As we’ve seen in recent years, severe storms have become more common. It doesn’t take a hurricane like Ida to raise flood levels and wreak havoc on unprepared basements. If you’ve found yourself with a flooded basement, you may be wondering what to do about it. We put together this list to help explain what to do when your basement floods.
Get to safety
The first thing to do when your basement floods is to get yourself and anyone else in your home to a safe place. The flooding may not seem too bad, but looks can be deceiving. If there is a crack in your basement wall or foundation, it can potentially worsen and quickly allow more water inside. Therefore, you should avoid the basement until the rain or other cause of flooding has stopped.
Shut off power to the basement
Once things have calmed down, you can now begin to assess the basement flooding. The first step is to shut off power to the basement if any electrical wires have become submerged. Since the electrical box in many homes is in the basement, this may be difficult or dangerous. If you’re unsure how to shut off the basement electricity safely, call a professional. Your utility provider, basement flood experts, and electricians should all be able to shut off the electricity safely.
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Identify the source of the water leak
Now that it’s safe to enter the basement, you may want to try identifying the source of the leak. There can be many potential causes for a flooded basement, so this may be difficult. It will also depend on the severity of the storm or other causes of flooding. You can look at the walls for cracks, near windows for any openings, along the ceiling for pipes that may have burst, and more. Also consider whether your sump pump may have overflowed without a battery backup system. If the source of the leak isn’t clear, then focus on removing the water and repairing the basement.
Remove standing water
The longer water sits, the more damage it will do. So you want to work hard to remove it as soon as possible. The fastest way to do so is to use a submersible pump to suck the water outside of the house. These pumps can often be rented or purchased from hardware stores or contractors specializing in basement waterproofing and repair. If the flooding is not too severe, you may be able to get by with a mop and dehumidifier, which we will discuss later in this post.
Remove damaged materials and items
Once you’ve removed most of the standing water in your basement, then it’s time to remove damaged materials and items. Your goal is to get everything out of standing water. If something is soaking wet, remove it from the basement to help it dry out faster. If you have large pieces of furniture that are difficult to move, see if you can lift them onto foam or stone blocks for the time being. Soaking wet drywall should be removed up to 12” above the flood line. Soggy insulation behind the drywall? Toss it.
Dry out the basement
Now your basement is free of standing water and most of the wet or damaged items, but you’re not done yet. Now you want to do everything you can to increase airflow in the basement and completely dry it out. If the weather is dry outside, open the basement windows. Set up the largest fans you can find. A dehumidifier is essential, and you want to be sure to empty it as often as it fills up. Continue this effort until a professional runs moisture tests to confirm when the basement is completely dry.
Check for mold
While water sits in your basement, the humidity levels skyrocket. This humidity alone can create an environment for mold to grow. When mold grows on the surface, it’s easy to spot, but that’s not the issue. Mold can also grow inside insulation and on pipes. It’s important to ensure your basement is free of mold. Otherwise, your repair efforts are wasted. Any mold will continue to spread and become a larger problem down the road. A professional can provide a mold assessment to be sure. This involves a thorough visual inspection, surface samples, air samples, moisture tests, and more.
Repair the basement and source of the water leak
Once the basement is completely dry and free of mold, then it’s time to rebuild. Putting in new insulation and drywall is easy. What you want to be extra thorough with is addressing the cause of the flooding. Or else you could find yourself in this situation all over again. Fixing common basement leaks can be somewhat complicated and require specialized equipment. The fix may be sealing wall cracks, stabilizing bowed walls, repairing the foundation, or another intensive repair.
In any event, consult with a professional to have the job done correctly. After everything you’ve been through, you want this to be a once-in-a-lifetime event. Basement Waterproofing, Inc. of New York state has been in this business for over 39 years. We can identify where the moisture is coming from and come up with the best, most cost-effective basement waterproofing solution. We’re so sure that you will be happy with our work, that we provide a lifetime transferable warranty on the work we do for you. Contact us today at (800) 439-4951 to schedule a free, no-obligation home visit and consultation.