7 Things You Need to Do if Your Basement Floods

Posted On Monday, 12 February 2024 15:07

Of all the things that can go wrong, a flooded basement can be one of the most devastating. Not only can it ruin carpet and drywall, but it can damage appliances, furniture, and personal belongings. 

All is not lost if you discover your basement has flooded. Whether it’s due to a torrential storm, a broken pipe, or a backed-up drain, there are things you should do as soon as you realize your basement is filled with water.

Contact a Professional

One of the first things you should do is contact a professional. A water damage restoration expert can help you clean up the water and dry things out to prevent the development of mold. Even if you ultimately end up deciding to do the cleanup on your own, they may be able to provide you with advice, like where to look for mold or how to increase the air circulation in your basement to dry things out.

You may also want to contact an electrician before you go downstairs to assess the damage. If things are still wet, all that water can damage outlets and electrical boxes. Water can be a good conductor of electricity, depending on what it contains, which could make entering your basement downright dangerous without the okay from an electrician.

Document the Damage

Although you may be tempted to start cleaning up your basement right away, you should take some time to document the damage. Take photographs of the area and create a catalog of personal belongings, furniture, and appliances that have been damaged by water, along with how badly. It will help with the next step—contacting your insurance.

Contact Your Insurance

If your basement floods, you'll want to contact your insurance company as soon as you can communicate the extent of the damage. Your insurance will help cover things like flooding due to:

  Burst pipes
  Broken appliances
  Localized overflow

That is, as long as the flooding wasn't caused by negligence over time. For example, if your sink overflowed due to an accident, they may help cover the damage. If it overflowed due to a persistent clog that you haven't taken care of, they may not.

Keep in mind that it’s also possible that your insurance won’t cover the damage at all. If your basement flooded due to a natural cause, like a hurricane, or a sewer backup from pipes that aren't on your property, they may not pay out.

It’s always worth talking to your insurance. Even if they don’t cover the damage, they may be able to provide you with next steps.

Move Important Items to a Dry Area

As soon as you know it’s safe to do so, you should move important items to a dry area. For example, you’ll want to bring boxes of photos upstairs, or you may want to slide wooden furniture to another area of the basement that’s dry. The less time your belongings spend wet, the less likely they are to be permanently damaged, and the less likely they are to grow mold.

Then, do yourself a favor. Know what items you should never store in the basement and find a new place to keep them. That way they won’t get damaged, should your basement flood again.

Items to keep out of the basement include:

•  Perishable food
  Fragile fabrics, like a wedding dress
•  Paper items, like files
  Irreplaceable mementos

Get Rid of the Water

Once you’ve saved what you can, you’ve got to get rid of the water.

If your sump pump is still working, it will eventually get rid of all the water, but it could take a long time. If you have a lot of water in the basement, you might have to rent or buy a pump to purge the space of water. You can find gasoline-powered pumps that can get rid of the water, even if the electricity is out. A good old-fashioned bucket can do the trick too!

Then, you'll want to mop up the excess water or use a wet/dry vac. Your goal is to get rid of as much of the water as possible, as quickly as possible.

Speed Up the Drying Process

Just because your basement looks dry doesn’t mean it is dry. Items can stay moist for a very long time, and the longer your basement stays moist, the more likely it is to grow mold.

It’s important to dry out your basement after you have removed the water. Air circulation is key. Remove all of the water-damaged items that you can to a well-ventilated area, like a garage or back patio space. Open any windows you have in your basement and set up fans to circulate the air. A dehumidifier can also make short work of lingering moisture, as can running the air conditioner.

Your goal is to get everything bone dry so it doesn’t grow mold. Use a simple solution of vinegar and water to help kill any lingering mildew, mold, or bacteria.

Prevent it From Happening Again

Dealing with a flooded basement is a nightmare that you don't want to repeat if you can help it. Once you’ve got your basement back, you’ll want to think of ways to keep it from happening again.

A few ways to prevent dealing with a flooded basement again include:

  Keep storm drains clear
  Direct water from your gutters away from your foundation
  Cover window wells
  Repair cracks in the foundation and around windows
  Install an appropriate sump pump for your space
  Regularly test for proper drainage of the floor drains

It’s also not a bad idea to install a flood sensor. It's a small device that can be placed near baseboards to detect moisture. It will alert you so you can catch any flooding issues right away.

Dealing with a flooded basement isn’t one of those things you should put off. It’s important to take care of it immediately to prevent long-term damage and potential molding issues. Whether you hire a professional or you do it all yourself, these tips will help you dry out your basement fast.

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