It’s every homeowner’s worst nightmare: a strong storm blows in or perhaps a pipe bursts and you’re left with a flooded basement. The toll of lost personal belongings is crushing and initiating the cleanup process can be a dreadfully daunting task. When a flood strikes, it’s difficult to know where to start.
Before anything else, remember to remain calm. Take a breath and move forward with a clear mind. Flooding can be dangerous so it’s vital to have your wits about you. As horrific as this type of home damage can be, there is a fairly simple protocol to follow to restore your basement to its former state.
Follow these six steps after a basement floods.
Step 1: Assess the Situation
Take a look at the flooded area from a distance. How much water is there? Is it little enough to simply sop up with a towel or is it deeper? Either way, you’ll likely need professional assistance to prevent mold. This evaluation process will dictate the rest of your plan moving forward.
It’s extremely important to never enter the floodwaters. A flooded basement can be an electrical hazard due to exposed wires, outlets, and other electrical appliances. If your circuit breaker is in a convenient spot away from the basement, shut off all the power in your home.
Step 2: Remove the Water
Once you evaluate the scene, it’s time to take a step towards removing the water. If the floodwater is ankle height or higher, you can safely assume your sump pump malfunctioned. You can replace the sump pump to remove some of the water. But afterward, you’ll need to hire a professional to remove the remainder of the excess water from under your carpeting, wood, or laminate flooring. It’s vital to remove as much excess moisture as possible. Mold and mildew can set in as soon as 24 hours after a flood so it’s important to curb this possibility to the best of your ability.
Step 3: Remove Damp Items
After you remove the water you’ll likely be left with damp furniture, boxes, carpet, and more. Leaving them in the basement to dry can slow down the drying process and lead to mold. Place them in a well-ventilated area to dry. Take note of any items damaged beyond repair. You may be able to claim them with your insurance and receive compensation for lost belongings.
Step 4: Completely Dry Out the Affected Area
This is one of the most important steps. To assure you don’t add mold to the list of stressful disasters to deal with, you must remove all moisture from the area. If you’re dealing with the water damage on your own, you’ll likely have to buy or rent an industrial blower or fan. A dehumidifier can also be helpful in wicking away any remaining moisture. But this doesn’t often yield great results and could lead to more damage if done improperly.
You won’t have to worry about securing any of these tools if you enlist the help of a professional. They can also assure the right equipment is used. Professionals utilize industry standards to calculate exactly how many air movers and dehumidifiers will be necessary to get the job done. Throughout the cleanup process, they will use thermal cameras and moisture readers to take note of the level of moisture to assure any impacted areas reach an industry dry standard.
Step 5: Get Ahead of Potential Mold Growth
Now that your basement is completely dried out, you’ll want to take one more step to minimize the risk of a mold outbreak. Mold thrives in dark, humid spaces (aka your basement after a flood) so you’ll want to take every precaution to stop the potential for its growth.
One important way to reduce your risk of mold is to sanitize your entire basement – including the walls and even the ceiling. Once everything is properly cleaned, you can spray the area down with an anti-mildew solution to kill any lingering spores.
Check out our blog for more tips on how to prevent mold.
Step 6: Take Steps to Prevent Future Flooding
Once the worst is behind you, figure out what caused the flood in the first place and fix the issue. This would be a good time to do a thorough evaluation of the area to safeguard your basement against any future flooding.