What to Do When Your Basement Floods

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Whether a basement flood is caused by a broken pipe, a failed sump pump or the result of extreme weather conditions, it needs to be dealt with immediately to prevent long-term and costly water damage to your home and property.

If your basement floods, follow the guidelines below. But remember, while there are some actions you can undertake yourself, for thorough, proper water damage restoration and safety, you need to call the professionals.

Safety First

Safety should always be a priority. Entering a wet basement can be dangerous and even deadly. Before stepping into a flooded basement consider the following issues:

  • Is there a risk of electrical shock? If the main electrical breaker box is located in the flooded basement, you need to contact your local power company or a certified electrician to turn off the power safely.
  • Do you smell gas? Gas leaks are dangerous and sometimes deadly. If you smell gas, get out of the house and call your gas utility company immediately.
  • Is the flood water contaminated? Sewage, chemicals and other pollutants in flood water pose a health risk to humans and animals. Avoid contact with contaminated flood water and any items that may have been in contact with it.
  • Is the flooded basement still structurally safe? If there is any question regarding the structural integrity of the flooded basement or the house above it, do not enter. Call for professional help.

 

How to Clean Up a Flooded Basement

Only if it's safe to enter, there are several things you can do to begin cleaning up your flooded basement yourself. But before you begin, remember the number one rule is always safety first. Wear protective clothing, safety glasses and heavy-duty rubber gloves and boots as you inspect and clean the basement. Make sure the space is well-ventilated in order to speed the drying process.

Remove and restore: The faster your personal items can be removed from water, the better the chances they can be repaired and restored. Remove the items from the basement and dry off any remaining dampness to reduce the possibility of harmful mold growth.

Extract water: If the flood water is only a couple inches deep, you may be able to remove it using a wet/dry vacuum or portable sump pump. Do not use a regular vacuum cleaner because it is unsafe to do so and will ruin the motor. A wet/dry vacuum and sump pump can be rented on a daily or weekly basis from most local equipment rental outlets. However, if more than several inches of water has accumulated from the flooding, you need to call in professional water damage and water remediation professionals.

Remove rugs: Any area rugs in the flooded areas need to be immediately removed and dried out. If possible, hang rugs outdoors or call professional rug and carpet cleaners. If the basement has wall-to-wall carpeting, it most probably needs to be removed. Water can not only damage carpet fibres but also the glue, backing, padding and under layers. Leaving carpet in place will encourage the growth of harmful mold. Do not attempt to remove water-logged wall-to-wall carpeting yourself—this is a job for professionals.

Install a dehumidifier and fans: To prevent the growth of mold after basement flooding, it's essential to keep the overall level of humidity in the area as low as possible. If the weather is favorable, open the windows and install a dehumidifier and fans. This will increase ventilation, lower the humidity levels, and speed up the drying process. For heavily flooded basements, however, you need professional water damage remediation with specialized fans and drying equipment.

Clean and disinfect: After the water is extracted and the basement thoroughly dried, the whole space needs to be cleaned and disinfected. In addition, anything the flood waters touched but you were able to salvage, needs to be carefully washed and sterilized to prevent contamination and mold growth.

Keep an inventory list: As each item is removed from the flooded basement and treated for water damage, add it to an inventory list. Keep a detailed record of all that was damaged in the flood, and keep estimates and receipts from any restoration or repair procedures. These documents will support any insurance claims you plan to make.

ServiceMaster has been helping homes and businesses recover from water damage for more than 65 years. When your basement floods, call the professionals at ServiceMaster Restore to handle the water extraction, drying and if necessary, professional mold removal.