What To Do (and what NOT to do) When Your Basement is Flooded

Sewer backups, heavy rains, burst pipes – these are just some of the factors that may result in a flooded basement. Many of our posts focus on how to prevent basement floods, but today we want to give you tips on how to keep your family safe in the unfortunate event that preventative steps are just not enough.

In the event of a basement flood, it is important to stay away from the flooded area until a qualified professional says that it is safe to enter. Your family’s health and safety should be your number one concern, as a wet basement poses serious hazards, including:

Chemicals & Pollutants
Gas Leaks
Electrical Shock
Structural Damage

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Chemicals & Pollutants

Chemicals-&-PollutantsDuring basement cleanup, there are many contaminants that could affect you, from the cleaning agents used to clean the basement, to pollutants from the flood water. If there is a risk of sewer water or raw sewage, be sure to wear protective clothing. Proper ventilation and limited exposure are of utmost importance.

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Gas Leaks

gas-leaksCommon during basement floods, it is important to leave the house as soon as you smell gas, and to contact the authorities right away.

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Electrical Shock

Electrical-ShockWet basements pose a serious risk of electrical shock. If you are confident that you can safely turn of the power at the main breaker switches, do so. Otherwise, wait for the authorities to do it for you.

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Structural Damage

Structural-DamageIn some cases, a basement flood can weaken the ceiling or the structure of the walls. If you’re not completely sure that your home’s structure is uncompromized, rather leave the area to the experts.

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Basement Flooding Dos and Don’ts

DO shut off the main water valve if you have a burst pipe or hot water heater. Flooding from a burst pipe will usually be coming from an upper level of the home, and the water will be clear, in which case, you should shut off the main water valve, if you can do so safely.

DO NOT flush the toilet or use the dishwasher, washing machine or any other water using appliance until the issue has been resolved.

DO call your insurance company. Ask them about the specific steps you should take to support your claim. They should advise on standard clean-up procedures, recommend contractors you could call, and give you information on claim procedures.

DO take plenty photos and make a list of damaged items.

DO keep all receipts for purchases, repairs and emergency work.

DO report main sewer backups to the municipality so that it can be repaired.

Handling the Big Basement Flooding Cleanup

The first step to a basement cleanup, is to put on protective gear, including shoes, glasses and masks. Get ready all your cleaning materials, and find ways to provide as much ventilation as possible to the basement by means of open windows and fans.

If possible, keep the electrical supply shut off during the process.

1. Salvage your belongings

Remove everything possible from the flooded area as soon as you can in order to prevent mildew, mold, rot, and warping.

2. Deal with the flooring

Rugs, underlayers and wood flooring will probably have to be discarded.

3. Dry up the area

Use old towels and rags to remove any excess water. You could use a wet/dry vacuum, but if that’s not sufficient, you will have to hire professionals to use industrial machines to dry out your basement.

4. Disinfect

All fixed objects should be disinfected, including the furnace, floor, foundation and any other fixed-in-place objects.

Once your basement has been cleaned, you can start thinking about rehabilitation. Items that can be salvaged, should be cleaned and dried professionally.

As part of the rehabilitation, consider what you want to do with your basement, and how you will prevent basement flooding in future. It may require tearing out the entire exterior dry-wall and framing, fixing cracks in floors and walls, and waterproofing.

When your basement is flooded, call Anta Plumbing. We have extensive experience in handling this issue.

Written by Tanya Klien

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