8 Steps To Take When Your Basement Floods

A heavy storm can dump a deluge of rain and flood your basement. After the initial shock of seeing a basement covered in water, many homeowners struggle with, “What do I do next?” The waterproofing experts at My Foundation Repairs can help you figure out what to do after your basement floods.

1 – Don’t Rush Into a Flooded Basement

residential waterproofing
Turn off electricity before stepping into a flooded basement.

When you see inches – or even worse, feet – of water in your basement damaging your home and possessions, we understand your gut instinct might tell you to rush into the water to try and save your valuable items. Don’t. Rushing into the floodwaters could be a deadly mistake.

Flood water and electricity do not mix. Don’t step into the room if the water may be in contact with electrical outlets, cords, or appliances. Electrocution risks are elevated during floods. 

If you’re able to access your circuit breaker (and it’s not located in the basement), turn off power in your home. If you can’t shut off the power, you may need to contact an electrician or your utility provider to shut the power. 

2 – Start Removing the Water

boots standing in flooded basement water
Depending upon the depth of the water, you may need to use a wet vac or submersible pump to remove the water.

Once the electricity is disconnected, the next step is to remove the standing water. If your basement has a working drain, make sure it’s clear of debris.

A few inches of water can typically be removed with a wet vac. If you don’t have one (or aren’t able to borrow from family or friends), you can usually rent one. However, remember to keep electrical cords away from the water. 

If the flood water is deeper, you may need to rely on submersible pumps to help remove the water. In extreme cases, it’s best to contact professional water clean up services, who have high-grade pumps and equipment to tackle the problem. 

Once the majority of the water is removed, towels can be used to sop up the remaining water.

3 – Dry The Area

White fan on hardwood floor used to dry flood water
After removing flood water, rely on fans and dehumidifiers to dry your basement.

Damp, moist areas can become breeding grounds for mold and mildew. To prevent this the area must be dried. Use dehumidifiers and fans to dry the area. Run your air conditioning constantly. 

For the best air circulation results when drying your basement, keep dehumidifiers six to eight inches away from the wall.

4 – Sort Your Possessions

While the area is drying, this is a good time to start sorting your possessions to see what can be dried and salvaged and what must be thrown away.

Cardboard holds onto moisture, so if any boxes got wet in the floodwater, toss them immediately. It’s always better to use plastic boxes or bins for basement storage.

Brown hardback book damaged by flood water
Sort through your possessions to see what can be salvaged and what should be thrown away.

Likewise, if your basement drywall has been damaged by water, it also will need to be torn out. Any place water can linger increases the likeness your basement will develop mold and mildew.

Wipe and dry non-porous items.  For towels, fabrics and other washable material, run them through a laundry cycle. However, please remember in addition to flooding your basement (and likely that of your neighbors), a heavy rain can overwhelm your city’s water treatment plant capacities. It’s best to wait a few hours after a serious storm before doing laundry in order to reduce the strain on your city facilities. 

Evaluate non-washable items, like books or electronics to see if they can be salvaged. If you’d like to save books that were only minimally damaged by water, consider using cat litter to get rid of the musty smell.

To prevent mold and mildew from growing on damp paper items, consider putting them in the freezer. This will stop mildew growth and give you time to deal with the papers later.

5 – Clean and Disinfect The Area

Green mop, green cloth and green bucket on hardwood floor
Clean and disinfect your basement floors after a flood.

Hard flooring surfaces, such as tile, linoleum or concrete, can be scrubbed with a combination of one cup bleach to one gallon of water. While scrubbing the floor, make sure the room is ventilated and you wear protective gloves and eyewear. 

Scrubbing with bleach will help prevent mold and mildew growth in your basement.

6 – Figure Out How Water Entered Your Basement

clogged gutter
Clogged gutters can lead to flooding.

You’ll need to know how the water got into your home. The first place to start is outside.

Check your gutters and downspouts. Make sure gutters are clear of leaves, twigs and other debris and can adequately funnel water to your downspouts. Ensure your downspouts are all connected and discharging water far enough away from your home.

Check around your basement windows and window wells to ensure those areas are tightly sealed.

If there are no immediately visible areas of access for the water, or if it’s clear the water came through foundation cracks or up through your floor, it’s time to consult professionals.

7 – Have My Foundation Repair Contractors Waterproof Your Basement

Interior waterproofing system from ECP
IMy Foundation Repair contractors can install an interior waterproof system from ECP to keep your basement dry.

Our nationwide network of contracting professionals are experts at basement waterproofing. Foundation waterproofing methods can be exterior or interior (or a combination of both).

First, there is sealed waterproofing from the outside the structure. This type of waterproofing (or basement sealing) collects surface and subsurface water and directs it away from the home. Often times this incorporates a coating that seals the foundation directly along with a French drain tile system that lies next to the foundation. 

Next, there is “waterproofing” from inside the structure. This type of waterproofing should actually be called water management or water control. When using interior waterproofing you are actually collecting water that has entered your basement and sending it to a sealed sump pit system.

Sealed interior drainage systems are a combination of a sealed sump pit and a sealed drain tile system that locks moisture and soil gases below the basement floor, keeping your basement dry.

My Foundation Repair experts provide free in-home estimates and can detail the ideal waterproofing solution for your home.

8 – Relax And Enjoy Your Dry Basement

Happy family of mom, dad, son and newborn relaxing on a bed
With a basement waterproofing system installed by My Foundation Repairs, you can relax.

After the stress and hassle of dealing with a flooded basement, it’s sometimes difficult to take time after to relax. However, once your basement has been waterproofed by My Foundation Repair’s network of contract experts, you can rest easy knowing you have a dry, secure basement.

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