
First figure out how bad the situation is by following the advice in Assessing Tree Damage. If you find you’ll need to remove a tree, call in a certified arborist to do any major removal; taking down trees is a scary job that can cause terrible injury if not done right, as is clear in How to Take Down a Dangerous Tree.
Smaller ornamental trees and foundation plantings may just need some cleanup to broken branches. Learn the best methods for How to Prune Small Trees and Shrubs.
Fix Broken Glass
High winds and flying debris might have shattered a pane or two. Follow TOH general contractor Tom Silva’s advice for repairing broken glass, whether it’s on a door, in a window, or only accessible from inside.
Even windows left unscathed by flying branches may be covered in filth from the wind-blown rainwater. Get them sparkling again by learning How to Clean Windows Like a Pro.
Those on the peripheries of a terrible storm may not have had downed trees or flooded basements, but they’re likely to have found themselves with a house and yard covered in leaves and twigs. Now is the time to break out the leaf blowers; find out which ones we recommend in our TOH Tested: Leaf Blowers review.