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My Basement Flooded, Now What?

Standing water in a basement is a serious risk. If the build up of water was from a flood, it can harbor dangerous debris or animals. If it was the result of a water main break or sewer backup, it can contain hazardous waste. If it was the result of a leaking or burst pipe, it can accumulate quickly, causing irreversible damage. Obviously, none of these are desirable, but knowing what caused the flood is crucial in determining your next steps.

Flood waters entering your home are more likely to bring in dirty water with bugs and animals, making cleanup more challenging than a simple pipe leak. Similarly, a sewer line issue can cause wastewater to enter your home, necessitating a different degree of cleanup to ensure the safety of your family. Those are specialized situations, but the vast majority of homeowners dealing with a flooded basement are dealing with a situation where a pipe has burst from freezing, a steady leak went undetected, a sump pump has failed, or a hot water heater has cracked. In these situations, you should follow these steps immediately after discovering a basement flood because mold and bacteria can start growing in as little as two hours:

  • Turn the water off from the main shut off to prevent further water from entering your home
  • Turn off power to your home before entering standing water that may carry an electrical charge, otherwise electric shock may result
  • Call an emergency restoration company to come pump out the water immediately
  • Take pictures before moving anything or performing any cleanup activities for insurance purposes
  • If the season and weather allows it, open windows to increase air flow and help the area dry out
  • Remove boxes and other items that are easily carried out
  • Wipe down leather, suede or other delicate materials to keep water marks from forming on exterior surfaces
  • Once the water has been pumped out, find an emergency plumber to come out and fix the plumbing issue that caused the flood
  • Rely on your water restoration company to provide advice on how to proceed next – they’ll know best which additional steps you should take based on the extent of the water damage

Depending on when the water was discovered, how deep it was, and how quickly it was removed, it’s possible that expensive items may be able to be salvaged. Things like furniture and carpet might be able to be saved, but they can still need professional attention to be cleaned up correctly. Baseboards, insulation, and drywall will likely need to be replaced by a local water restoration company because they tend to soak up and hold water, causing permanent damage and acting as a breeding ground for mold after even minimal water damage. Valuables should be assessed on a case-by-case basis to determine how best to salvage them.

Additional Resources:
How to Cleanup After Water Damage
Recovering After a Flood
Do I Have Mold?
Prevent Home Mold Growth
How to File an Insurance Claim After a Flood
Understanding Restoration Costs
The Cost of Restoring a Flooded Basement
Immediate Actions to Take After a Flood
How Quickly Can Mold Grow?
Understanding Residential Flood Damage
Do You have to Replace Carpet After a Water Damage?
Do You Have to Replace Drywall After Water Damage?
Was My Furnace Damaged by Flood Water?