Learn what to do when you’re faced with a flooded basement.
When it rains, it pours – and floods! If your home has recently had a flooded basement, you may be at a loss on how to start taking care of the mess. Depending on the severity of the damage, it may not be as difficult as you think to clean up a small flooded basement. Let us help not only with your cleanup process, but also help you avoid some future flooded basement problems.
1. Contact your insurance provider
The first step you need to do is contact your insurance provider. Before you do any cleanup, they will instruct you on when an adjuster can come to your home to assess damage if it is covered under your policy. Then take pictures or videos of the damage. You can list the cost of the damages on ruined items in your home as you clean.
2. Pump out the water
Before you begin any work on your flooded basement, you need to be extremely careful. Get the water out before you go into the basement. Most likely, your electrical service panel is in the basement. Wear rubber boots or rain boots, and use a small plastic step stool or fiberglass step ladder to get to the service panel. Switch off all basement circuits.
If there is an excessive amount of water in your basement, start pumping it out with a wet/dry vac. Plug in the wet/dry vac upstairs, and keep the extension cord and vacuum cord out of the water. Be sure you’re not pumping out more than 2′ to 3′ of water per day. Draining out water too quickly can cause a pressure imbalance and may lead to your walls cracking or collapsing.
3. Remove any belongings from the basement
Remove furniture, rugs, bedding, clothing, electronics, etc. from the basement. Not only are they in the way, they need to get outside or in front of a fan as soon as possible to dry out and avoid the collection of mold. Photographs, books and important papers can be frozen and cleaned later when you have the time to properly clean them. Rinse any mud off the items and place in plastic bags. Freezing the items avoids further damage and prevents mold from forming until you can clean them with the care they need.
Electrical and gas appliances from a flooded basement should not be salvaged. Remove and replace any flooded outlets, switches, fixtures, wiring and gas-powered appliances that have suffered water damage.
4. Soak up excess water
Soak up as much excess water as you can. Use a wet/dry vac or mop to get the water off the ground. If the room is carpeted, it’s best that the carpet is removed and replaced once the floor has been dried. If it can’t be removed, it’s important that the water is dried and the carpet cleaned within 24 hours. Use a high-power shop fan and dehumidifier to dry out the carpet as much as possible after you’ve removed the excess water. Discourage mildew and odors by cleaning the carpet with a solution of 2 Tbs. bleach to 1 Gallon water.
5. Remove flooring and wall paneling
Vinyl or tile floors may need to be removed so you can dry subflooring. Wood floors should be dried gradually as to avoid any sudden cracking. Open any windows and doors to also help air out the area. Keep fans and dehumidifiers running as much as possible to help the drying process along. Carpet can be dried, but most of the time it will need to be replaced.
Paneling and drywall need your attention next. Drywall can suffer from water damage, but some of it can be salvaged. Remove any drywall below the flood level, as well as any insulation that’s wet. You can remove part of the wall-board and use a fan to blow inside to dry out the paneling.
6. Disinfect and clean
Finally, disinfect and clean all surfaces. Scrub surfaces with hot water and a heavy-duty cleaner. Follow with a disinfectant to kill all germs. For a homemade solution, mix 1/4 Cup chlorine bleach per gallon of water you will need to clean. You need to be sure surfaces are disinfected to avoid mold growth, which can lead to health problems for your family.
You may never feel like your home is the same again after a flooded basement. However, with some hard work you can at least get things back to normal. At the same time you’re cleaning, you can be preparing your home for any future floods. Buy shelving racks to keep your stuff off the ground. Plastic shelving units won’t be affected by water. Next, place valuables in plastic bins instead of cardboard boxes so that if they do get wet, they will be safe. Finally, install a pedestal or submersible sump pump to get water out of your basement if it floods again.