A flooded basement is a real concern for many homeowners. Descending your cellar stairs to find an indoor swimming pool can lead to worries of water damage, mold, and ruined personal belongings. And standing water is a breeding ground for some pretty nasty bacterias and fungi. It’s not necessarily a lost cause, though.

Immediate Action

The first step to take when you notice a flooded basement is to turn off the electricity that may be affected by the water. You and your family’s safety is the number-one priority. Next, determine where the water is coming from. If it’s a broken pipe from faulty plumbing, shut off the water. If it’s from a storm, wait until the storm is over to attempt any kind of cleanup.

Once you’ve stopped the water (or Mother Nature has), get rid of that standing water. Some foundations have a drain built in to help minimize damage during a basement flooding. If your basement has one but there is still water, check to make sure it’s not clogged by debris. This is a quick and efficient way to rid the area of unwanted water. If there is no drain, then the water needs to be pumped out. A sump pump or pool pump can help to get the water out. You may have a sump pump already installed or could get one from a local hardware store. If it’s a relatively small area with a manageable amount of water, a wet/dry vacuum or simple mop could be sufficient. No matter what method you use, make sure to wear waders, gloves, and face masks to keep yourself safe. Once the water is more or less gone, it’s time to take inventory, asses any water damage, and establish the next best step.

Save Your Belongings

Because many people use their basement for storage, a flood can jeopardize the integrity of a lot of personal belongings. Once the water is gone, quickly remove everything from the wet area and place it all in a preferably sunny, warm, and dry environment. Books, clothing, and pictures can be placed on blankets in front and backyards. Generally, a solid 48 hours in the sun is best when drying out smaller items. If the flood has affected anything electronic, like a television or stereo, do not move those outside. For safety reasons, allow them to dry completely in place before attempting to move or asses damage.

Cleanup

Once you’ve cleared the flooded basement of water and personal belongings, it’s time to clean it up. If your basement is carpeted, rip up any area that was affected. Carpet can trap in water and create harmful mold if left untouched for too long. Remove any drywall or insulation that was underwater as these can also become infected with harmful bacteria and mold. Air circulation is the best way to dry out the space. Open any windows you can, use fans to get the air moving, and use a dehumidifier to help get rid of any excess moisture. A flooded basement will usually bring a lot of dirt, mud, and grime with it. Once the water is out, make sure to clean the floor and the walls thoroughly so that restoration is clean and safe.

Damage Restoration

The water is out, your belongings are dry, and the damaged flooring, walls, and insulation have been removed. Now comes the most daunting part: damage restoration. Before paying for expensive repairs or putting in a lot of work yourself, make sure the problem is fixed. Consult your insurance company and let them know what’s happened (A simple “my basement is flooded” may be the best way to start that conversation). If you have flood insurance they will be able to help with any costly repairs, but even if you don’t, it’s good to touch base to see exactly what kind of help you can expect. Finally, fix any broken plumbing issues, or contact a waterproofing specialist to ensure that your basement is fully waterproof in preparation for the next incident.

Home ownership is a challenge, but a rewarding one. Preparing for the storms is just as important as knowing how to clean up after them. Don’t let a flooded basement scare you away from buying a house. With these tips you’ll be able to handle anything thrown at you.

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