What To Do When Your Basement Floods

A flooded basement can give even the most confident homeowner a sense of helplessness and panic. Use these helpful tips so you know what to do when your basement floods. 
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Unexpected issues in your home are common, so when something breaks or leaks or makes a strange noise, know that you’re not alone.  

We’ve put together this list of what to look out for and what to do if your basement is flooded with water. From leaky pipes to damaged pipes and everything else that might lead to basement flooding repair, here are some things you can do if your home is flooded

  • If you have water in the basement, shut off any power around the area, including electricity and gas. Never enter a flooded area while the power is on. Call a qualified electrician before entering the room if you aren’t sure how to shut these areas off. 
  • If you have flood insurance, call your home insurance company and report the flood. Confirm your coverage limits, deductible amount, and claim procedures. 
  • Regardless of the water source, wear boots and gloves for protection. You can also take the extra precaution to wear a protective mask. Hip or chest waders may also be useful if the water reaches higher than your knees. Take care when walking and moving around in the flooded area since it will likely be a slipping hazard. 
  • Determine the source of the water. If a burst pipe is the cause of the flood, shut off water to the basement. If there’s water in the basement after rain, make sure the storm is over before assessing the damage and getting to work on repairs. 
  • If your basement has a floor drain, check that it didn’t become clogged during the flood. Keeping it open and functioning will help drain the water. 
  • Find a way to remove or pump water out of 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 a flood. Without a sump pump, water can come up through the ground and enter the home, causing flooding in the basement and other parts of the house.  
  • After most of the water has been removed, soak up the remainder with a cloth or sponges. Why not ask a family member or a neighbor for help? An extra set of hands can make the water removal go faster. 
  • 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 consult an electrician or other qualified contractor to determine the amount of damage. 
  • Move damaged items out of the basement to dry in a well-ventilated area. It’s best not to dry out things inside the basement, which is already damp. If weather permits, a sunny place may be the best option. A good rule of thumb is to give items about 48 hours to dry thoroughly. If they’re still wet after this time frame, either give them a bit more time or consider discarding them to avoid developing mold and mildew. If you were storing things in cardboard boxes, salvage the contents of the boxes if you can, and discard the cardboard containers (which are susceptible to bacterial growth). 
  • Rip up any carpeting and get it out of the flooded 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 dry out these materials adequately, sometimes wet carpeting can be saved. Consult a restoration specialist or a carpet cleaning contractor for recommendations on how to dry it properly so that it doesn’t harbor mold and mildew. 
  • Give the basement several days of drying time before taking on any major basement flooding repair. 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 from your local home improvement store. 
  • Wash down floors and walls to remove any dirt left behind by the water. Remove any wet or damaged drywall and insulation to prevent mold from spreading. 
  • When the floor and walls are dry, use an anti-mildew spray to prevent mildew and mold from developing in the future. 

Unexpected issues at home happen, but you can protect the items you use every day with an American Home Shield® home warranty, which covers parts of up to 23 home systems and appliances including your A/C, heating system, water heater, clothes washer and dryer, refrigerator, and more.  

Our home warranty coverage also includes a plumbing warranty to help keep things up and running when a covered issue with your interior plumbing lines occurs. 

Should you call a professional for help with your flooded basement?  

You may want to ask for help if the water is more than several feet deep or if you see mold or mildew developing. If you’ve spent time waterproofing your basement and it still flooded, or if you don’t know what caused your basement to flood, it's a good idea to get a professional opinion to understand the basement flooding solutions available to you. Depending on your specific situation, you might want to consult a plumbing contractor, a basement waterproofing company, a disaster restoration specialist, or a combination of specialists. If your home insurance company is involved, ask if they have a specific vendor that they recommend for flood mitigation. 

Basement flooding repair is never an easy experience, but knowing how to fix basement flooding right away can help reduce any long-term damage to your property. 

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