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The Right Way to Handle a Flooded Basement

The Right Way to Handle a Flooded Basement

The Right Way to Handle a Flooded Basement

Flooded basements can be a homeowner’s worst nightmare! Even the smallest amount of water can cause major damages and lead to mold and mildew issues.

On top of this, you’re worried about whether this is a one-time problem or if basement flooding could be an ongoing issue in your home.

Basement flooding is typically caused by cracks in the foundation of your home. Many times, water damage is hidden by finished basements, causing homeowners to wait too long to fix the foundation cracks. This can cause the damage to be more extensive and costly to repair.

When looking for a solution to your flooded basement, you need to be a savvy consumer. There are companies out there using products to waterproof foundation walls from inside of your home.

Unfortunately, this is a “Band-Aid” solution that will most likely lead to recurring basement flooding.

Repairing foundation cracks from the interior of the home won’t remove the water that’s already inside the foundation wall and it won’t prevent further water from seeping into the foundation.

If you have water leaking into the basement, the harsh reality is that digging is your only solution!

In order to fix the problem once and for all, 1) Find an expert who will identify the cause of the wet basement; 2) Have them fix the cracked foundation from the outside of your home; and 3) Get them to apply waterproofing measures to prevent future foundation leaks.

Basement flooding

If a burst pipe is the cause of the flood, shut off water to the basement. … Keeping it open and functioning will help drain the water. • Start removing water from the basement. Depending on the amount of water, you can use a sump pump, a pool pump, a wet/dry vacuum or a mop and bucket.

The Right Way to Handle Flooded Basement

How to Avoid a Flooded Basement in the First Place

Unfortunately, a flooded basement is a common occurrence. According to the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation:

  • Chronically wet houses are linked to an increase in respiratory problems.
  • Frequent occurrences of basement flooding can result in long-term damage to the building and equipment that may not be covered by insurance.
  • Insurance rates may rise to compensate for repeated basement flooding claims, and/or the minimum deductible may be increased significantly.
  • Property value may depreciate because the basement is prone to frequent flooding.

The good news is that flooded basements can be avoided by implementing some of the following measures:

1. Basement Waterproofing

Waterproofing will strengthen the structural integrity of your home’s foundation by alleviating the hydrostatic pressure created by the earth surrounding your basement walls.

2. Weeping Tile Replacement

A weeping tile is a porous pipe used for underground drainage. The pipe is typically plastic with small slits cut lengthwise into it, which allows for the collection of excess water from the ground.

Rocks are placed around the weeping tiles to prevent the pipes from getting clogged with dirt. The purpose of the weeping tile is to allow excess moisture to seep through the gravel, be collected by the pipes, and then drained away from your home’s foundation.

Much older homes have weeping tiles made of clay. After decades, these weeping tiles can become blocked, which can potentially cause basement flooding. If this occurs, the only solution is to have your weeping tiles replaced with new perforated plastic drainage piping.

This required digging down to the footing of the house to remove the old tiles and have new ones installed.

3. Parging (concrete surface refinement)

Parging is the process of applying a thin coat of mortar over concrete to evenly refine the surface of your home’s exterior walls. The purpose of parging is to create a contiguous surface by filling any air holes and smoothing out any roughness. Not only does parging improve the appearance of your home, but it also helps protect the wall from rain and snow.

Keep in mind that parging a wall yourself is not the solution for foundation cracks. Cracks in foundations can be serious; therefore, they need to be addressed by an expert to ensure that they are not the cause of serious structural damage.

4. Window Wells

Window wells are installed to prevent moisture from seeping into your home through the basement windows, which are typically at or below ground level. Essentially, a window well is a barrier that separates the basement windows of your home from the earth up against the foundation.

The Fix For A Flooded Basement

A flooded basement can be a disturbing disaster depending on the level of the water involved. This problem features more of a challenge than the exterior visible water.

The damage caused to a flooded basement is more than enough because it disturbs the basement walls and the windows of the building. Accumulated water in the basement can seep behind the cracked walls into the small openings.

This leads to the development of toxic growths such as mildew, mold, and poisonous gases. Hence, strong measures should be considered to mitigate the effects brought about by basement flooding.

Avoiding long term damage requires a quick response and the following steps are essential in treating basement flooding.

Time is crucial and a flooded basement is first dealt with by pumping out the water in the basement using a pump or a wet-dry vacuum.

The long term damage can further be prevented by cleaning up and drying the basement as fast as possible.

In case the flooding is extreme, the best option is calling for professional help from qualified professional water damage companies.

i) Pumping out

The immediate response to a flooded basement is to pump out the water that basement walls, fabrics, and carpets sustained. Quick removal is critical in preventing the ravages of water in your household to linger for long.

Effects associated with a flooded basement are evident by the creation of mold, rot, and corrosion which disturb the stability of a building.

