Flooded basement – what to do next?

Flooded basements are not as uncommon, as you might think, especially once the rainy season really hits. Apart from rain, your basement might flood because of internal drainage problems, burst pipes, back up in the city sewer lines or failing appliances.

The different source of the problem will require taking different actions to tackle it. Therefore, the first thing you do when you encounter a flooded basement is to find the source of the problem.

What else do you need to do, when you’re facing a basement flood? Read our expert advice below:

1. Take action depending on the cause of flooding.

If the flood is caused by rain, wait until the storm is over to take action. For any other cause, take action immediately by shutting off power to the basement, shutting off water to the broken fixture or the whole house (if there’s a burst pipe), or calling a plumber immediately, if you suspect there is an issue with your home’s draining system or the city sewer lines.

If the problem is determined to be caused by the city sewer system you’ll need to call your city’s water department, and notify them, so they can attend as soon as possible.

2. Wear protective clothing

If you’re entering the basement, make sure to wear boots, gloves, and clothes protection, regardless of the cause of the flood. Do not step in water, unless you’ve made sure the power/electricity in your basement is turned off. If you don’t know how to do that, your first step should be to call an electrician.

3. Start extracting the water.

A flooded basement is an emergency. You should start extracting the water immediately, as mould can start developing in as little as 24-48 hours. Rotting wood and damp trapped between layers of the building can damage the structure of the building.

Depending on how flooded the basement is you can extract water with a sum pump, pool pump, wet/dry vacuum or even a mop and bucket for smaller floods. If the flood is more significant, or you have electrical wires/appliances in your basement you need to call a qualified plumber.

4. Move damaged items.

Once your basement is accessible, and the water has been removed, it’s time to start saving your belongings. Prioritise important documents, family heirlooms and expensive furniture. Even with the electricity disconnected is best to not touch electronics – leave them to dry, and then bring them to a specialist to assess the amount of damage, and whether a repair is possible. Never leave your belongings to dry inside the basement. After 48 hours carefully inspect for mould, mildew or wet patches. If you notice any developing, unfortunately it’s time to discard these items.

5. Wash everything.

Once the water is removed, mop and wash everything, including the walls with antibacterial products, and ensure the basement is dried out properly.

6. Spray against mould.

As an extra protection use anti-mildew spray to kill any growth that might be beginning to form.

Remember – if you’re not confident to do it alone, when there is a major flood, or electrical cables involved, you should call a plumber, and not try to solve the situation alone.