Here’s What to Do When Your Basement Floods

A basement flood is alarming, but don't charge into the murky water. There are some precautions you must take.

When you experience your first basement flood, it’s amazing how your vocabulary becomes simplified to a few four-letter words. Let them out if you must, but remember this one especially:

STOP!

Stepping into basement flood water is more dangerous than it looks.

Basement Flood Safety Tips

A basement flood, especially your first one, is an alarming experience. But you have to slow down. It’s going to take time to fix this problem and if you charge down the stairs into that murky mess with electrical appliances and/or outlets already underwater, you risk serious injury. Never set foot in basement flood water if there is a chance the water could transmit an electrical charge. If you’re not sure, stay out of the basement until you can ensure that the power to the basement is turned off. This may require an electrician.

As a general rule, if there are more than 2 inches of water throughout the entire basement, don’t step into the water. You need to be concerned about electricity and gas. Turn off power to the basement if you can safely access the main electrical service panel without stepping in the water. If not, call an electrician. If water is in an area with gas-powered appliances, like the furnace or water heater, call the gas company to turn off the gas. Smell gas? A pilot light may be out. Leave your home immediately and call the gas company.

Main Causes of Basement Floods

According to Basement Systems, a basement improvement company, typical causes of a basement flood are plumbing leaks, sieve-like basement windows, and permeable basement foundations that let in rain or groundwater. Other flood sources include backed-up sump pumps, improperly positioned downspouts, and broken appliances.

First Steps To Take After a Basement Floods

Once any and all sources of electricity and gas in your basement have been shut off, your next priority needs to be getting the water pumped out. If there are only a few inches of standing water or less covering the floor, you should be able to remove it with a pump or a wet vac. Once the standing water has been removed from the basement set up dehumidifiers and fans to dry things out. Floodwater can often be very dirty, so make sure to scrub and clean any surface that was exposed to the water. If something porous like a rug or a blanket got drenched in potentially toxic floodwater, it’s probably for the best to just throw it out.

DIY vs. Professional Flooded Basement Cleanup

Cleaning up a minor flood on your own is a good idea if you’re trying to save some money and are willing to put in the work. But if you’re dealing with more than a few inches of floodwater, it’s probably best to call in professional help. Professional flood cleanup services will have the exact tools and gear needed to get the water out of your basement. They’ll also be able to help you accurately identify the source of the flooding and take preventative measures to keep it from happening again.