If you have never had a flooded basement, be thankful. If you have, you understand the problems and costs that can result. If your basement floods, here are a few tips to keep in mind.
A flooded basement can cause many kinds of problems. Stepping into the water and flipping an electrical switch can cause electrocution that will kill you. In fact, if a live wire is exposed in the water that you don’t see, you could get shocked. Within a short time, standing water becomes a breeding ground for bacteria, which has been known to cause infection in common bodily scratches and scrapes.
Trying to vacuum up the water, or sweep it down the drain, may cause someone to slip and fall on the wet floor. Electric or gas-operated appliances may stop working and present a danger in themselves. Secondary damages include mold growth in the flooring or baseboards, as well as behind the wallboard. In particular, black mold can be toxic to human health.
A leaking basement foundation or windows may allow rain or melting snow to seep into the house. A backed-up sump pump can do it as well. Damaged plumbing or a flawed water line could bring water into the basement. A well or septic system that is malfunctioning might be the culprit.
A basement flood can damage major appliances like the furnace and hot water tank, requiring expensive repairs or replacements. It can ruin a finished basement or living space that will have to be refinished from the ground up. Any furnishings, stored items, or other belongings may be lost forever, including priceless heirlooms or photo albums. Insurance deductibles must be paid to have repair work done.
What to do.
If you suddenly find your basement is flooded, don’t attempt to wade through the water and clean it up. Stay out of the area, don’t turn on any electrical appliances, and call a professional plumber.
If the flood water has reached the furnace or hot water tank and you smell gas, leave the house without doing anything to ignite a spark, and call the fire department to come and check it. Don’t try to rescue any furnishings in the basement. Your first priority is to protect your life and your loved ones.
Cleaning a flooded basement can be difficult. An odor may develop, along with mildew and water seepage into other parts of the structure. Depending on the scope of damages, the flooring may need to be professionally cleaned or replaced. Wallboard might have to be repaired or replaced in part. Painting is likely to be needed. Removing the water is the first priority, and then checking appliances, plumbing, and electrical outlets will also need to be done, followed by cosmetic repairs.
A flooded basement can be devastating for many reasons. It is best to take precautionary steps to avoid the problem. If it does occur, immediate action is needed to contain the flooding and prevent further damage. Working with professionals will be important to restore the basement to a safe, functional, and attractive part of the home.
Charlie Teschner started MESA Plumbing, Heating, and Cooling in 1982. Charlie has a journeyman and master plumber’s license. He was raised with a strong work ethic and he now applies those values to tasks such as Longmont, CO heating repair.