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Cleaning Up After A Basement Flood

With Hurricane Sandy still a vivid memory for most everyone, it is a stark reminder of just how rapidly the weather can turn nasty, and the effect it may have on our homes. Severe weather may cause homes and businesses to flood, at least in the basement, and basements that might otherwise be protected can end up flooding if sump pumps set ups fail due to loss of electricity. Water in the basement damages stored items and can set the stage for mold problems.  It also means the temperature drops because you are unable to turn on your heater.

A good rule of thumb to follow is this: if there is no power in the home and there is water in the basement, you probably shouldn’t be in the house.  Even running extension cords to “borrow” some power from your neighbor can be extremely dangerous. Unless you have commercial grade extension cords, you run the risk of additional shorts or electrocution.

If your basement has been flooded, the first order of business is to dry it out. Your sump pump setup will begin working as soon as the power is restored. If there is still power to your home, do not enter the basement until it has been shut off at the source in order to avoid electrocution. The power should not be turned back on again until the water restoration process has been completed, and then only after the approval of a restoration professional that it is safe to do so.  Remember that soaked electrical outlets can mean big trouble for your electrical system.

Depending on the depth and severity of the basement flooding, most of the water may be removed either using a wet dry vac unit or a heavy duty submersible pump. These units will be able to remove most, but not all, of the standing water in your basement.  Older homes may also have clean out plugs in the basement that connect with the sewer system. You simply remove these plugs and allow flood water to drain into the sewer system beneath the home.  As soon as the water is drained, the plug should be reinstalled in order to prevent gas or sewage from backing up into the home.

Once the water is out, then air should be pumped through the flooded basement as much as possible, as increasing air circulation will speed up the drying process and cut down on the threat of mold. Wet carpet and furniture should be removed from the area as soon as possible, as they can be dried and repaired elsewhere without causing additional problems.

As for mold, remember that it has two natural enemies…..ventilation and sunlight. Increasing both of these in a given area will go a long way toward making sure that mold is not a threat in your home following a flood problem. Remember that mold may show up as soon as 48 hours following a flood, so it is important to take proactive steps to prevent the problem from taking hold.

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