Farmsteads and Equipment

Insulated Buildings

Mould will grow in wet insulation, therefore consideration should be given to complete removal and disposal of wetted materials, noting the precautions used for handling moulded grain.

Wear personal protective equipment including gloves, respiratory protection, goggles and coveralls.

Wet insulated walls must be dried out. Most insulation materials must be dry to offer any resistance to heat flow. In addition, moisture trapped in wall cavities will cause rot and deterioration. To dry insulated walls, loosen exterior wall sheeting and prop it away from the studs to allow air to circulate in the wall cavity. This is preferable to removing interior sheeting, since the vapour barrier remains intact. Since sheeting materials such as plywood will swell markedly when soaked, it may be necessary to wait until the sheeting has dried somewhat before attempting to open the wall cavities.

General facility cleanup will undoubtedly be required, but may also provide a rare opportunity to thoroughly inspect and repair facilities and equipment that are otherwise under continuous use.

Foundations

As moisture and soil conditions return to normal after severe flooding, building foundation damage may occur. This type of damage will not be evident immediately, but will begin to show up some time later. Seek expert advice as soon as foundation and floor changes or weakness become evident. This recommendation is particularly important for heavily loaded foundations, such as those for grain bins and tower silos.

Manure Pits

It is not advisable to pump out the water in below-ground structures immediately after floodwaters recede. Many below-ground structures cannot resist the high pressure of fully saturated soils surrounding them and could collapse if emptied before the surrounding soil moisture dissipates.

If immediate manure storage capacity is required, empty only enough of the manure storage tank to provide for the short term and wait at least 2 to 3 weeks to empty completely.

Extra agitation during pump out may be required to remove silt accumulations. Before cleaning out the manure pits ensure that the building is well ventilated as agitating stored manure will release potentially lethal concentrations of hydrogen sulphide. Livestock producers that are required to file annual manure management plans with Manitoba Conservation should check with Conservation before emptying their manure storages. 

Electrical System

Ensure that the power to the barn has been turned off before entering or working around any livestock buildings if they have been flooded.

All building heating/cooling systems must be inspected by a qualified technician before they are energized or restarted.

All electrical switches and circuit breakers MUST be replaced before being energized. Check with a licensed electrical contractor or Manitoba Hydro.

Any electric motor that has been submerged must be thoroughly dried out before reuse. Even a very small amount of water inside a motor can cause a short circuit and severe damage. The best procedure is to take the motor to a repair shop where it can be properly dried, cleaned and serviced. It is important to ensure that the motor shaft is lubricated. Bearings should be greased or oiled, depending on the type of bearing. Again, this is best done by a qualified service shop.

Farm Machinery

The first step is to drain all fuel and lubricating fluids (including brake fluid and engine, hydraulic, transmission and differential oil). Flush with clean fluid and refill. At the same time, be sure to replace all filters for the above fluids. As an extra precaution, these filters could be replaced again after a few hours operation, to remove any accumulated dirt and contaminants.

When restoring equipment cabs, clean and disinfect hard surfaces to control mould and mildew. Absorbent materials (such as seats and upholstery) may have to be cleaned with special techniques.

If the engine has been completely submerged, any water in the cylinders should be drained immediately. Pour a small amount of oil into each cylinder. Drain any other areas (such as clutch housings) that may retain water.

Where accumulated silt could cause a problem, it can be washed away with clean water before it dries. Oil or grease all bearings and grease fittings immediately to prevent rust. Similarly, all chains should be oiled.

Alternators, generators and starting motors (like electric motors) that have been under water, should be removed and serviced. Thorough drying before use is essential to prevent damage.