Help! My Basement has flooded!
Flooded basements are very dangerous.
Most importantly, the risk of electrocution rises with the level of water. If the flooding is shallow, use a wooden step-stool or fiberglass ladder if you can safely do so to turn off the breakers. When in doubt, call the fire department or an electrician. If the flooding is deeper, you ill need to have the power to your house completely shut off by a trained professional. If you have gas-powered appliances, it’s a good idea to turn the gas off, too.
Next, it’s time to get rid of standing water as quickly as possible. Again, if it’s deeper than your knees, seek professional help. You will need:
- A shop vacuum. This is how you’re going to get the water out. If it’s deep, you will need a professionally-operated pump.
- A generator. If there was a large natural disaster, the power will likely be out. Even if your neighborhood has power, your house won’t, because you turned the breakers off to protect yourself.
- Rubber boots and waterproof gloves. Floodwater is often contaminated with sewage and other pollutants.
- A powerful flashlight. A headlamp is best, as it frees both of your hands.
- A calm attitude. Even if your basement is flooded, it’s not the end of the world. Yes, you need to work quickly, but if you aren’t thinking straight, you’re more likely to make mistakes.
My flooded basement is a mess. What can be saved?
Furniture, rugs, and other portable items can be aired out and cleaned. Believe it or not, books can be saved with a clothing iron and a little TLC. Turn your iron on the lowest setting. While it heats up, blot as much water as you can with clean, dry towels. Then carefully iron the pages, starting with the cover. You must be extremely careful not to tear the delicate wet pages.
The best way to save items is to get to them as quickly as you can after establishing the basement is safe to enter. Remove as much water as you can with towels. Remember that anything touched with floodwater is potentially toxic, so wear gloves and disinfect all surfaces. For seat upholstery, place towels on the fabric and put something heavy on top. Change the towel every hour.
If it’s a clear day, put objects in direct sun for as long as possible. Besides the heat, UV rays can help kill any lurking bacteria.
When recovering from a basement flood, pick your battles.
Appliances are gone. Unfortunately, all electronic devices that were contaminated with flood water are toast. Even if your water heater is gas, the warranty is now void and the motor will be unreliable at best. Before you inspect for damage, double check that the electricity has been turned off and be extremely careful. Better yet, leave it up to a professional.
Don’t count on the carpet. Depending on how long the water was standing in your basement, carpet can sometimes be saved. This depends on what kind of flood water entered your home, how fast you can dry it, and what type of material it is. Often, the time spent trying to save the carpet would be better spent looking for a replacement.
Drywall that was submerged must be removed. Depending on how deep the water was, it might be faster to just replace the entire panel. Sturdier plasters like those often found in older houses and most wood paneling can be saved.
Next time, you’ll be ready.
Though not all flooding can be prevented, a robust basement waterproofing system can be of great help. At Staydry, we approach the problem from as many angles as possible. This means we can also help with retaining walls, drainage issues, and other ways to direct water away from your house. If you are interested in any of our waterproofing services or any of the other services we offer, you can contact us here or call us at 800.782.9379.