Cleaning up

The tons of rain that drenched the county can affect your health and home if you aren’t careful. Here are some hints from experts on minimizing damage:

Stay out of the ocean for at least three days after a big rain. The ocean will be dirtier than usual and could make you ill, said Dr. Gerald Wagner of the county Health Care Agency. Call the agency’s environmental-health office.

Watch the drinking water in your home or office. Wagner said the drains in his office building backed up the water supply, which might have affected water from drinking fountains. If you think your water supply is tainted, boil water for 5-10 minutes before using it.

Dry your carpet so it doesn’t get moldy, aggravating allergies and asthma, Wagner said.

Flood-damaged interiors and furniture can be salvaged. Here are some tips:

Odors: Set out pie tins of baking soda to absorb odors.

Draperies: Take drapes to a dry cleaner to find out if they can be cleaned and restored. An extra $2 per section usually is charged for water damage.

Carpets: For spot water damage, pull up the carpet and aim electric fans at it to speed drying, or use a water-extraction device. Companies that provide carpet-repair services will dry carpets for 21-25 cents per square foot.

Fast-dry blowers can be rented for $20 a day and water-extraction devices for $25 a day. Steam-cleaning devices from supermarkets are less expensive, but the equipment usually will not remove water as effectively.

Once the carpet is dry, use a carpet-cleaning product or sprinkle on baking soda and vacuum.

Wood floor: To minimize damage to wood floors, use a household fan to dry wood. Use a moisture meter, available from home centers or hardware stores for about $10, to determine if the flooring is dry. With three-quarter-inch Flooring Options, it might be possible to sand and refinish. Damaged sections might have to be replaced. With a veneer floor, replacement is advisable.

Sticking doors: Moisture causes wood to expand, but it should shrink in the coming weeks. If it remains a problem, the door edge can be planed down. It’s important to plane the interior edge where hinges are located, and it might be necessary to deepen hinge areas.

For interior drains that are clogged, off-the-shelf products are often sufficient. For landscape drains, use a garden hose with high-intensity nozzle. Commercial drain services charge $58-$75.

FURNITURE: Towel-dry upholstered furniture by applying pressure (do not rub), changing towels frequently. Once you’ve toweled off as much moisture as possible, use a fan to complete the drying process.

Upholstered furniture might need professional cleaning.

Leather furniture can crack as it dries, so apply a leather rejuvenator ($5-$15 per container).

Foundation: Remove standing water near the foundation as soon as possible. Build up the earth with a shovel, and pack it firmly. The water will drain away.

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