Cleaning a Flooded Basement: How to Clean and Dry a Flooded Basement
Homeowners generally view basements as a wonderful feature to have in a home. Unfinished basements offer extra space for storage. Finished basements provide additional living space and enhance property value. Unfortunately, basements are prone to flooding as well. Basements can often flood due to a variety of reasons, and this creates an incredible and expensive mess for the homeowner to clean up. Regardless of whether you have a finished or unfinished basement, cleaning a flooded basement should be a top priority that receives your undivided attention. After all, water in your basement can destroy your stored items, furnishings and more. It can also lead to mold growth and can cause other costly issues for you to contend with. When not properly addressed, it can even detract from property value. To properly clean a flooded basement, you should follow a few important steps.
Causes of Basement Flooding
There are many causes of basement flooding, some of the most common include:
- Heavy Rains and Storms: Heavy downpour can cause water levels to rise drastically. The rising water will soon form streams that flow into your basement causing flooding. Raging storms can also over saturate the ground with water, and hydrostatic pressure is likely to push groundwater through porous concrete or foundation cracks into the basement.
- Plumbing problems: Burst pipes and hot water tank failures can cause basement flooding.
- Damaged sewer lines: Clogged or blocked sewer lines result to sewage back up, which can flood the basement with wastewater. This can pose serious health risks; therefore, you need to contact a damage restoration company immediately.
- Leaking or clogged downspouts
- Sump pump failure
- Failure of foundation drains
- Leaks from basement doors or windows
WHAT TO DO IN THE EVENT OF FLOODING
You need to take necessary action immediately you notice any signs of flooding. If you experience flooding, there are crucial things you need to understand:
- Before moving into the basement to assess the situation, you need to turn off power to avoid electrical shocks. It’s also extremely necessary to shut off the gas. If you are unable to shut off these power sources, contact a professional electrician.
- No matter the source of the flooding water, wear protective gears like gloves, boots, a mask and a chest wader before you enter the basement. More importantly, note that the flooded area is likely to be slippery, hence move around cautiously.
- After entering the flooded basement, the first step is to identify the source of water. In case the flooding is caused by burst pipes, cut off the water supply to the basemen then check whether the basement drain is clogged. Unclog it to assist in draining the flood water.
- To begin with, you need to eliminate water from the basement. If the amount of water is small, use a sump pump or a pool pump to send water away from the basement. It’s advisable to call basement flooding cleanup experts who can help you drain flood water faster in case the amount of water is overwhelming to your pumping system.
- After the removal of water, the next step is to dry the damaged items including the carpets. Preferably, dry out the items on the sun for about 2 days, and in case they are still wet, you need to consider disposing them to avoid the growth of mold. Clean up floors and walls and keep the basement well aerated to make it dry faster.
How to Clean a Flooded Basement
Remove the Standing Water
One of the most important first steps to take when dealing with a flood in your basement is to remove the standing water. Many individuals will file an insurance claim for a flooded basement, and they will use the insurance proceeds to pay for a professional water damage restorations team to do this work. Professionals will use powerful extraction equipment to quickly remove standing water from the home. If you attempt to remove the water on your own, you may use a sump pump or other extraction equipment. If there is only a small amount of standing water in the space, you may also use a mop, towels or a bucket to remove the water.
Dry Out the Area
It is not enough to simply remove standing water when you are dealing with a flooded basement. When water enters your home, it increases humidity levels. High humidity leaves make the space ripe for mold growth to develop. The longer the air remains humid, the more susceptible the space is to mold growth. With this in mind, you must develop a strategy for dehumidifying the air. Professionals will use powerful dehumidifying fans to accomplish this goal. If you are taking a do-it-yourself approach to dehumidifying your space, you may rent or purchase similar equipment for your space. These fans may need to operate for several days in some cases. You generally need to have a measuring device available to check the humidity level in the air. Ensure that the humidity level has dropped to a reasonable level before you remove the fans and begin repairing the damage.
Repair the Water Damage
After all signs of water damage and moisture have been removed from the space, you can assess the damage and make a repair plan. Standing water can leave behind stains, damaged drywall and furnishings, damaged electrical components and more. Generally, you need to address each issue in the home. When damage is widespread, an insurance claim can provide you with funds needed to repair the damage, and you likely will be able to afford a contractor’s services for this endeavor. If you attempt to do the work on your own, it may take you many weeks or longer to fully address the scope of the damage. In some cases, furnishings, cabinetry and more may be unsalvageable and may need to be fully replaced.
