How to Dry a Flooded Basement

When severe weather hits and leaves a basement full of water behind, you need to act quickly. Although cleaning up after a basement flood may seem like an impossible task, it is possible. So, before a storm sweeps through your area and you’re dealing with a flood on your lower level, take a look at these tips on how to manage water removal and restore your basement in the aftermath.

Steps to Take After a Basement Flood

First and foremost: never walk into a room when water is present on the floor. Extension cords or other electrical wiring may be compromised and that standing water could be electrified. There are other important steps to take as well. You need to move quickly in order to keep mold development to a minimum, for instance. In addition to working with our Emergency Water Removal Program, here’s a list of things to do to within the first 24 hours after a flood to get your basement back in shape quickly:

Turn off the electricity. If necessary, contact a licensed electrician to disconnect the power to the basement. Be sure you’ve got high-powered, battery-operated flashlights or flood lamps to help you navigate safely.

Rent a gasoline-powered water pump. Industrial tool rental groups will usually have pumps and hoses suitable for jobs like yours.

Figure out the source of the problem. Once you’ve got the majority of the water out, you’ll need to understand how the flood happened. It’s smart to check in with your sump pump — did it stop working? When it’s safe to do so, power up the sump pump and see if it’s still working. If it is, let the sump collect the rest of the water.

Remove all wet and waterlogged items. Put out the call for volunteers and get all items that have been impacted by the flood water out of the basement. Since you’ll likely be moving boxes and furniture, be sure to lift safely or hire professionals if you’re not up to it. Painful as this may be, you may have to pull up the carpet, padding and other flooring with this type of water damage. When water has made its way into flooring, mold can develop quickly and that can lead to serious health implications for you and your family.

Use a wet-dry vacuum to pull up remaining water. Shop vacuums that can handle water are a great tool for water extraction. Use them to clean out the low lying areas and pull up puddles that remain. Use a squeegee to move water towards floor drains or for collection by the wet-dry vacuum.

Get air flowing through the area. After the water’s up, it’s time to kick the humidity out of your basement. Check back with the tool rental group and reserve a couple of fans to dry out what’s left behind.

Turn on the dehumidifier. Along with airflow, getting the moist air out of your basement is the next step in returning it to a usable space. Be sure to run a hose to a drain — if possible — or empty the water collection bin regularly.

Drying Carpeting After a Flooded Basement

If you’re wondering how to handle wall-to-wall carpeting after a flood, you may be able to salvage the carpeting, but the padding will have to be pulled up and replaced. Here’s how to dry your carpeting after a flood. Be sure to follow the final step to prevent mold from forming.

Get the water out of your basement. Follow the steps outlined above. Use the wet-dry vac to pull water up as much as possible from the carpeting. Think about renting a carpet cleaner to pull water and shampoo the carpet before you pull it up.

Pull the carpet up from the tacking strip. Wall-to-wall carpeting is attached to your floor with a tacking strip along the perimeter. Pull the carpet up off the floor and tent it over chairs and ladders.

Ventilate the drying carpet. Direct fans above and below the tented carpeting, and use your dehumidifier to assist.

Pull the padding. Your padding will likely not be recoverable and will need to be pulled up and thrown away. Get in touch with a carpet installer and get a quote on new padding and re-installing your dried carpeting, if you’re not up to the job yourself.

Sterilize and deodorize. After you’ve dried the carpet and the cement pad is dry, get cleaning chemicals and materials that inhibit the growth of mold and mildew. Apply these chemicals carefully and be sure to follow the safety instructions. Proper ventilation and personal protection equipment — like a respirator — may be required. Hiring a professional steam cleaning group to sanitize the carpeting after it’s re-installed can also help prevent mold from growing.

Cleaning up after a flood can feel like a job that will take weeks. But the majority of the work is setting up the space to keep humidity down while things dry out. As soon as you realize that you’ve got a basement flood, be sure to check in with your American Family Insurance agent. They’re a trusted resource that can help you assess the best way to manage the damage and file a claim.

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