For proper service, sump tools are essential for this job since it can pump water out behind the cracked basement walls and windows into the drainage system. Generally, a sump pump can extract water down to about 1/8 inch from the land surface or the floor.

ii) Cleaning up

After pumping out the water from the flooded basement, the remaining water should be removed completely with a wet or dry vacuum tool. Water should be prevented from flowing towards the foundation of a building and be directed into the drainage system.

In this stage, a shop vac is necessary to pump out the pit and dump the water. It is helpful if all the dirt is removed from the home sewer system so that only water remains in there.

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This is necessary for the application of the shop vac. The flooded basement should also be disinfected. Use the pine oil and Clorox bleach to spray all over the basement walls, windows, and items that are wet.

Pine oil is helpful when sprayed on nonporous items so as to prevent the development of mold. Just make sure that your basement is professionally cleaned up.

ii) Drying up

A flooded basement caused by rains or rising water tables can be reduced and dried using the appropriate tools. Since moisture and accumulated water under the basement promotes the growth of mold and other toxic respiratory gases.

This stage allows you to expose all the wetted items to enough airflow to facilitate the drying process. This includes anything that is sullied with humidity and musty odors.

The toxic respiratory gases caused by a flooded basement can be fatal and proper ventilation through the basement is vital.

However, in case the outdoor air is humid and the ventilation process is problematic, the best option is the use of a dehumidifier.

Be certain that anything wet caused by the flooded basement is completely dried up.

iii) Professional help

The final and best way to mitigate a flooded basement is by employing professional assistance from your insurance company.

The company is obliged to restore everything to normal in addition to meeting all the expenses. Ensure that the company you select to offer more competent assistance is valid and licensed to avoid being conned.

Finally, the damage caused by a flooded basement is enormous and the above steps are very important in dealing with it. In case of such an incidence, a quick response, and application of the above steps is enough to cut all the problems out.

The Right Way to Handle Flooded Basement

The Value of Cleaning Up a Flooded Basement Right Away

Most, if not all people would automatically equate a flooded basement to every negative thing that they can think of. This is okay because it just means that you recognize the damages that a flood can do to your basement.

The bad thing about it is some people become afraid of taking care of it. You’ve probably heard a lot of horror stories that happen in a flood and you don’t want to be anywhere within a mile of it.

So when this happens, you forget the value of cleaning up. It becomes so negative that you don’t want to do something about it.

This is why it’s important to recognize the value of cleaning up a flooded basement. Although it’s hard, think of it as an opportunity to shine.

You know the damages that it can do to your home and your family. Now is the chance to say to yourself that there’s no way you’re letting a flood do that. Because you realize the value of cleaning up, it makes things easier for you.

When you clean up a flooded basement, you’re protecting your home. Your home has suffered some damages. But it’s still standing and you owe it to your home to make sure that there won’t be any further damages.

So property wise, this is the most important value that you can have. You invested in your home and you’re protecting that investment because you want to provide a safe sanctuary for your family.

Along the way, you’ll also save a lot of properties. If you have one of those livable basements, then there are a lot of things in it. Don’t equate a flooded basement to total destruction of your basement.

If you clean it right away, there’s a great chance that you’ll save most of your properties. If you use your basement as a storage area, then there are a lot of things there that you don’t want to see damaged.

The Right Way to Handle a Flooded Basement

After all, there’s a reason why you chose to store it and not throw it out. Your basement probably has some of your properties that have the most sentimental value.

You’re also saving your family’s health when you clean up a flooded basement right away. You probably know that your health is your number one treasure and you can’t put a price to it.

Making sure that you don’t allow a flooded basement to affect your health is protecting something that no one can put a price onto.

Now that you’re recognizing the unquantifiable values to cleaning up a flooded basement right away, doesn’t it make sense to let the experts do it?

They also recognize the value that you’re seeing and they have the tools and expertise needed to protect it. That’s the better way to do it.

Must Read: Dishwasher is Not Draining

Pump Out Your Flooded Basement: Safety Precautions

Some homes are more susceptible to basement flooding, especially if you live within low lying areas. If you have found that flooding is an issue, there are preventable measures that you can take to seal off your basement.

Not all of these methods, however, are foolproof and you may still end up with a basement full of water. Hiring a professional to come out and pump your basement can become quite costly, especially if you find that it is happening on a regular basis throughout the years.

Instead, with the aid of a submersible water velocity pump, you can pump out your basement yourself and save some money. However, there are serious safety considerations you must take prior to doing the work yourself.

The Right Way to Handle Flooded Basement

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Precautions When Pumping Out Your Basement

There are a few steps that will aid you in pumping out your basement, but you will want to be sure that you have taken all of the necessary safety precautions prior to actually beginning to pump the water out.

