BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Thousands of residents in south Louisiana are eager to get back into their homes, but home inspectors are urging them to practice patience.
They warn one wrong step and homeowners could wind up spending double, even triple, to get their houses healthy again.
Debris piles welcome people into most neighborhoods in the Capital region. Most houses have been cleaned and stripped to the studs. Most homeowners have begun drying the moisture from their homes.
Kevin Dinkel, an inspector and owner of Advantage Services, uses a professional grade monitor to test the studs in recently flooded homes. He said, the moisture level in the wood should be less than 17 percent before homeowner's rebuild. He added most that were flooded during the historic event are not quite ready.
"See it's 19 percent here so this is still too wet. The plate takes longer to dry because it's on concrete," Dinkel told one homeowner.
Dinkel said deciding whether to remove kitchen cabinets can be tricky.
"People have called us saying, 'We only had 10 inches of water. I don't want to rip out my kitchen cabinets.' Well, unfortunately, there is sheetrock behind those cabinets and the only way to get it dry is to remove the cabinets," Dinkel said.
As Dinkel made his way through the house, he noticed the plumbing and built-ins, like a shower in the master bath. That could also pose problems.
"It's over 19 percent. So, really this needs to come out because there's sheetrock behind it, insulation behind it," Dinkel said.
If you have got a fireplace with sheetrock or insulation behind it, there is a good chance you might have to remove it too.
"It's got a metal case and is sitting on wood. And this is insulated to where it is capable to being close to wood before being a fire hazard. That insulation's all wet. Most manufacturers are saying if the unit got water in the insulation that it should be removed as well," Dinkel said.
Once everything that was saturated is removed or dried, Dinkel said, he takes his samples to a lab approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). He said those results will be critical if the homeowner wants to sell or rent the house.
"If you're getting a certificate and you don't have some sort of lab report that goes with it, you really don't have anything," Dinkel warned.
He added, just because a product has been approved by the EPA, does not mean it will pass the lab test.
And finally, if you've got your air conditioning unit working overtime to dry out your house, you might want to make sure to adjust your thermostat.
"At this point I would raise it to 74 degrees so that you don't end up with a condensation problem. It's just putting more water back into your house," Dinkel said.
Dinkel said the house he was looking at was almost ready to be treated for mold and termites if the homeowner so chooses. Once it passes the lab tests it will be cleared for construction.
Advantage Services charges $595 for up to three samples in the average home.
For more information, call (225) 753-8114 or visit Advantage Service's website.