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Apartment Flooded? Here's What to Do

September 23, 2023
An apartment flood can destroy your personal belongings and turn your life upside down. Here’s how to quickly take action and preserve a flooded apartment.

An apartment flood is a renter’s worst nightmare. According to a study by the National Apartment Association, flooding is the most common natural disaster to affect apartment buildings in places like Florida and Louisiana, accounting for 25% of all natural disaster claims. Why? Water damages everything from personal belongings to flooring. Flooded apartments also require quick action to mitigate the damage and restore your living space.

Despite the urgency of the situation, staying calm and methodically working through a to-do list is possible with a plan in place. Here’s what to do when your apartment floods.

The Ultimate Apartment Flooding Guide

What to Do If Your Apartment Floods

Here are the most essential steps to take if you find your apartment flooded unexpectedly.

Step 1: Shut Off the Water Supply

Immediately stop the flow of water to help prevent more damage. If unsure about shutting it off, seek assistance from your landlord or a professional plumber.

Step 2: Evacuate Your Apartment

Always prioritize your safety and the safety of those around you. In situations where water levels rise quickly or where there's a perceived electrical hazard, it's essential to dial 911 and evacuate the premises immediately.

Step 3: Find the Source of the Damage

Try to identify the source of the flood so that you can stop it if possible. This may involve turning off a faucet, tightening a loose pipe, or plugging a hole in a wall.

Step 4: Document the Damage

Document the extent of the damage to your apartment and personal belongings by capturing photos and videos. Having this visual evidence on hand will be essential for when you're ready to file a claim with your insurance provider.

How to Handle an Apartment Flood

Step 5: Call Your Insurance Company

Contact your renter’s insurance company as soon as possible to file a claim. They will be able to help you with the repairs and replacement of your belongings.

Step 6: Call a Water Damage Restoration Company

A water damage restoration company can help you to clean up and repair your apartment after a flood. They have the experience and equipment to do the job quickly and efficiently.

Step 7: Clean Up and Repair the Damage

Once the water damage restoration company has completed their work, you may need to do some additional cleaning and repairs yourself. This may include removing damaged drywall, flooring, or furniture.

What to Do If Your Neighbor's Apartment Floods

If your neighbor's apartment floods, immediate action is crucial for property protection. Avoid entering flooded areas due to potential electrical hazards. Notify your neighbor and building management immediately, and if possible, turn off the water source.

Should water seep into your unit, elevate valuables and create barriers with towels. Always document damage with photographs for insurance claims. In severe cases, contact your insurance company, and remember to support your neighbor and communicate to handle the situation together.

6 Common Causes for Apartment Floods

Understanding the culprits can be half the battle. Here are some of the most common causes of apartment floods you should be aware of.

  1. Plumbing leaks: This is the most common cause of apartment floods. Leaks can occur anywhere in the plumbing system, including pipes, faucets, toilets, and shower heads.
  2. Appliance malfunctions: Washing machines, dishwashers, and refrigerators can all leak, causing flooding.
  3. Clogged Drains: Clogged drains can back up and cause water to overflow from sinks, showers, and tubs.
  4. Heavy rainfall: Heavy rainfall can overwhelm storm drains and cause flooding in basements and other low-lying areas.
  5. Snowmelt: Snowmelt can cause flooding if it melts too quickly and overwhelms storm drains.
  6. Broken pipes: Pipes can break due to age, wear and tear, or freezing weather.

If you live in an apartment building, it is important to be aware of the common causes of apartment floods. This can help you to take steps to help prevent flooding in your own apartment.

Common Reasons for Flooding in Apartments

My Apartment Flooded: What Are My Rights?

Your rights as a renter if your apartment floods vary by state, but in general, landlords are responsible for repairing and maintaining the rental property, including fixing leaks and other plumbing problems. This means that if your apartment floods due to a problem with the plumbing, your landlord should be responsible for fixing the damage and restoring the unit to habitable condition.

If your apartment is flooded and uninhabitable, you may have the right to terminate your lease without penalty. You should also have the right to a refund of any rent you have already paid for the month in which the flooding took place.

How to File a Claim After an Apartment Flood

If your apartment floods, it is important to file a claim with your insurance company as soon as possible. This will help you to get the financial assistance you need to repair the damage and replace any lost or damaged belongings.

