A few weeks ago, I came home to a flooded basement. Up until that moment, I had considered myself to be a stoic homeowner.
My basement had never taken such a huge hit before, and I must admit that the way this storm ravaged my basement made me panic a bit. Luckily, I knew exactly who to call to help me deal with the mess.
And, determined not to let this happen again, I did a bit of research and learned a lot about what one should do when their basement floods. So that you won’t have to endure a nightmarish ordeal in case your basement floods as well, I decided to share a few tips.
Make Sure The Basement Is Safe to Enter
Since water can cause so much damage, much more than one may think, you should assess how dangerous the situation is before you enter the basement.
If there is more than a puddle of water in your basement, and the water just keeps coming in, the water may have come in contact with electrical wiring and outlets. Don’t enter the basement if you think that outlets and electrical appliances may already be underwater. You could get shocked.
if the water is more than 2” inches deep, it’s best to call a water damage specialist or a professional plumber right away. Regardless of the water level, turn off power to the basement (provided that your main electrical service panel isn’t located in the basement). Contact an electrical professional to shut off the power if you can’t access the panel.
If the water in the basement is coming close to your water heater, furnace, or any gas-fired appliances, tell your gas company to shut off the gas. Even if you know how to shut the gas off, it’s best to stay away from it when there is an emergency. If you smell gas, get out of the house immediately.
You can continue with the following steps if the flood in the basement doesn’t pose a gas-related or electrical hazard.
Find the Source of the Water
To see if you can stop the flood quickly, the next step is to figure out why there is water in your basement. Even if you can’t stop the flood yourself, you’ll be able to pinpoint the problem when your contractor or plumber arrives and thus save them a lot of time.
To figure out how the water is getting in, scan the basement. If it’s coming in through:
- Windows, foundation, floor, walls: This is probably because the water table is too high and/or heavy rains. If this is the case, the water probably won’t stop rising until the weather changes.
Shut off power to the basement if the water depth allows for safety. Then, move your belongings to higher ground.
- Plumbing or appliances: Is your water heater or washer spewing water? How about the hoses and the pipes that connect to these appliances? If so, shut off water to the broken fixture straight away.
If you are not sure which fixture is broken but still suspect plumbing to be the culprit, shut off water to your entire home.
- Floor Drain: Usually, this means there’s backup in the city sewer line, an issue with your home drainage system, or that you have a faulty sump pump. No matter the source of the problem, if the water is coming from the floor drain, get a plumber to come on-site. You’ll have to call your local water and sewage department if the problem comes from the municipal sewer system.
Start Salvaging Belongings
Unplug all the electronics in the basement before you start salvaging your belongings. And, even if you think the risk of getting electrocuted is very low, be sure to wear rubber boots and gloves when you enter the basement.
After you unplug the electronics, move your stuff to higher ground. If the water is still rising, you may not be able to save everything, so you will probably need to prioritize.
Which items will be the most difficult to replace? Personally, I started out with family keepsakes and important documents such as deeds, titles, and financial records, and then I moved onto old electronics.
Dry the Basement
To prevent mold growth, you need to dry your basement as soon as the flooding stops. If you let the water sit there for too long, it may lead to long-term damage. If the standing water is relatively shallow, you can remove it with buckets and mops.
If it’s too deep, you can use:
- Wet-Dry Vacuum Cleaner: If there is deep standing water in just a small area of your basement, a wet-dry vac is probably the best option. If you don’t have a wet-dry vac, you should be able to rent one at your local hardware store.
- Submersible pump: If most of your basement is flooded with deep standing water, it’s best to use a submersible pump. You can buy or rent one at a pool supply store or hardware store.
Once you remove the standing water, the basement will still be damp. To speed things up, you should:
- Open any windows: This will help the moisture escape.
- Set up space heaters: The water will evaporate faster if you use space heaters. However, it’s best to use them in combination with a dehumidifier.
- Set up fans: Position the fans so that they are blowing toward the stairs or through the windows.
Unless you are willing to risk mold and other issues, some items are beyond saving. They include:
- Fabrics that aren’t washed and dried within 48 hours.
- Electronics and appliances that were damaged by water.
- Drenched upholstered furniture, unless you have it professionally cleaned.
- Drywall, carpeting, and rugs that have been submerged in water.
Tips For Preventing Mold Growth After a Basement Flood
- Clean the floor and the walls with a water and bleach solution. Let it dry, then repeat.
- Use warm, soapy water to clean fabrics and furniture that came in contact with water.
- Get a mold control product and wipe down all exposed areas.
A flooded basement can be scary, but there are steps you can take to mitigate the problem. If you act quickly, you will save your belongings and prevent long-term damage. To learn how you can prevent basement floods in the future, it’s best to consult a water damage restoration contractor.