How to clean your home after the UAE’s heaviest rainfall on record? Residents share tips

Documenting any damage is recommended as is combating mold and mildew

Ensure light furniture and loose objects are not at risk of flying off the next time it rains. Mona Al Marzooqi / The National
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From leaky ceilings and sopping furniture to flooded rooms and gardens turned to mush, yesterday’s record-breaking downpour adversely affected many homes as well as living conditions.

The basic wiping, squeegeeing and mopping aside, we ask residents and experts how to reverse the damage, as well as ways to reduce the impact the next time it rains.

Today: Disinfect and document

Neha Gaggar, co-founder of team-building company Rush-A-Way, found herself facing a fallen tree right at the entrance of her Umm Suqeim villa. “My husband and I could not move it ourselves, so we rang Dubai Municipality call centre number [800 900] at 7pm on Tuesday. We were told the agricultural division would get here when they can to move it.”

Rama Kamil, a resident of Jumeirah Village Triangle in Dubai, also recommends calling in the experts for big-ticket damage. “An entire metal gazebo collapsed in our backyard and we have been advised not to go close to it or attempt to clean up ourselves as it could be very dangerous, and to instead call in a building company,” says the marketing manager.

For Kamil, who has a garden, another priority is wiping down all wet surfaces outside the home as well as emptying plant pots and other receptors. “This is crucial to avoid mosquitoes from multiplying as we have young children in the home,” she says.

Kabir Khan, who lives in a villa in Abu Dhabi’s Al Raha community, adds disinfection is as important as removing debris and wiping down furniture and other surfaces.

The IT executive also tends to document any damage, taking pictures and footage from his phone. “This helps if you need to raise complaints with facility management or insurance companies,” he says.

The bathroom should not be overlooked, either, says Frederick Trzcinski, vice president, commercial ME and marketing MEA at Ideal Standard. “Start by drying all surfaces and ventilating the space to prevent mold and mildew growth.

“Cleaning drains is essential to prevent clogs and ensure proper drainage, while maintaining grout and sealants helps preserve the integrity of your bathroom surfaces. Additionally, using water-absorbent mats can help capture excess moisture and protect your floors.”

Tomorrow: Waterproof and exercise electric safety

There are also ways in which residents can lay the groundwork to minimise water-related damage the next time it rains. Gaggar says she assesses the weak points in the house after each downpour and takes action accordingly, which paid off this time around.

“Each time it has rained in the past few months, parts of the ceiling would leak and break, so we called some workers in to waterproof. However, this did not work in one part of the house, so a few months ago, we installed a second layer of roof, and this time that area of the house was safe and dry,” she says.

“A lot of the water also comes in from the windows, so now we place heavy towels on the sill as soon as it starts raining to reduce the flow.”

When it comes to safety, shifting or pinning down loose objects is key, says Hitesh Sharma, founder of Taste Studio Catering. “We’ve had light construction barricades and sheets attached to poles flying about outside the studio in Jebel Ali all morning, which is so dangerous,” he says.

“At home, too, take in all your wicker and cane furniture from the garden or balcony so it does not fly out.”

Sharma, who has stayed in various villas for the past eight years, is also a proponent of electric safety. “When any of the points in my home’s distribution board trips, I put the breakers down one by one. Then I switch on the main first followed by each individual breaker. If any of these drop, I don’t turn that particular one on again as it means it is still wet and needs time to dry off, which could take a whole day, even two depending on the extent of the leakage,” he explains.

Shane Jewell, associate director of Dubai Sotheby’s International Realty, offers a to-do list to help prevent future water damage. “Do a full water inspection on your property. Roofs are one of the worst problems for leaks, so do a maintenance check. Use silicone along windows and doors, and check all walls for cracks and peeling paint as water can get through these.”

Jewell adds: “Make sure all external and internal drainage has been water-tested and is clear rather than clogged up or covered by furniture. A common error in the UAE is the landscaping areas do not flow the correct way. Have your maintenance team check any garden or patio areas to make sure the water is flowing towards the drainage.

“People who have swimming pools should ensure they have been drained so levels are not so high as to overflow.”

Finally, those who own their homes can look into installing drainage pipes or pumps underground, while tenants can request the same of landlords.

Updated: April 18, 2024, 5:28 AM