What to do if your basement floods!

Posted by Matt Buchanan

Basements are notoriously difficult to waterproof, but sometimes water issues aren’t localized or easily manageable. Foundation issues or water line problems can cause a full-scale basement flood, ruining your personal property and damaging your home. Whether or not you’ve ever experienced water issues in your home’s basement, you should know what to do when flooding occurs.

If your basement contains electrical lines, do not enter areas with standing water. Immediately contact a flood recovery company or a qualified electrician to keep yourself safe. You should also consider potential biological dangers. If the water came from a backed-up sewage drain, for instance, you will need appropriate safety gear in order to enter the area. Wear rubber gloves to keep bacteria off of your skin and wash yourself thoroughly with antibacterial soap as soon as you leave your basement.

Identify the source of the flooding. If you have a burst pipe or another water line issue, locate your home’s water line and turn it off immediately. Ideally, you should locate your water line before flooding occurs; you can contact your city water department to find the exact location of your shutoff valve.

If your basement is flooding from rainwater, try to keep the water in a single location by using buckets, Shop-Vacs and other tools. However, remember to keep any electrical cords away from the water. When in doubt, wait for professional help before running an electric vacuum or other device in a flooded area. Move your personal belongings out of the basement and call a flood restoration company as quickly as you can. Take pictures of the flooding and call your insurance company to find out whether you can apply for a claim. Many homeowner insurance policies carry some flood coverage, but the terms of this coverage varies greatly from one policy to the next. Coverage often depends on the source of the flooding; check your policy documents for more information.

Get some antibacterial dish soap and clean any flooded carpets after removing standing water. Don’t use commercial floor cleaners, bleach or detergents at first, since some cleaning products leave behind a residue that is beneficial to mold spores. You might need to replace your carpet if you smell a musty or smell after it dries out. Get a professional carpet cleaning service to treat your carpets and rugs as soon as possible and be sure to let the cleaners know that your basement flooded.

If your basement floods consistently, visit your local hardware store and invest in a few cheap water alarms. Set these up where water comes into your basement. If you’re handy, you can also pick up special hydraulic cement, green board and other materials to waterproof your basement.

Don’t wait until the next time your basement floods to prepare an emergency response plan. Find a reputable flood recovery company and make sure that all of your family members know who to call if and when flooding occurs.


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About Matt Buchanan

I grew up in Irving, TX and left for Nashville, TN for college. After college I lived in Washington, DC and then in Cairo, Egypt. After coming back to the states, I spent a couple of years back in Dallas before moving with my wife to Denver!
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