We speak with homeowners every day – particularly during the heaviest rainy seasons – who have just discovered that their basements are flooded with several inches to several feet of groundwater and/or rainwater. Often times, homeowners are, understandably, upset that their personal items (and sometimes their home's utilities) have been damaged or destroyed by water and are anxious that it could happen again.
What to do When Your Basement is Flooded
In most cases, installing or upgrading your basement waterproofing system is the best way to prevent problems with basement flooding from happening again. But in the meantime, there are steps you can take to minimize the damage to your basement, recover personal items and avoid safety hazards to both you and your foundation walls.
1) Do What You Can to Slow Down or Stop the Water From Coming in
While it may not always be possible, it's a good idea to do everything you can to slow down or stop the water from coming into your basement to help make the clean-up easier. Check the downspouts and drainage around your home and create paths for water to drain away from your foundation.
If your basement is flooding due to a plumbing failure, turn off any failed fixtures. If a pipe, washer hose, water heater or other pressurized water source fails in your home, it can release hundreds of gallons of water into your basement each hour. In fact, we've seen water levels so high that water has begun to drain out through basement windows! Be careful to stay OUT of the water as you do this. Flooded basements can become electrified or contain wastewater that supports viruses and bacteria.
2) Rescue Your Personal Property
There are likely a few things you'll want to get out of your basement immediately, while others can wait until after you've completed the clean-up process. Since the basement will be humid for a couple of days while the drying out process continues, you may want to remove personal items such as photos, documents, and fabric furnishings. They may look fine now, but they could serve as a breeding ground for mold growth. You also may want to get a photographic record of the damage for your insurance company.
3) Contact a Disaster Restoration Expert or Begin the DIY Clean-up Process
It may seem a bit extreme to think of a “disaster restoration expert” when you need someone to pump out a flooded basement, but these are exactly the people who are best suited to help you take care of your flooded basement. Pumping out a severely flooded basement too quickly can potentially damage your foundation walls, so leave it to the experts to determine the best basement flood solutions for your situation.
In addition, disaster restoration experts are pros at drying homes, pumping out water, and making sure that mold and rot are controlled. You'll want to have them visit your home within 48 hours to avoid mold growth.
Disaster restoration experts are busiest during heavy rains — so call them right away to beat the crowds. These companies generally provide 24-hour emergency service, so don't hesitate to contact them as soon as you discover your basement has flooded. Depending on your area, the local fire company may also be available to pump your basement out.
What if you can't get a professional out soon enough, or prefer the DIY method?
Remove and Dry Contents: To save as much of your valuable contents as possible, remove them from the basement or the area of the basement that is taking on water. It's important to give these items ample drying time to prevent mold and mildew growth.
Remove and/or Pull Back the Carpet: Removing or pulling back your carpet makes it easier to clean up the water. Not to mention, if carpet is removed and dried quickly enough, it can actually be saved. If carpet is not dried properly after your basement floods, it can harbor mold and mildew.
Use a Shop-Vac: It's likely that stopping the water at this point isn't realistic. The best thing you can do is try to stay on top of the clean-up by using a Shop-Vac to remove the water.
Remove Drywall: The back side of drywall is made up of paper. When it gets wet, it can grow mold if it isn't dried out properly. Even if just the bottom of the drywall gets wet due to basement flooding, the water can wick up your drywall, causing mold issues higher up on your drywall. If you've got more than a couple inches of water in your basement or want to be extra cautious, cut and remove the bottom portion of your drywall, about a foot above the highest level that the water reached.
Dry Out the Basement: Once you've stopped or slowed down the water that is coming in, moving as much air as possible is important in drying your basement. Opening doors and windows, using fans and dehumidifiers are some of the best ways to help dry your basement out.
Even if you choose the DIY method for cleaning up after a basement flood, you may want to have a professional indoor air quality company out to test your home for any humidity or air quality concerns after the fact.
4) Contact a Basement Waterproofing Professional
Here's where we come in. With more than 40 years of experience, Thrasher has a reputation for providing high-quality, long-lasting basement waterproofing solutions. We have access to more than 30 patented basement repair products designed to keep your basement clean, dry, and odor-free, and we can customize a solution for you to prevent basement flooding problems for good. If you don't take the necessary steps to prevent water from entering the basement again, you will continue to have water issues and the clean-up process that comes with it with every heavy rain.
In our business, when it rains, phone calls pour in. In the same way that we see long lines at good restaurants on weekends and holidays, we're bustling with activity when basements are flooding all over the area. Calling us sooner rather than later is a great idea. You can count on our staff to go above and beyond to help you solve your problem as soon as possible.
5) Notify Your Insurance Company
If your homeowner's insurance policy covers flooding, now is a good time to give your insurance company a call. Your agent can talk with you about what options you have for a claim, and they can advise you on what needs to be done when you meet with your contractors.
Some insurance companies offer protection from flooding while others don't. It's also important to note whether your policy includes coverage for plumbing failure, groundwater flooding or both. Even if you decide against contacting your insurance company for this specific incident, it's important to note the type of coverage you have in the event of a future disaster.
6) Do Some Basement Waterproofing Research
The number of products and companies that specialize in basement waterproofing can be overwhelming. There's a lot of research that goes into basement waterproofing, and numerous products have been developed in recent years to serve a growing need.
Before meeting with any waterproofing company be sure to do some research online and through your local Better Business Bureau. You'll also want to ask any potential company for references, and whether or not their workers are fully insured. Also, be sure to research the types of solutions any prospective contractor offers, and how those solutions measure up against the competition.
Want to Learn More About Basement Flooding?
The good news is that 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 we'll show you firsthand why we're the best in the business. 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. To help you learn more about basement waterproofing (and your own wet basement problem), we'll also mail you a full-color copy of our 88-page waterproofing book. Contact us online or call 800-827-0702 to get started.