How to Deal With Regular Basement Flooding
April showers are supposed to bring May flowers ... but sometimes, they bring another round of flooding to your basement.
If you’ve got a frequent-flooding situation on your lower level, it's time to take action to prevent it from happening again.
First Things First: Prevent Damage
A basement can flood for a variety of reasons. It's common when you get heavy rain, but it can also be due to issues you can fix, such as bad gutters or the slope of your landscaping. Flooding can damage your belongings, and it can pose several risks to your health and safety. Cleaning the mess quickly can prevent water damage.
Standing water in your basement can cause safety hazards, including the risk of electrocution. Shutting off the power to the basement can reduce your chances of getting shocked when you clean the water. If the flooding is due to a broken plumbing pipe, shut off the water main to prevent more water from flowing into your home.
If your homeowners insurance covers the cause of the flooding, take photos to document the damage. Most flooding isn't covered unless you have a special flood insurance policy. However, water damage from plumbing or an appliance may be covered if it's sudden and accidental.
Before you clean a flooded basement, grab rubber boots and gloves to keep yourself safe. The water could be contaminated with sewage or chemicals, so you want to keep as much of the water off your skin as possible.
Move items out of the flooded basement as soon as possible. While some items might not be salvageable, you should air-dry the items you want to save to prevent molding.
Once the water recedes, open your windows to let the space air out and dry. You can use fans or dehumidifiers to help dry the area, but ensure they're plugged into a safe outlet and not sitting in water.
Since the water could be contaminated, you'll want to clean and disinfect all areas the water touched. Diluting bleach in water is a good way to sanitize the basement, especially concrete walls and floors. Use bleach with caution on other types of flooring and other surfaces. If the basement is finished, you'll likely need to tear out carpet, drywall and other materials.
How to Minimize Future Flooding
Rearranging your basement can minimize damage from future flooding. Move any irreplaceable items out of the basement for safer storage. Placing items on higher shelves or elevating them on risers can help if you don't get a lot of water in your basement.
Clogged or poorly installed gutters can contribute to basement flooding. Clean your gutters and ensure they work effectively. Extending your downspouts can direct water away from your foundation for additional protection.
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If the area around your foundation is flat or slopes toward the foundation, water can run toward your basement and get trapped there, increasing the chances of it getting inside. Build up the soil, so the ground slopes away from your foundation. A professional landscaping company can help you deal with a larger grading issue. For example, if your home is on a slope that goes directly toward your foundation, you might need to make changes to give the water a different path.
Sump pumps go in the basement and can prevent flooding during heavy rains. The pump sits in a pit in the basement floor. When water levels get high, the pump starts running. It moves water out of your basement and directs it a safe distance away from the house. If you have basement flooding issues when it rains, consider having a sump pump installed. If your power goes out regularly during storms, a model with a battery backup will ensure it keeps working, even if you lose power.
Another possible solution is to have a basement drainage system installed. Both interior and exterior drain options are available. Exterior drain systems direct the water away from your home before it enters your basement. Interior drain systems are built into the floor and direct water to a sump pump if it gets into your basement.
Sometimes water enters through cracks or other damaged areas. Hire a contractor to fix foundation cracks to minimize this issue. You might also need to have repairs done on your basement windows if they allow water to leak inside your home. Sealing your basement walls with various coatings or paints can also help prevent water damage. A basement or foundation contractor can evaluate your situation and recommend the best solutions.
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