Important Steps to Take After a Basement Flood

Important Steps to Take After a Basement Flood

Did you know that around 15 million homes in the United States are at risk of flooding? If you were recently hit with bad weather and your basement flooded, you are probably feeling that tackling this room seems impossible. Honestly, it won’t be too bad to clean up a basement flood with our guide below. 

Read on for the most important steps to take when cleaning up your basement.

Turn Off the Power

To prevent any tragic accidents, you want to disconnect the power to the basement. Check to see if you have a circuit breaker in your garage where you can turn off all the power to avoid getting electrocuted. 

If you are not sure how to do this or where your breaker is located, contact a licensed electrician to disconnect it for you. You will need to use battery operated floor lamps or flashlights to help you navigate around the basement safely once the power is disconnected. 

Remove the Water

One of the first things you need to do is get the water out ASAP. Grab a wet vac to help you suck up the water and dispose of it. Then use towels to help wipe up any excess water. 

If you allow any water to sit, it will cause mold to start growing and this will spread quickly. Mold has the ability to start growing within just 24 hours of being on a damp surface. They reproduce by spores, which have the ability to travel though air and destroy whatever they grow on. 

If you have major water damage, it is best to contact a reputable professional such as The Steam Team. They will make sure that every nook and cranny is water free to prevent any mold growth. 

Move Items Out

Everything that is wet and damaged, remove it out of the basement and move it into a well-ventilated room or area. We do not recommend drying items out inside the basement because it is naturally a damp room. 

The best location is outside with the heat of the sun if it happens to be a sunny day. If not, place all the items in a room where you can allow them to sit with fans and dehumidifiers for at least 48 hours untouched. 

For items that are still not dry within 48 hours, discard them or give them a bit more time to dry. If any of the items are susceptible to mildew growth it is best to just get rid of them before they cause havoc on your family’s health. 

Find the Source

When you are done removing the water out of the area, then you have to figure out where the source is. One of the first things you want to check is your sump pump because if this stops working it can lead to a flood. 

Do not plug your sump pump to test it out until it is safe to do so. If it’s not the sump pump, then leave it on and allow it to collect any water you might have missed while you were removing the water. 

Some common places to inspect include: floor drains, bathtubs, walls, floor cracks, toilets, sinks, windows, showers, or pipes connected to appliances. 

Dry It Out

After you get all the water out of your flooded basement, it’s time to dry it out. Get as many fans and dehumidifiers as you can to help the air in the entire room move around. Make sure you keep the dehumidifiers six to eight inches way from the walls in order to have the best circulation. 

Also, keep the air conditioner running at all times. If you have any wet cardboard boxes, do not try to dry them out, just throw them away. 

Keep in mind that drying the entire room out is going to ensure that mold doesn’t have the ability to grow. There are some people that are super sensitive to mold, and they can end up wheezing, have stuffy noses, itchy skin, etc. If you or anyone in your home starts to randomly experience any odd symptoms, it can be a sign that something did not dry up all the way. 

Scrub the Floor

Once everything is nice and dry, then it is time to scrub and clean the floor. You can use a cup of chlorine bleach or a similar product mixed with water to scrub the entire floor. Make sure the room is well ventilated while you do this, and wear eyewear and rubber gloves to protect yourself. 

Freeze Important Documents

If you have any cherished papers or valuable documents that got damp during the flood, stick them in the freezer as soon as possible. Doing this can help stop mildew from growing and it can also prevent deterioration. 

Once you are done cleaning everything out, you can defrost your documents and use dry towels to try to salvage them as much as possible. Moving forward, it is a good idea to not store valuable documents in the basement and if you do, store them in a place that water can’t easily access. Plastic storage bins for example are a much better choice than cardboard boxes. 

Examine Gutters and Drains

Take the time to check the steps to your basement and all the drains on the floor. If there are any leaves, mud, or twigs blocking the drains, wear rubber gloves to remove the debris. Wherever there is a drain screen, remove it and scrub it down well. 

In some cases, you will need to use a plumber’s snake or a plunger in order to 100% clear the drain. While you’re at it, clean out the gutters and any downspouts as well to ensure that water can easily flow through those areas and not get stuck due to gunk. 

