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Dealing with a basement flood is no fun. Since basements are often the lowest point in houses, they tend to the area of your home that floods during a water emergency. Basements might flood because of an interior problem, such as a busted pipe, or because of a weather-related cause such as a heavy rainstorm or melting snow.
If you notice that your basement is flooding, try to stay calm. Here are the steps you’ll need to take to restore your basement.
Shut off power/water
If the flood is a result of a plumbing issue, attempt to shut off your water. If it is a result of a weather-related cause, find a way to turn the power off in your basement to prevent electrical shocks. Never step foot into standing water while power is on. If you can’t find a way to safely turn off your water or power, contact a plumber or electrician.
Contact your insurance company
If you have flood insurance, contact your insurance company to let them know of the damages. Your insurance company may be able to help cover some of the damage, such as covering the cost of a water clean-up company or by covering the cost of some of the damaged items.
Wear protective gear
Before you enter the flooded area, make sure to put on protective gear such as boots and gloves. If there is a chance of mold or mildew damage, you might also want to put on a face mask. Remember that the floor in the area is going to be slippery and that there might be items laying in the water that you can’t see. If the water is several feet deep, you may want to call in a specialist instead of wading in yourself.
Check your drains
If you have a draining system in your basement, check to make sure that it isn’t clogged. You’re going to want to keep the drain open to help drain the water.
Remove the water
Even if you do have drains in your basement, you’re going to want to find a way to quickly remove the water. If there is only a minimal amount of water, you might be able to soak it up with a mop. If there is a larger amount of water, you’ll need a wet/dry vacuum. You should also check to make sure your sump pump is working properly. Sump pumps help pump water out and away from your foundation. Several different models of sump pumps are compared here.
Move items outside
Start to move items outside, except for any electrical items. Leave electrical items, such as any televisions, to dry in your basement and contact an electrician to assess the damage before turning them back on.
It is best to place items outside in the sunlight to dry. If placing them outside isn’t possible, place them in a garage. Remove items from any cardboard boxes and get rid of the boxes (bacteria tend to grow on wet cardboard). Allow the items plenty of time to dry and assess for mild and mold damage. If large furniture items remain wet after 48-hours, toss them, because they will likely develop mold.
Remove any carpet
Wet carpet prevents the flooring underneath the carpet from drying and it can develop mold. If you have any carpets or rugs in your basement, remove them and toss them. While it is sometimes possible to save carpet, most of the time it is better to replace it. Consider replacing the carpet with tiles or laminate flooring, because these types of floors will be easier to clean up if your basement ever floods again.
Ventilate the area
Once everything is out of the basement (except for electrical items – remember, let them be!), give your basement time to dry. Open any doors or windows to help with the drying process. Fans around the room can help circulate air and speed up the drying process. If possible, turn on a dehumidifier to help get rid of moisture.
Wash down floors/walls
Once everything is dry, wash floors and walls to get rid of any dirt left behind from the flood. If you discover any wet drywall, remove it to prevent mold damage.
A basement flood can be devastating and expensive. There is a chance that items within your basement will need to be thrown out, plus you might end up needing to make interior repairs. Don’t be afraid of contacting a specialist to help you assess the damage.