Could you have hidden water damage in your home following historic flood?

By Amy Davis - Reporter/Consumer Expert

HOUSTON - The historic Houston flood swamped hundreds of homes.

"If you've got 4 feet of water standing in your home, you know you've got water damage," said Jessica Lykins, of DryMore.

But many homeowners got far less.

"Maybe it just comes in through the doorway and maybe, say, it just came a couple feet in the house," Lykins said.

Homeowners moved quickly to sweep it away, mop it up and dry it out, or so they thought.

"That misconception that just a little bit of water didn't do a lot of damage is actually insane," explained Lykins.

She showed KPRC 2 News one Meyerland home that took on 5 inches of water, but there is moisture 5 feet up the wall.

Lykins said water will spread to anything dry, and you can't always see a water mark or line. Her company uses moisture sensors and infrared guns to detect water inside walls.

"This meter right here is going to show me temperature differences," explained Nick Ornowski, showing KPRC 2's Amy Davis the infrared gun. "Generally, where there's water in the wall or any material, it's going to be a little bit cooler."

If you don't have insurance or access to a fancy moisture meter, you can check for water damage yourself. Lykins said you can cut a small hole in your Sheetrock and feel inside for moisture on the inside of the Sheetrock and especially on the insulation.

If you feel a lot of moisture, you'll want to call a professional to cut open the walls and remove and replace the insulation. If it feels only slightly damp, you may be able to put fans in the area to dry it out. But leaving moisture inside your walls will lead to mold.

Water can also hide behind thick baseboards, causing them to eventually peel and fall off. Then there is the harm floodwater could have on your health.

Matthew Strauss developed contact dermatitis after removing the soaked carpet and padding from his Meyerland home.

"I've never had anything like this in my life," Strauss said.

"You have no idea what is coming in from outside," Lykins said. "You have no idea what somebody's dumped in their backyard. You have no idea what animals are out there."

"Whatever else was in that water is in all of our homes now," Strauss said.

The city of Houston is coordinating volunteers to help elderly, disabled and low-income residents with flood cleanup. If you or someone you know needs help, call 311.

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