Even the smallest water event can cause serious damage to a commercial property. So, it’s especially distressing when a ruptured pipe, or act of nature causing serious flooding and water damage. In moments like this, a lot of commercial property owners and building managers are left wondering what they can do about a flooded building.

If you find yourself in a time like this, you can use the following steps and tips to help minimize the damage caused by flooding and hopefully restore the building to safe working order as fast as is reasonably possible.

Step 1: Turn Off The Electricity

Electricity and water never mix and can lead to electrocution problems or even a dangerous electrical fire. Get to the circuit breaker as fast as possible and turn off all power to that floor and subsequent lower floors.

Step 2: Find & Stop The Source Of The Water

This might sound like a common sense thing, but not all flooding events have an obvious source. If water is coming through the ceiling tiles, is it damage to the roof, a failed gutter, or perhaps a ruptured fire sprinkler line? Whatever the source of the water is, it needs to be dealt with, or all your attempts to clean and dry the building will inevitably fail.

Step 3: Take Photos & Document Damages As You See Them

Water tends to obscure its presence, and even wet items might not look immediately compromised to the naked eye. When everything is said and done, you will likely need to file some sort of claim with the property’s insurance provider or the commercial property landlord. Visual evidence of the water and how it progresses will go a long way toward expediting the claim process as well as reducing disputes about the severity of the damage.

Step 4: Evacuate All Non-Essential Personnel

Depending on the source, water can carry microbes and other dangerous pathogens. In the case of a ruptured or backed up sewer pipe the danger can be severe, and compounded by the presence of toxic gasses. All non-essential personnel needs to be evacuated from the building as quickly as possible, yet still in a safe and orderly fashion.

Step 5: Call For Help

In the case of a natural disaster, emergency services might already be overwhelmed. Though in the case of an industrial accident or a ruptured pipe there might be plumbers and other specialist personnel who can provide emergency services to help stop the water damage or minimize its progress.

Step 6: Be Meticulous About The Cleanup

Flooding can easily damage soft surfaces and flooring. Even a tile or hardwood floor that has suffered severe flooding can still trap lingering amounts of moisture. This can lead to mold infestation and rotting problems in the subfloor that linger for years after the initial water intrusion event.

If you are unsure about whether or not something can be saved, it’s probably best to discard it. Even a beloved piece of upholstered furniture that isn’t properly dried promptly can develop into a serious mold problem week or even months after the flood damage has been all cleaned up.

Step 7: Beware The Presence Of Mold

Mold and water damage caused by flooding go hand in hand. If your commercial property has suffered serious flood damage, then it is at serious risk for major mold problems. Proper disposal of inundated items is an essential first step for preventing mold colonization.

Fortunately, there are mold preventative sprays and cleaning products that can inhibit mold spore’s ability to colonize a previously wet surface. They are especially handy for sanitizing porous surfaces like wood that are exceedingly prone to mold problems after a building suffers flood damage.

Step 8: Address The Cause Of The Flooding

In the case of a natural disaster like a hurricane or a flooded river that bursts its banks, there’s not a lot that can be done to prevent a building from flooding again. If the flooding was caused by a fault of the building or the local plumbing, then every effort needs to be made to repair the problem and take steps toward preventing it again. This might mean repairing or replacing gutters, updating the building’s roof, or making changes to the plumbing infrastructure.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do All Commercial Properties Have Flood Insurance?

If you are a tenant renting a portion of a commercial property that floods, there might be extensive liability issues. If you are a commercial property manager or the owner of the building it’s important to note that not all commercial property insurance programs include flood coverage. Flood coverage is only typically required in areas that are known to be at elevated risk for natural disasters. This includes buildings that are near rivers, lakes, and reservoirs that have had flooding problems in the past.

If your building isn’t near one of these high-risk natural features, then chances are good that flood coverage is not included in your policy. If it was, the premium costs would be much higher.

Should I Get Flood Insurance For My Building?

If you are the owner or manager of a commercial property, you might want to consider getting an additional flood insurance policy. This is an additional cost that goes above and beyond the standard insurance premium. Though it might be a major money-saving choice if your commercial property is older, has an outdated roof, or older plumbing infrastructure.

Is A Backed Up Sewer Considered “Flooding?”

Unfortunately, a backed-up sewer line is not covered under most standard insurance policies. However, if the backed-up sewer line was caused by a failure in the municipal plumbing infrastructure, then the city, county, or township might be held liable for damages caused to your building. If the damage occurred as a fault of the building’s internal plumbing, then the flood damage is likely not going to be covered by your insurance provider.


Flood damage in a home, building, or commercial property is always a distressing thing. Keeping a level head, and taking a few critical safety steps will go a long way toward safely managing the damage caused by water and other effluent materials.