To file a claim, you will need to contact your insurance company and provide them with the following information:

  • Your name and contact information
  • Your policy number
  • The date and time of the flood
  • A description of the damage
  • An estimate of the cost of repairs

You will also need to provide the insurance company with documentation of the damage. This may include photos and videos of the damage, as well as receipts for any repairs or replacements that you have already made.

How to Clean Up a Flooded Apartment

Tackling the aftermath head on is what’ll lead to a swift recovery; dive into our tips on cleaning up a flooded apartment.

  • Remove any standing water: You can use a wet/dry vacuum cleaner, a mop, or a bucket to remove water.
  • Dry out the area: You can use fans, dehumidifiers, or towels to dry out the area.
  • Clean and disinfect: Use a disinfectant cleaner to clean all surfaces that were exposed to flood water. This will help to prevent the growth of mold and mildew.
  • Contact professionals: Depending on the severity of the flood, consider hiring professionals for water extraction, drying, or mold prevention.

After you finish cleaning, you'll probably want to learn everything you can to keep yourself from having to go this this again.

Cleaning Tips for Flooded Apartments

How to Avoid Apartment Floods

Being proactive can be the difference between a dry haven and a watery mess; here's how to avoid apartment floods.

  • Inspect your plumbing regularly: Look for leaks around pipes, faucets, and appliances. If you see any leaks, fix them immediately.
  • Install water leak detectors: These devices can alert you to leaks early on, before they cause major damage.
  • Have your water heater serviced regularly: This will help to prevent leaks and other problems.
  • Be careful with water-using appliances: Always turn off appliances when you're finished using them. If you're going to be away from home for a long period of time, unplug appliances as well.
  • Have a flood plan in place: This should include knowing how to shut off the water supply to your apartment and how to contact your landlord or property manager in the event of a flood.

Apartment Flood Prevention Tips Tricks

Final Thoughts

Flooded apartments can wreak havoc on your life and interrupt your daily life. However, you can jump into action and take control with a plan in place.

With the help of your landlord, you can get on top of the problem and get back to enjoying your life. Good luck and stay safe!

Apartment Flood FAQs

How Long Does It Take to Fix a Flooded Apartment?

The time it takes to fix an apartment water damage from a flood can vary depending on the severity of the damage and the availability of contractors. However, in general, you can expect the repair process to take several days to several weeks.

What are Some Signs that My Apartment Is at Risk of Flooding?

These are some common signs that your apartment is at risk of flooding:

  • You live in a basement or low-lying area.
  • Your apartment has a history of flooding.
  • Your apartment has cracked or damaged foundation walls.
  • You have water stains on your walls or ceilings.
  • Your floors are sloping or uneven.
  • You have a sump pump that runs frequently or never runs at all.
  • You have clogged drains or gutters.
  • You have leaky pipes or faucets.

What Should I Do If I Have a Sump Pump?

If you have a sump pump, it is important to maintain it properly to ensure that it is working properly in the event of a flood. Here are some tips for sump pump maintenance:

  • Have your sump pump tested regularly to make sure it is working.
  • Have your sump pump basin cleaned regularly to remove debris.
  • Make sure the sump pump discharge pipe is clear and unobstructed.
  • Ask your landlord to have your sump pump serviced by a professional every year or two.

How Should I Maintain My Plumbing to Avoid Floods and Leaks?

Here are some tips for maintaining your plumbing to help prevent water leaks and floods in your apartment:

  • Have plumbing regularly inspected for signs of wear or damage.
  • Have maintenance tighten any loose connections.
  • Ask maintenance to replace any worn or damaged pipes or fixtures.
  • Ask to have pipes in areas that are exposed to cold weather insulated.

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Dr. Katherine Blake
Dr. Katherine Blake is a content editor with Apartment List, where she helps ensure our renter and rental management content is fresh and informed by the latest data. Read More
Tristian Brown
Tristian Brown is a Senior Content Marketing Associate at Apartment List, where he manages high-quality content that helps modern renters find the perfect home. He brings an immense wealth of knowledge to the team, having earned a Bachelor of Arts in Marketing and European Management from the University of San Diego and EM Strasbourg Business School. Read More
Susan Finch
Susan is an accomplished freelance writer whose passion for rental real estate, travel, and digital marketing has been the driving force behind her nearly 15-year career. Throughout her professional journey, Susan has become a seasoned veteran in creating compelling and informative content focused on the tenant/landlord relationship. Read More
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