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A flooded basement is a disaster no homeowner should have to face, but when it happens, it’s important to respond in a safe, sensible way. The best route back to a safe, clean and dry basement depends on what you do, who you call, and what decisions you make. Our tips below can help you recover from an accident or a storm that causes water to come into your basement.
Priority: Stay safe
A wet basement is a safety hazard. Standing in the water while handling any electrical device can cause shock or electrocution. If you must go down into a flooded basement, wear rubber boots and make sure you can stay dry. Don’t touch wet electrical wires or devices. Don’t try to vacuum up standing water unless you can plug a wet-dry vacuum into a dry electrical outlet and operate the vacuum according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Follow these steps to solve basement water problems
There are a number of ways that water can get into your basement. That’s why it’s important to think carefully before you call a contractor or decide on a course of action. Here are some steps to take if you encounter a basement water problem.
1. Have standing water pumped out as soon as possible.
If your basement is only partially flooded, you can suck up standing water using a wet-dry vacuum. Otherwise, you’ll need to call in a professional to pump the water out. After pumping the basement, it may be necessary to run a dehumidifier to help dry out the area.
2. Remove materials and items that might attract mold.
If your basement has flooded, some materials and items can be dried out and saved, while others are best discarded. Organic materials like paper, fabric, wood, and leather will attract basement mold if they remain wet for more than a day or two. Dry out and save what you can; discard the rest if possible.
3. Take steps to control water outside the house.
Are your gutters and downspouts working effectively to direct roof runoff away from the house foundation? If not, correct problems with clogged or overflowing gutters, and install downspout extensions as necessary to protect the foundation from excessive hydrostatic pressure.
4. Protect your basement from plumbing leaks.
Make sure to replace an old tank-type water heater before the interior rusts out and causes a major basement flood. Rubber supply hoses for your washing machine should also be replaced if they show signs of cracking. Check water supply and drain lines for leaks, and protect water lines from freezing and bursting.
5. Install a warranted perimeter drain and sump pump system.
The most effective way to protect your basement from water that leaks in from outside the foundation is to install an interior drain and sump pump system. The water is piped to a sump pump that automatically discharges the water outside your house.
6. Replace leaky basement windows and window wells.
During wet weather, old window wells can fill with water, which then leaks into the basement through gaps and cracks in old basement windows. This problem can be eliminated, by installing new basement windows along with a new window well with a matching well cover. These upgrades will do more than prevent water leaks; they’ll also make your basement more attractive and more energy efficient.