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How To Clean A Wet Basement

Whether it’s a pesky puddle or several feet of standing water, a flooded basement calls for savvy cleanup. Once you’ve filed a claim and made sure it’s safe to go downstairs, there are a few things you can do to start to sorting out the damage. Watch this short video on what to do when your basement floods. Then, keep reading for even more tips on cleaning up a wet basement.

  1. Oh, no.

    Flooded basement?

    Don’t panic.

    Your friends at American Family Insurance are here with tips to help prevent and repair any damage to your home.

    First up.

    Remember that your safety is always the number one priority.

    Look for these key signs of danger before entering a flooded basement.

    If there are outlets or electrical equipment below the waterline, you’ll need an electrician to shut off the main power. Call your electrical company as soon as possible and stay out of your home until the power’s off.

    Another hazard you’ll want to watch for is potential gas leaks. If you smell gas, leave immediately and contact your gas company.

    Next, check for sewage backup that could contain hazardous bacteria or waste. If you notice signs of sewage, stay out of the water and call a plumber.

    Lastly, remember flooding can cause structural damage to your home. Don’t go inside until it’s determined to be structurally sound.

    All right.

    Once you’re certain your house is safe to enter, the next step is to identify the source of the flooding.

    If the source is a burst pipe or broken appliance like a washing machine, turn off your main water supply. In most homes, you can do this yourself without needing to call an expert.

    If your basement is flooded due to heavy rain or a natural disaster, you may have to wait until the storm passes before you can start cleanup and repairs.

    If your basement is only partially flooded and you’re absolutely certain it’s safe to enter, you may want to remove items like electronics or valuables before the water reaches them.

    OK. Now that water is no longer coming into your basement and you’ve confirmed it’s safe to enter, it’s time to get to work.

    First up, call your American Family Insurance agent.

    If the flooding is due to a covered event, your homeowners insurance may help pay for cleaning and restoration services.

    For example, if your basement suddenly floods due to a burst pipe, overflowing sink or broken appliance, it may be covered by your homeowners policy.

    However, water damage caused by a flooding river or heavy downpour may not be covered by a standard insurance policy.

    Be sure to ask your agent about optional coverages that can help provide extra financial protection against flood damage.

    And remember, your agent can also help recommend contractors even if the flood damage isn’t covered under your insurance.

    All right.

    If you’ve decided to handle cleanup on your own, your first task is to get any remaining water out of your basement.

    Use a wet/dry vacuum, water pumps, mops and buckets, or enlist the help of a professional cleanup company.

    After all the water is out, your next focus is to prevent mold and mildew growth. Running fans, turning on a dehumidifier and opening windows, if the weather is dry, will help lower the humidity.

    If a carpet area floods, you may need to pull up the carpet and replace the padding. If you’re not ready to DIY this, don’t hesitate to call an expert.

    For concrete flooring, your goal is to get it completely dry. So keep running the fan or dehumidifier until it is. Remember, concrete is the foundation of your entire house, so call in a professional, if the damage is severe.

    Lastly, if you have wood flooring disinfect it using a wood-friendly cleaner, then just like concrete, keep the air circulation going until it’s completely dry.

    There you go.

    Now, you have a clean, dry basement to enjoy.

    Ready for more helpful homeowner tips?

    Contact your local agent or visit

    [jingle] American Family Insurance.


Wear Protective Clothing. If you do go into the basement, wear protective gloves and a face mask. Plan on throwing away your shoes after wearing them in the water and make sure you don’t wear them anywhere else in the house. To be on the safe side, throw out any clothing that gets wet.


Ventilate. Open windows and keep fans running. 


Salvage What You Can. Take as many of your belonging as possible out of the flood zone as fast as you can to avoid further damage, mildew, mold and warping. FEMA and the American Red Cross have some helpful tips for post-flooding cleanup. 


Snap Photos Of Your Belongings. As you remove them, keep trackof what you're pulling out and their condition. This can help in the claims process.


Set Out Three Tarps. In your yard or garage, put down tarps and identify them as Clean, Save and Trash. Once a belonging is cleaned, you can move it to the Save tarp.


Eliminate Excess Water. Use a wet/dry vacuum, rags, dehumidifier and fans to dry out the area. Remove any mold or use mold treatment sprays to prevent mold growth.


Remove Furniture, Rugs, Carpets or Flooring. Floor materials that absorbed water must be removed to prevent mold and mildew, including wood flooring, subfloors and padding. Determine what may be salvaged through professional cleaning.


Remove And Replace Drywall. If needed.


Dry & Disinfect. That includes your basement floor, walls, furnace and any other objects that can’t be removed.


When in doubt? Call in the pros. It’ll give you confidence that everything is taken care of – and they can even waterproof your basement in case of a next time!

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Related Topics: Home DIY