5 Steps to Recover from Basement Flooding
Basement flooding is no stranger to most American homeowners. In fact, statistics from the National Flood Insurance Program reveal that home flooding is the number one disaster in the country. Insurance companies are swamped with over $3 billion in flood damage claims every single year.
What are common causes of basement flooding?
No basement is safe from flooding. Being an underground hole, the basement is exposed to the elements for longer durations than any other part of the home. Rainwater that saturates the ground around the foundation is notorious for pooling under ideal—and destructive—conditions.
The perfect environments that lead to pooling water around the perimeter of the home include yards that fail to be effectively graded (or sloped) and a lack of functional gutters. Plus, leaky foundations inevitably contribute to flooding in the lowest level of homes.
After a heavy rainfall, the moisture in the wet ground seeps through foundation cracks. These minute gaps, when unsealed, are entryways for rainwater and snowmelt. Eventually, the basement transforms into a damp, moisture-filled space. Water damage occurs and mold colonies flourish.
Unmaintained gutters also lead to rainwater pooling around the home’s foundation and finding a path into the basement. The natural debris that blocks a gutter causes rainwater to spill over the gutters’ rims and down the home’s siding. The consequence is standing water around the perimeter of the home.
Additionally, a lawn that is improperly sloped leads rainwater toward, instead of away from, the property’s foundation. Naturally, when heavy rains hit the landscape, the water is directed toward the home, leading to pooling water that eventually floods the basement.
Manmade disasters, too, are known to wreak havoc in the basement. Burst plumbing pipes, leaky appliances, like water heaters or water tanks, and loose or broken washing machine water supply hoses are all unanticipated causes of flooding in the basement.
What are the five steps to repair a flooded basement?
Step 1: Proceed with caution
Electricity and water are a lethal mix. When water in the flooded basement reaches the level of the electrical outlets, electrical shock is a possibility for anyone who wades into the water.
To prevent dangerous electrocution or other hazards, cut the power to the home before beginning the recovery process in the basement. If the breaker box door is located in the basement, call the utility company and request that the electricity be shut off.
Flooded gas appliances can be deadly. In homes powered by gas services, it is critical to shut off the gas via the gas main outside the home prior to entering the flooded basement. Experts recommend having utility company professionals turn off the gas, unless the situation is an emergency.
Step 2: Pump out the water
A skillful approach is required when pumping floodwater out of the basement. Removing water too hastily can disrupt the existing pressure between the basement walls and the saturated soil surrounding the foundation, causing the foundation walls to crack or cave inwards.
In instances where the basement flooding is minimal, the excess water can be suctioned out with a shop vac. If the basement is severely flooded with several feet of water, call a water damage restoration company, the fire department or basement waterproofing company to extract the water.
Step 3: Ventilate and dry the basement
Quickly drying the basement, ideally within 48 hours, prevents issues of mold growth. Accelerate the drying process by opening the basement windows, running a dehumidifier continuously and aerating the space with several powerful fans and air movers (which can be rented from local hardware stores).
Step 4: Salvage or remove affected belongings
Certain flood-affected goods can either be recovered or discarded. The US Environmental Protection Agency warns that any flood-damaged items that are organic or porous should be thoroughly dried within 48 hours. If not, mold spores will latch on—requiring these goods to be thrown out.
Materials that are susceptible to mold infestations include wood, carpeting, fabrics, upholstery and drywall. Once mold colonies take hold, usually within 48 hours of coming into contact with floodwaters, safely removing the spores is an impossibility. Consequently, these items should be tossed.
Electrical equipment, like switches, outlets and wiring, that are touched by floodwaters are no longer safe and should be replaced. The portions of drywall that remain above floodwater levels can be salvaged; drywall saturated with floodwater should be immediately replaced.
Step 5: Prevent future basement flooding
The final step in tackling a flooded basement is to prevent a re-occurrence of the catastrophe. Several tactics may be utilized to keep the basement dry. Install a sump pump, a battery-powered backup pump and a generator for maximum basement protection.
Maintain the gutter system, ensuring it is cleaned at least twice annually; downspouts should effectively direct water several feet away from the foundation. Slope the lawn so that it leads water to run down a path away from the foundation. Additionally, seal any and all existing foundation cracks.
When faced with a flooded basement, homeowners should immediately address the problem. A call to a licensed water damage restoration company will resolve the issue promptly.
Water Damage Restoration
Restoration professionals are experienced in dealing with water damage of all types. Skilled technicians swiftly and accurately assess the water damage, extract the excess water, thoroughly dry the premises, sanitize the affected areas and perform any necessary reconstruction services.
In the hazardous event the sewer backs up, homeowners should find reliable water damage restoration services. Professionals will arrive onsite quickly to apply microbial treatments, clean up and remediate sewage, remove stains and fully dry wet structures.