Test the Area for Mold
Mold requires two conditions to thrive, and these are darkness and moisture. A flooded basement is an ideal environment for mold to grow. Mold can begin to grow in as little as 48 hours. If the floodwaters contained sewage, the time could decrease to as little as 24 hours. With this in mind, if humidity and moisture were present in your home for more than a few days, it is imperative to test the area for mold growth. There are several do-it-yourself mold testing kits that you can use to determine if this substance is present yourself. Professional mold testing is another option. In addition to testing, keep your eyes open for mold development in the coming weeks. Mold can be unhealthy and even toxic, and it requires professional remediation for the best results. If mold is present, you may need to halt repair efforts to deal with the mold remediation process.
Tips for Cleaning Up a Flooded Basement
- It is important to act fast to be able to reduce repair costs.
- Be very careful when using any electrical appliances in a flooded house
- Do not turn on wet electric devices because they may overheat, start a fire, or cause an electric shock.
- To save some money, you can do some of the cleanings yourself. A pro is however needed to offer a thorough cleanup.
- Just because you have homeowners insurance doesn’t mean you are fully covered. It is important to check with your insurer before a flood happens.
Dealing with Water Damaged Electronics
If you have electronics set up or stored in your basement you need to be careful when using them after a flood. Before using an electronic item that has experienced water damage it is important that you allow an appropriate amount of time to pass for the item to fully dry out. Plugging in the electronic device while it is still wet or damp can cause it to short out, or could shock the person when it is plugged into an outlet. After letting an item dry out for a significant amount of time you can then try plugging in the device. If the item turns on, make sure to keep an eye on it the first few times using it because it may still short out and potentially start a fire. These are some important steps to take while testing out your electronic devices after experiencing a flooded basement.
Identifying Hidden Water Damage
After flooding many people just focus on getting the water out of the basement and do not take any other significant steps in their clean up efforts. You may get your basement looking back to normal after a flood but the water may have brought in an unseen problem. When water floods the home it gets into many small cracks and unseen parts of the home. Water left in these areas of the home allow mold to grow and create significant health hazards to anyone who comes into contact with them. This is why it is important to get the water out as quick as possible and clean your basement thoroughly before moving on with your life.
Identifying Structural Water Damage
Flooding of the basement not only causes the destruction of many personal items in the basement but it can also cause structural damage to your property. When water enters your home and gets into places it’s not supposed to it can cause wood to rot and soften. Over time the wood continues to weaken, with it weakening the foundation of your home. To prevent this from happening, make sure to remove water as quickly as possible and to call a water restoration specialist to check for signs of structural damage to your home.
Using Sump Pumps to Keep Your Basement Dry
In the event of a flooded basement, sump pumps allow you to redirect the water out of your basement. When buying a sump pump you should keep in mind that there are different kinds such as battery, gas, and electric powered sump pumps. This is important to pay attention to what kind you buy because often times your power may be out when trying to get rid of the water. Obviously, in such a case an electric sump pump wouldn’t do you any good. Shovel, mops, sponges and other cleaning supplies are also good to have on hand. Cleaning supplies will allow you to take care of the dirt and filth brought into your home by the rainwater. Lastly, it will come in very hand to have a dehumidifier as well as fans on hand to help the process of drying out your basement. Experiencing water damage can be a very emotional time for people, but you can take steps to be prepared for the unexpected. In the end, taking action in advance will only help alleviate stress if a disaster should occur.
Dealing With Your Insurance Company
An insurance company would settle the damage if you included floods in your insurance policy. Our company liaises with the insurance company to cover the costs incurred during the restoration process. Remember to take pictures of the flooded basement and document every activity for future reference. You may also consider notifying your insurer immediately the incident happens to confirm your coverage limits, the claiming procedure, and the deductibles.
Prevent Future Floods in Your Basement
If your basement flooded once, there is a good chance that it will flood again. Cleaning up after a flood can be an incredible and costly undertaking, and this is likely an experience that you want to avoid dealing with in the future. With this in mind, you can take steps to prevent future floods. Common steps include sealing your basement, installing a sump pump with a backup generator, adding covers to window wells, installing gutters, grading the ground away from the home and more.
A flooded basement may be easy to overlook for some who rarely use their basement, but the reality is that it can be devastating for the home’s condition and value. Ideally, water extraction will begin at the first sign of a flood, and you will continue to walk through these steps to fully clean up after the flood. If you feel that the work is beyond your abilities, hire a professional to assist with the process.
Call Now for Professional Flood Basement Cleanout
Some homeowners will immediately call their insurance company to file a claim and will also contact a water remediation company for assistance at the first sign of a flooded basement. Others may prefer to avoid using insurance proceeds and may attempt to repair the damage on their own. As you can see, cleaning a flooded basement on your own can be a monumental task. Each step must be properly handled before moving on to the next step. Professional machines and testing equipment will need to be used. In addition, because restoration affects the condition of your home and its property value, quality craftsmanship is important. While some have what it takes to generate professional results, others will benefit from hiring a contractor to assist with all aspects of the extraction and restoration project.