June 1st marks the start of hurricane season, so be prepared for a few basement floods as time goes on. If a powerful storm drowns your basement, it can quickly become overwhelming and dangerous. But knowing how to respond can keep the damage under control and stop mold from forming.
Here’s what to do if your basement floods.
Assess the Safety Hazards
If you have an electrical outage or a gas leak, call 911 immediately. If not, turn off the power to any appliances in the basement so they don’t pose a fire hazard during your inspection.
Flooded basements usually contain hidden dangers, such as broken glass or nails. So avoid walking through standing water if you can.
And don’t try to examine any furniture. Furnishings have a high potential for mold growth, and you risk breathing in the spores.
Determine the Cause
This can be tricky because there are many possibilities for what could have gone wrong.
First, check for broken pipes. If you notice a leak, call a plumber right away.
If pipes aren’t an issue, look for blocked drains. Water that’s coming from a specific area, such as your washing machine or toilet, is likely the result of a blockage.
Stop the Water Flow
Sometimes there’s too much water for it all to drain out through your gutters. If that’s the case, shut off the main water supply.
Then redirect the remaining liquid away from your foundation. Maybe create an artificial pond on one side of your yard. When the water’s resting here, it won’t damage any more of your property.
Water Extraction and Drying
A flooded basement can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks to dry out. This is dependent on the size of your basement, how much water is in it, and how well-ventilated it is.
If you’re feeling a bit stuck and unsure what to do, try figuring out which approach feels better for you: waiting it out, calling a professional, or taking matters into your own hands.
DIY Methods for Water Extraction
The easiest way to tackle basement flooding is with a wet-dry vacuum. It’ll remove water and any debris from your basement. And it does so quickly.
Just know this method can be a bit messy. It’s also unlikely that the vacuum will get rid of all the moisture in your basement.
Supplement this method with fans and a dehumidifier. These instruments will help extract the moisture your vacuum can’t reach.
If you don’t have a vacuum, use towels or mops to soak up the water. It’s slower than the previous method, but it’ll get the job done.
Professional Water Extraction Services
Water extraction services will dry the area faster and more efficiently than you can. However, it’ll cost you a few hundred dollars.
While the price may be cringeworthy, remember that professional services are insured and bonded. So if something goes wrong with their work in your home, you won’t have to pay for any repairs that might be necessary.
Try to find a basement waterproofing service that offers drying courtesies. Your basement will be clean and you’ll get the benefit of less future damage caused by flooding.
Clean and Sanitize
Wash anything the flood water touches with soap and water. Remember to wear protective gear and make sure the area is well-ventilated to limit the spread of bacteria.
Use a solution of one cup of bleach and three cups of water to sanitize all surfaces. This will prevent mold growth.
Don’t forget to clean your home’s HVAC system too. You might have to contact a professional for this step.
Repair Structural Damage
If you’re lucky, your basement will only be waterlogged and not completely destroyed. But basement floods usually come with severe structural damage. If that’s the case, you’ll need to restore your property before you can even think about basement waterproofing.
The sump pump may have been ruined. Or water could have penetrated your walls, and there might be holes in your foundation that need patching.
The cost of repairing structural damage will depend on the severity of the situation. Hire a professional contractor to assess the damage and help you decide what repairs are necessary.
Insurance and Financial Considerations
If you have a flood-specific policy, it may cover some or all of the damage.
Documenting damages for insurance claims can be time-consuming, but it’s worth doing right. Take lots of photos and videos in natural lighting. If your basement is particularly dark, have a friend shine a flashlight on the area where you’ll be taking photographs.
Besides pictures, you’ll need to get repair quotes from several contractors. You can hire an adjuster to do this for you.
It also helps to get an appraisal of your home after the flood. Present this to your insurer to show that the value of your property has decreased.
With the right evidence, you’re sure to get the compensation you need to make your home livable again. But if your insurance company is giving you a hard time, seek financial assistance from FEMA. They’re the federal agency that provides assistance to victims of natural disasters.
Get Back to Normal After Your Basement Floods
After your insurance payout, make sure you soften the damage from future basement floods. Waterproofing is one of the best ways to protect the lower levels of your home. You can shield all the items you store in your basement, as well as your home’s foundation.
But when you’re just getting over a flood, it’s hard to think about anything except the mess. So turn to our home and garden section for more property management tips that won’t cost a cent.