A basement flood is a homeowner’s nightmare. You must remove the water and begin cleanup right away. Spring into action with these steps.
Preparation for cleanup
- If your basement is flooded with only a few inches of water, you can likely handle the cleanup yourself. However, hire a professional water removal service for more water, particularly if you have a carpet.
- Electricity to the basement, or, if necessary, to the house, must be cut off before you enter a flooded basement. If you cannot access the breaker box safely, call an electrician.
- Stop the water flow into the basement if possible. For example, if a burst pipe is the source of the water, cut off the water to that pipe. If the water is from a source you cannot control, such as heavy rain pooling against the foundation, you may have to bail and pump water out as fast as possible to stem the tide until the rain stops.
- Before cleaning up, video the extent of the flooding and water damage. State on the video the date, time and cause of the flood. This will help you should you file an insurance claim or seek help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
- When removing water and cleaning after a flood, protect yourself by wearing rubber boots, plastic gloves, and, if mold has already formed, an N95 mask.
Removing the water and cleaning up
- If the water is only a few inches deep, use a water vacuum to suck it up. For deeper water, rent a portable sump pump from an equipment rental business. Then, direct the water up to a drain or outside, away from the house.
- Remove any carpet and any furniture and/or absorbent items that have gotten soaked. Wet clothing and linen can be washed, but wet upholstery must be professionally cleaned to salvage it.
- If drywall is soaked, cut it out to just above the waterline with a utility knife.
- Once the water flow is stopped and the water and any soaked items have been removed, dry out the basement with fans and dehumidifiers.
- Finally, mop the floor with a mild bleach and water solution or an antifungal cleaner. Be sure to ventilate the basement to avoid toxic fumes while doing so.
Preventing the next flood
After alleviating the flooding and associated damage, take preventative measures to avoid a future basement flood.
- Install a sump pump if you don’t already have one. A battery-powered pump will work when the electricity goes out.
- Inspect plumbing over the basement for looming problems.
- Build soil around your home’s foundation to prevent water from pooling against it. Install French drains in flower beds.
- Place items stored in the basement in plastic tubs to stay dry if the basement floods.
Related – What to Do After Your Home Floods