No house is 100% flood-proof. While there are steps you can take to significantly reduce your risk of getting a flooded basement, that risk will always exist. If you end up with a flooded basement, you need to act quickly and intelligently to prevent damage to both your property and your home. Below is a series of important tips to keep in mind when attempting to clean up a flooded basement.
Upon discovering standing water in your basement, resist the urge to immediately wade in and try to save your possessions. Before you even enter the basement, take the following steps immediately:
- Turn Off the Electricity: The water may be overlapping electronics or wall sockets in your basement. If possible to do so safely, turn off your home’s breakers; if not, don’t take the risk and call the power company to have your electricity shut off directly. Be aware that if you have a sump pump on the property then shutting off the electricity will affect it as well. While having the sump pump off is unhelpful, it’s better than getting electrocuted.
- Call the Professionals: Time is of the essence in responding to a flooded basement. Even if you are confident in your ability to act, the extra hands and professional equipment will still be a significant boon. Contact an emergency flood cleanup and restoration company in order to begin an expedited water removal and remediation process.
- Change Your Clothes: Put on a pair of disposable overalls, get on some rubber gloves, and wear a facemask and protective eyewear. This is doubly important if there has been sewage backup but will be useful regardless since you are going to be dealing with a fair number of cleaning chemicals in a short period.
Salvage, Dry, and Restore
When the flood response team arrives, give them a hand in setting up and positioning equipment. While their pumps and fans are draining the water and drying the basement, you can focus on clearing your belongings.
- Get Electrical Items Out First: Any television sets, CD players, game consoles, lamps, and the like are best removed immediately. Even if the electricity has been shut off, wet electronics are still a potential hazard.
- Organize as You Remove: While you will want to eventually clear the basement of all movable items, it’s important to keep things orderly. Keep salvageable and written-off items separate and write a list of what you remove. Your insurance company will appreciate it, and in some cases may end up involved in the itemization process.
- Remove Rug Padding: If dried quickly enough, some rugs may be salvageable. This does not, however, apply to the padding on the underside of a rug; those are like sponges and will quickly become a breeding ground for mould and bacteria. When you remove a rug from a flooded basement, remember to strip the padding away.
- Disinfect: This is especially important when dealing with sewage backup, but any form of standing water can support mould and bacteria growth. Once the water in the basement has been removed and the surfaces dried, clean any wood beams, drywall, etc. with a good disinfectant. Make sure to keep the basement well-ventilated during this process. Also, do not use bleach for your disinfectant, as bleach has limited effect on mould and the fumes are highly unpleasant.
Flood Services Canada Inc. is a leader in emergency flood remediation, as well as mould, sewage backup, and fire and smoke damage cleanup. Our rapid response teams can quickly get to work to prevent and mitigate flood and leak damage and aid in the restoration process. More information on our water damage restoration techniques can be found here.