How to Dry Up Carpet

For those with a basement that has wall-to-wall carpeting, you need to do a little extra work to ensure that you don’t start growing a mold colony on your carpet. Although you can more than likely save your carpet, you will have to pull the padding out and replace it. 

Once you get most of the water out of the basement, then we recommend using a carpet cleaner to shampoo and clean the carpet before you pull it up. After you shampoo it, pull the carpet up from the tacking strip that is around the entire perimeter of your basement. 

After pulling the carpet up, use ladders and chairs to tent the carpet over them. Place fans below the carpet and above it to help dry it well, and also use a few dehumidifiers to speed up the process. Remove the entire padding and throw it away because the material is typically never recoverable and if you leave it, it’s asking for mildew trouble. 

When the carpet is dry along with the cement pad, gather cleaning chemicals that help inhibit mildew and mold growth. Make sure the entire room is well ventilated, and you are wearing the appropriate safety gear while you clean up. 

How to Dry Wooden Floor

If your basement has wood floor, it is just as important to attend to the floor immediately because wood can warp when it’s wet and it can discolor. The first thing you need to do is move any wet items and furniture off the floor ASAP. Leaving heavy furniture on wooden floor will cause extra damage and can dent the floor as well. 

You can use a wet-dry vacuum to remove as much water as possible. For basements with too much water, you might want to consider hiring a professional to ensure your wooden floor is not completely damaged. When hardwood floor is too wet, it is highly susceptible to mold, so you need to use a wood-floor friendly disinfectant to clean up the floor after you remove the standing water. 

After you disinfect it, place a dehumidifier in the center of the room to help remove excess moisture. You can also use large fans in place of a dehumidifier, but honestly, using a combination of both fans and dehumidifiers is best. Also, turn on the air conditioning to speed up the process. 

Keep in mind that sometimes it can take up to six weeks for hardwood floor to completely dry up. You can have your floor refinished or sanded down to bring it back to life, but make sure you wait a minimum of six weeks before doing so. 

Future Prevention

Going through a basement flood is not a fun experience, between the cleanup after the flood and dealing with your insurance company, the entire process can be a major headache and stress inducer. This is why we recommend preventing a basement flood in the future with these tips:

Cover Window Wells

Sometimes water collects in window wells and ends up seeping through into your basement floor. Take the time to inspect all of your window wells and clean them before securing them with clear acrylic covers. These covers will still allow sunlight to come in, but will keep water and debris out.  

Repair Foundation Cracks

Take the time to check the foundation of your home for any signs of stress or cracks. Check the outside of your home as well for any exterior cracks along the basement. If you notice any cracks, you can either use epoxy to repair them or contact a professional. 

In the event that you notice large cracks, it is best to call a company that has experience to ensure that the repair is done correctly and that you won’t have future headaches. 

Sump Pump Maintenance

This small pump is largely responsible for preventing water damage in your house. Sometimes it can fail because of a power outage or a clog. Add a reminder to your phone or to-do list to regularly inspect your sump pump to make sure it’s still running and running correctly. 

Clean Gutters and Downspouts

Sometimes rain water will pool and seep inside your house if your downspouts or gutters are clogged up with gunk. Make it a habit to regularly clean your downspouts and your gutters. 

Also, they have to end at least three feet away from your home to ensure that any rain water has the ability to flow away from your house instead of into your home. 

Regrade the Lawn

Many homeowners do not realize that after some time you have to level out your yard. Slopes can begin to form in the lawn that can cause water to travel down towards your home. Regrading your lawn will help smooth out any slopes that have formed and keep the rain from traveling down your lawn and into your basement. 

Install a Flood Sensor

Although this tip won’t prevent a flood it can help you prevent a flood from getting worst. They sell sensors that will alert you if any flooding begins in the room they are installed in. Some of these devices can be connected to your smart phone via an app where you will instantly receive a notification so that you can take action quickly.

At this point you can cut off power right away to prevent electrocution and move all important items to higher ground while you get the flood under control or call for help. 

Ready to Tackle a Basement Flood?

Now that you have learned what to do in the event of a basement flood, you can act quickly and clean up the mess. Make sure you don’t touch anything electrical to prevent getting electrocuted. 

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