Feb 13, 2020 0

What to Do When You Have a Flooded Basement

A flooded basement almost always occurs without warning and can leave any homeowner feeling frustrated and helpless. Worse, flooding can occur in virtually any home with a basement, including homes that have no prior history of such disasters. As a result, flooding of this kind can be one of the biggest challenges any homeowner can face, since water can be one of the most destructive forces on earth.

As anyone who’s ever experienced this problem can attest, a flooded basement can cause thousands of dollars in damage, destroy precious family heirlooms, and potentially create health risks for humans and pets. Naturally, you will want to get in and take care of any flooding as soon as the problem manifests, but it’s important to avoid rushing in without a plan. Before proceeding, it’s helpful to take stock of the risks so that you can avoid unnecessary danger.

Safety First

Before taking any sort of action, you should first try to identify any potential dangers. It’s important to remember that any level of standing water could create a risk for electrical shock if the water comes into contact with wiring or outlets. While it might be tempting to try to access some of your possessions right away, rushing in could make a bad situation even worse.

Eliminating Power Hazards

Start by making sure that the power is turned off. If you can get access to your main electrical panel without stepping into the water, then do so. Regardless, we recommend contacting an electrician to come out and assess the situation and determine whether it’s safe to enter.

If the flooded basement is the result of a storm or other environmental damage, do not enter. In those circumstances, it’s common for electrical systems to be damaged, increasing the risk of electric shock in unforeseen ways.

In addition, we recommend that you inspect your furnace or water heater if they’re in the flooded area. It’s important to ensure that they haven’t been impacted by the water and that there are no potential gas leaks.  


If Your Basement is Safe to Enter

Even if your basement is judged to be safe for entry, you should still exercise caution:

  • Avoid touching any wires or electrical appliances
  • Try not to touch metal pipes or other metal objects
  • Wear rubber gloves and boots. Wading boots are a preferred option
  • Be mindful that water could be contaminated with sewage or any chemicals that may have been stored in the area


Identify the Source of the Problem

Your next step will be to identify the source of the flooding. Of course, most basement flooding is the result of a failed sump pump or pipe leaks. But flooding can also occur as a result of heavy rains and other natural disasters. With those natural events, there is little you can do other than move precious belongings to higher ground. However, there are steps you should take if the flooding is being caused by pipes or other system breakdowns.

  • When a pipe is broken, or dishwasher or water heater lines are leaking, turn off the shut off valve to end the leak
  • If your plumbing is the issue, but you can’t find the leak, turn off your home’s water. Your main shut off valve is typically located near your home’s utilities - water heater, furnace, etc... 
  • Contact a plumber so that the problem can be identified and repaired before hiring a restoration company. 


Salvage Any Accessible Belongings

If your basement has been assessed as safe for entry, you will want to remove any important belongings. That includes any electronics that have not yet gotten wet, as well as vital documents (deeds, property titles, finance records, passports, etc.) and family heirlooms, photos, or other items of sentimental value. Again, wear safety attire and make sure that you’re not putting yourself at risk for belongings. Property can be replaced; you cannot. 


Contact a Local, Reliable, Full Service Restoration Contractor

Once the immediate water intrusion has stopped, you will want to get the water extracted and begin the dry out process as soon as possible. The longer your basement remains wet or damp, the more damage it may cause and the higher the risk that mold or bacteria could eventually become a serious problem.

Of course, water extraction and structural drying can be a big job, so it’s often wise to get professional help. We recommend contacting your local cleaning and restoration company for water extraction, cleanup, and to accurately dry the structure. Their expertise can help to ensure that your basement is properly dried, cleaned up, tested for moisture, and even deodorized.

See Also

Do I need a restoration company to extract water and clean up or can I do it myself?


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