Your Basement Flooded. Now What?

If you find your basement floor submerged under a foot of water, don’t panic. You’ve got this! Act quickly enough and you’ll be able to avoid the common ill effects that come with a flood — things like the ruining of personal belongings, loss of your basement’s usability and a number of threats to your family’s health.

What Causes Basement Flooding?

As the lowest level of your home, your basement is the part of your home most susceptible to flooding. There are a number of reasons your basement could flood. Here are some of the most common causes:

Foundation cracks. Heavy rain, water-saturated ground and the pressure that results can cause cracks in your foundation, leaving your basement vulnerable to groundwater and other moisture.

Leaky or broken pipes. Pipe leaks are common. When you notice a minor leak in your plumbing, have it corrected immediately — plenty of floods caused by faulty pipes start as small leaks that could have been fixed affordably early on.

Broken sump pump. A sump pump defends your basement from floods by pumping encroaching water away from your home. But when it fails, it leaves your basement vulnerable to flooding.

Overflowing gutters or faulty downspouts. If your gutters and downspouts are full of leaves, ice, or aren’t disposing of water far enough away from your home, that water could make its way into your basement.

What to Do When Your Basement Floods

It’s easy to panic and think the worst when you notice that your basement is flooded. Take a deep breath and follow these steps carefully to mitigate the damage and get your life back to normal as soon as possible:

Evaluate Potential Hazards

Floods come with a whole host of problems beyond the damage to your belongings and your house’s structure. Before you enter your flooded basement, homeowners should check thoroughly for these dangers:

Electrical shock. If you have electrical outlets or electrical equipment below the water line, stay out of your home until the power can be turned off. If this is the case, shutting off the main power is a job for a professional and shouldn’t be attempted by homeowners. Contact your electrical company as soon as possible.

Gas leaks. If you smell gas, leave the house immediately and contact your gas company. Gas leaks are extremely harmful to your health and can lead to fires or explosions if they come in contact with electric or heat sources.

Contamination. If your basement flooded due to a sewage backup, that water could contain bacteria and raw sewage that are extremely dangerous to your health. Don’t wade in — instead, get in touch with a professional plumber as soon as possible.

Structural damage. No matter how that water got into your home, it could cause damage to your home’s structure. Don’t go in the house until it’s determined to be structurally sound.

Find the Source of the Flooding

Once you’ve made sure your home is safe to enter, it’s time to figure out what caused your home to flood. If the source is a burst pipe, turn off your water supply. If it’s from something else like a flooded body of water or heavy rain, wait until the storm has passed and conditions have improved before clearing out the water.

Remove the Water From Your Basement

After you’ve identified the source of the flooding and can be certain that it’s done pouring water into your basement, it’s time to clean up the mess. Use a wet/dry vacuum, water pumps, mops, buckets and/or enlist the help of a professional cleanup company to get the water out.

Time is of the essence when cleaning up your flooded basement. Water and residual moisture are a perfect breeding ground for mold, mildew and harmful bacteria that could endanger your family’s health and further damage your home and belongings.

Who to Call When Your Basement Floods

Not all flooded basements can be handled by homeowners. Sometimes, it’s best to call professionals and let them do what they do best. Reach out to professionals right away in the following situations:

A pipe burst. Contact a plumber and turn off the main water valve, if possible.

Electrical problems. Any sort of issues with your electricity should lead you to evacuate your home right away and call an electrician and your electric company.

Your sewer backed up. Contact a plumber and don’t use any plumbing or water until they can assess the situation.

Your furnace failed. Furnaces are often impacted and damaged during floods. If yours has fallen victim to the intruding water, contact an HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) professional right away.

When to Call Your Insurance Agent

Contact your American Family Insurance agent as soon as possible when you notice damage to your basement. And before any sort of damage ever occurs, talk with your agent about getting the protection and peace of mind you deserve — they’re always happy to help.

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Related Topics: Owning A Home