Flooding in basements is a potentially serious problem that can cause property damage in a variety of ways. In addition to the structural damage it can bring about, serious basement flooding can also wreak havoc on a personal level because many people store valuable, even irreplaceable, possessions in their basements.
Homes located in areas prone to heavy rainfall or melting snow and which are structurally defective even to a small degree, are prime candidates for flooding. For example, water can seep through cracks in the walls or enter via ducts and vents that are not properly sealed. If the flooding occurs slowly and goes unnoticed, the chance of permanent damage to personal items increases.
In a case of basement flooding the first course of action should be to secure a portable pump (if you do not already have one) in order to remove the bulk of the water. Various types of pumps, such as gas and sump pumps, are readily available at your local hardware or home improvement store. When choosing a good sump pump it is advisable to consider the intake area because some pumps are capable of draining the water all the way down, whereas others will leave puddles.
Assuming that you are ready to spring into action, before the pumping begins make sure that the main electricity and gas switches are turned off. (Ideally the pump should be connected to a power line outside the house.) Entering the basement without having taken this precaution increases the risk of further mishap. You should also open all windows and doors in the affected areas so that fresh air can circulate.
Once the water has been pumped out the more arduous tasks of mopping and debris removal have to be carried out. If you happen to have a wet/dry vacuum the job will obviously be easier. Floor squeegee are essential at this stage, as are protective wear such as gloves and boots (in case some bacterial agents have leaked into the house). After you have removed all debris you may want to hose down the walls as an extra measure of sanitation.
Now comes the drying process. If you can put a household heating system to work, the basement will certainly dry faster. In any case a dehumidifier working alone will be sufficient if you allow it to run around the clock until the basement is completely dry. To be able to run it continuously, however, you may want to modify the unit’s catch bucket because many dehumidifiers have an automatic shut-off switch which is activated when the bucket becomes full. Unless you modify the bucket you will find yourself running up and down the basement stairs more than you would probably want. Never forget during this process that if electricity and water are in the same vicinity, you must remain alert at all times.
After the cleanup is complete the basement should be assessed for direct and peripheral damage that might not have been evident at the start. Do not forget to check the extent of wall damage, because you will want to make any necessary repairs as soon as possible to avoid further vulnerability to flooding. Any required resealing should also be performed without delay. Such simple steps may prove key in obviating potential basement-flooding situations in the future.