  • Ensure that the electricity is turned off. Nothing will end your efforts – and quite possibly, your life – faster than stepping into a flooded basement that has electric currents surging through the water. Ensure that the electricity is turned off – to be safe, turn off the entire circuit breaker for the home.
  • Always Take Pictures Before Beginning. This is especially important for homeowner’s insurance purposes. You need to prove that the damage was caused by flooding and the only way you can do this – short of calling your insurance company to your home – is to document the damage with photographs.
  • Let the Water Settle. This may seem like an effort in futility, but it is necessary to let the water settle before trying to pump it out. The reason for this is that the internal pressure and external pressure are working against each other. Any rapid draining may cause pressure buildup which will result in your basement walls and foundation being compromised.
  • Test the Conditions. This is to ensure that you have waited long enough for the basement flooding to settle. Using your water velocity pump, drain anywhere between two and three feet of water and mark the area where the water sets. Leave the water alone for at least 24 hours. Check the water levels the next day – if they have risen again, it has not been resting long enough. If the water has not risen, it is okay to proceed in pumping out your basement.

Following these tips will help you prepare for the real work of pumping out your basement.

Flooded Basement – Do You Have a Sump Pump?

Who could believe rain in February? Most Bostonians rejoiced that it rained and not snowed like the rest of the country which had record-breaking snowfalls.

However, there are some Bostonians who wished it had snowed, not because they like skiing but because their basements flooded due to the heavy rains.

Inevitably whenever the North East gets a lot of rain in a very short time, basements flood and the most important tool a homeowner needs in a basement is a sump pump.

The majority of our customers with flooded basements who needed our services to pump out their basements all had sump pumps; however, those pumps failed to work when they were most needed.

A large percentage of these flooded basements could have been prevented. How do you ask? With preventative maintenance.

Sump pumps are like clothes dryers and dishwashers they both need periodic maintenance to operate efficiently.

It is recommended that in the states where rain and flooding are more prevalent, sump pumps should be tested every few months, while in other states that only have periodic flooding, they should be tested twice per year.

Sump pump maintenance:

  • After a Heavy Rain – Check the inlet screen for any blockage. This is one of the leading causes of pump failure
  • Fill the sump pit up with water to make sure the pump is working.
  • Once the pump starts to work, go outside to see if the pump is actually pumping water, or place your hand around the pipe to feel if the water is passing through it. You must check to see if the pump is actually pumping water because sometimes the pump will turn on but not actually pump anything.
  • Make sure that the float controlling the pump is not restricted or getting hung up.
  • If the pump has a back-up battery, it should be replaced every second or third year.

Finally, if your home does flood due to the malfunction of your sump pump, be aware that your home owner’s policy almost always excludes sump pump failure.

The Right Way to Handle Flooded Basement

sump pump
Flooded Basement

My advice to you would be to call your insurance broker to see if you can add a sump pump clause to your policy.

The cost for this is very small compared to the thousands of dollars it might cost you if that pump does fail and you end up with two feet of water in your finished basement.

STAY DRY!!!!!!


Determine the source of the water. If a burst pipe is the cause of the flood, shut off water to the basement.

• If your basement has a floor drain, check to make sure it didn’t become clogged during the flood. Keeping it open and functioning will help drain the water.

• Start removing water from the basement. Depending on the amount of water, you can use a sump pump, a pool pump, a wet/dry vacuum, or a mop and bucket. Sump pumps are located in the lowest part of a basement and work by sending water away from the home after flooding.

Without a sump pump, water can come up through the ground and enter the home causing flooding in not only the basement but other parts of the house as well.

After most of the water has been removed, soak up the remainder with a cloth or sponges. Don’t be shy about asking for help — many an extra set of hands can make the removal go faster.

• Move damaged items out of the basement to dry in a well-ventilated area. If weather permits, a sunny place may lend itself as the best option. It’s best not to dry out items inside the basement, which is already damp. A good rule of thumb is to give items about 48 hours to thoroughly dry.

If they remain wet, they may need to be discarded in order to avoid mold and mildew. The best advice is to inspect things carefully after the 48-hour period, and decide the best course of action. Don’t try to save wet cardboard boxes, since they can be especially susceptible to bacterial growth. Salvage the contents of the boxes if you can, and discard the cardboard containers to be safe.

The Right Way to Handle Flooded Basement

• Don’t touch electrical items like televisions, stereos or lamps, even with the electricity disconnected. It’s best to let electrical items dry in place, and refer to an electrician or qualified repairman to determine the amount of damage.

• Rip up carpeting and get it out of the basement as soon as possible. Carpeting can prevent the floor underneath from drying if it’s not removed quickly. Although it can be difficult to adequately dry out these materials, sometimes wet carpeting can be saved. Consult a restoration specialist or a carpet cleaning contractor for recommendations. If carpet isn’t dried properly, it can also harbor mold and mildew.

• Give the basement several days of drying time. Open windows and doors to get as much ventilation as possible, and place fans around the room for air circulation and to speed drying time. You can also rent a dehumidifier if you don’t have one already.

• Wash down floors and walls to remove any dirt left behind by the water. Remove any wet or damaged drywall and insulation to prevent the spreading of mold.

• When the floor and walls are dry, use an anti-mildew spray to discourage mold and mildew from developing.

• If you have flood insurance, call your home insurance company and report the flood. Confirm your coverage limits, deductible amount, and claim procedures.

The Right Way to Handle Flooded Basement