Extreme Flooding: When (and when not) to Remove Water From Your Basement

Friday, March 22nd, 2019 by Thrasher

Homeowners who have dealt with water in their basement before know how stressful the cleanup process is. From rescuing personal items to tallying the damages, no part of the process is fun, and often times, homeowners aren't sure where to start. Removing the water seems like a logical first step, but there are actually times when removing water too quickly can cause more harm than good. If you've got more than a foot of water in your basement, read this first.

Water Removal After Basement Flooding

With extreme rain, snow melt and/or flooding events, basement water problems are magnified. Water around your home will build hydrostatic pressure and can enter your home through the path of least resistance, which could be the cold joint where your foundation footing and wall meet, cracks in foundation walls, hollow block foundation walls or poured foundation form ties or joints.

In the case of extreme rain and flooding, the water table can rise to several feet above the basement floor level. This means that even after water has entered your basement, there's still hydrostatic pressure building from the outside against your foundation walls. Removing water in this situation places more pressure on your foundation walls, and in severe cases, could cause your foundation walls to collapse. It's a better move to wait to remove the water in your basement until after the water table has returned to normal.

Removing Water too Quickly Can Cause Foundation Damage

In addition to the potential for foundation wall failure, large amounts of hydrostatic pressure can cause water to bring sand and dirt with it into the basement, which can undermine your foundation footing and lead to foundation settlement. This will not only cause cracks in your foundation walls, but damage to the upper floors of your home in the form of drywall cracks, sloping floors, and doors and windows that stick and don't function properly.

What to Look For: Signs of Extreme Hydrostatic Pressure

If you've got more than a foot of water in your basement, here are some signs of extreme hydrostatic pressure to watch for:

Basement Perimeter: You may notice sand or dirt around the perimeter of your basement walls or coming up through plumbing lines like toilets or floor drains.

Sump Pit and Drainage System: Check for sand and dirt that has entered your sump pit or interior drainage system.

Sump Pump Discharge Line: Take a look outside at your sump pump discharge line. Your sump pump may be pumping out the sand that is entering into your sump pit and drainage system.

If you notice sand and dirt like this, unplug your sump pump so it stops pumping water and sand out. This may sound extreme, but it is very likely that foundation damage will occur without taking this step.

What to do Next: Safely Removing Water

Once you begin to see the water recede on its own, you can begin removing water from your basement - slowly. Remove a foot of water at a time and mark the water level. Give it 24 hours and if the water level rises past your mark, it's too early. If the water doesn't rise past your mark, remove another foot of water and wait 24 hours again. Repeat the process until the water is gone, and keep an eye out for foundation cracks or damaged foundation walls. Water removal is just one step in the cleanup process after basement flooding, though an important one when it comes to preventing foundation problems.

Preventing Future Problems with Basement Water Intrusion

Once water has found a way into your basement, it will continue to follow that path during future rain and weather events. When it comes to wet basement repair, we at Thrasher have it down to a science. Have us out for a free, on-site inspection, and before we leave your home, you'll know exactly what caused the problem, exactly how we can fix it and exactly how much it will cost. Contact us online or call to get started.