What To Do When Your Basement Floods
When you buy a home, you expect to deal with a certain amount of damage and maintenance each year. However, a flooded basement goes far beyond the annual repairs you typically anticipate. Not only are flooded basements destructive to both the structure and contents of the basement, but they can also be dangerous.
A flooded basement can leave even the handiest of homeowners feeling helpless and underwater, which is why we've put together this list of steps for dealing with a flooded basement both safely and effectively.
What Causes Basements To Flood?
There are several reasons why a basement might flood. These include:
- Heavy rainfall or snowmelt
- Burst or leaking pipes
- Leaking appliances
- Overflowing bathtub or toilet
- Water heater leak
- Backed-up drainage system
- Foundational cracks
- Sump pump malfunction
- Sewage system backup
These are just some of the many reasons why a basement might flood. While it is possible to prevent some of them with annual inspections of appliances and drainage systems, even the most prepared homeowners can end up dealing with a flooded basement.
Dangers Of A Flooded Basement
When a basement floods, there's bound to be some damage - whether it's furniture and other items being ruined by the water, or carpets and floors becoming waterlogged and generating mold growth. Property damage isn’t the only concern; flooded basements can also be dangerous to health and safety. Here are a few dangers that can occur when a basement floods:
1. The structural integrity of your home and foundation can become compromised due to severe flooding or untreated water damage.
2. Electrical shocks can occur if the floodwater comes into contact with wires or electrical components.
3. Floodwater can lead to system failure of appliances in the basement, such as HVACs, water heaters, and washers and dryers.
4. Unless the flooding comes from a broken supply line or another source of clean water, floodwater is often contaminated with harmful chemicals, bacteria, and other substances that can cause serious illness in humans and pets.
If you are worried or uncertain about any of these potential dangers when dealing with a flooded basement, the safest course of action is to contact a professional water damage restoration service.
How To Deal With A Flooded Basement
Because there are so many dangers that can arise when a basement floods, and due to the potential for secondary damage (such as mold growth), we recommend contacting professionals for the most effective remediation in any basement flooding situation. When dealing with moderate to severe floods, and floods that involve contaminated water, you should always call a qualified property restoration company to handle it.
If the flooding to your basement is not too severe, and you know you’re only dealing with clean water (officially referred to as Category 1 water), there are several steps you can take to help limit the damage.
Step 1: Shut Off The Power
Even a small amount of water can reach sources of electricity such as cords, wires, and floor outlets. Therefore, before locating the source of the flooding, be sure to shut off all power to the basement. If you are unsure how to shut off your power or cannot do so safely, contact an electrician or your utility company.
Step 2: Locate The Source of The Flooding
Once you are sure that the power in the basement is off, the next step is to locate the source of the flooding. It could be from any of the reasons listed above. Some flooding, such as a failed water heater, the homeowner can likely remedy themselves. However, if a pipe has burst or a drainage system has backed up, professional assistance will be required.
If you need to venture into the flooded area of the basement, be sure to wear proper personal protective equipment (PPE), such as protective rubber boots and gloves. If the flooding is higher than a pair of boots will protect against, it is best to contact a professional water extraction and drying service to handle your flooded basement cleanup.
Remember - floodwater can become dangerously contaminated depending on its source or if it has sat stagnant for a long time. Do not walk into or come in contact with potentially contaminated water.
Step 3: Remove Water
If you've been able to locate and stop the source of the flooding safely, the next step is to begin removing any sitting water. Utility pumps and wet vacuums are great for removing smaller amounts of water from a basement floor.
If the water in your basement is from an unsanitary source — no matter how much or how little water there is — it is best to leave the water extraction to a property damage restoration professional. They have the necessary PPE, proper equipment, and specialized containment methods for these circumstances.
Step 4: Dry Out The Basement
Even if the bulk of the floodwater has been removed, there is likely to be built-up humidity in the basement due to trapped moisture. Excessive moisture indoors can lead to further damage as well as mold and mildew growth. Dehumidifiers and fans can be used to continue drying out your basement and help restore normal humidity levels. Opening any basement windows (provided they are not the source of the flooding) can also help to air out the basement, but only if outdoor humidity levels are lower than those indoors.
Step 5: Clean
Once the water and humidity have been sufficiently dealt with, you can begin cleaning the basement and removing any items that may have been ruined by the flooding.
If you’ve called in a restoration professional, they will be able to advise you on what items may or may not be salvageable. If your flooded basement involved any level of contaminated water, the restoration company will also perform the necessary cleaning and antimicrobial application to eliminate potential health risks.
Step 6: Look For Mold and Mildew
Mold and mildew can lead to additional damage and affect the health of those living around it. It is important to look and see if mold has grown anywhere in the basement as a result of the flooding.
BELFOR offers mold removal and remediation services to safely and effectively deal with extensive mold growth should it occur.
Who To Call When Your Basement Floods?
Depending on the severity of the flooding to your basement and the cause and extent of damage, there are several professionals or services you may need to call, such as your home insurance provider, an electrician, a plumber, and a restoration company equipped for flooded basement cleanups.
Here at BELFOR, our water extraction and drying service include the following:
- Source Elimination
- Loss Mitigation
- Identifying Type and Extent of Damage
- Evaluating Loss
- Water Removal
- Antimicrobial Application