Under the right (or wrong, as the case may be) circumstances, any basement can be prone to flooding. As we head into the infamous month of spring showers, it’s important to be aware of your home’s flood risk and to be informed about the steps you should take to protect your home and your family in the event of basement flooding.
First thing’s first: If there’s standing water in your basement, you need to be cautious about the danger of electrocution. Before you start plugging in equipment to help you drain and dry the basement, make sure it’s safe to do so. If there’s only an inch or so of water, you can lay down some dry planks of wood to walk on as you make your way to the service panel to switch off the basement circuits. When you set up drying equipment, be careful to keep cords out of the water.
Alternatively, if there’s more than an inch of water and it reaches above the height of outlets, your risk of electrocution multiplies. It is not safe to set foot in the basement until it’s fully drained. In this situation, you’ll have to call the fire department for help pumping out your basement, unless you’re able to rent a heavy-duty gas-engine pump with a long hose and do it yourself.
The only circumstance in which you should descend into the basement while it is still flooded is if you’re house has been completely disconnected from the electrical grid, which must be done by a professional electrician, utility employee, or trained firefighter.
Basement floods can be incredibly expensive to repair. To minimize damage, start by drying out the basement as quickly as you can. Rent a wet vac or similar piece of equipment to suck up puddles of water. A humidifier can help you dry out the basement once the standing water has been removed. Even if your basement isn’t a finished living space, allowing any remaining dampness to linger can spawn mold or cause hardwood floors on the levels above to buckle from the condensation.
Remove organic items such as bedding, towels, and upholstery that were exposed to the floodwaters. If they haven’t dried out after 48 hours, dispose of them. They will start to mold. The same goes for drywall, insulation, wood, and carpet in your basement. Even slight dampness will cause mold to grow, creating a serious health hazard. Inspect these materials right away, replacing any wet or damp areas. Any wood flooring or trim should also be replaced.
Under no circumstances should you attempt to salvage any electrical or mechanical equipment that was exposed to the floodwater. This means all outlets, switches, fixtures, wiring, and gas-fired appliances need to be removed and replaced.
To prevent basement flooding this spring, make sure you’ve taken steps to weatherproof your basement. If your home is in a high-risk area, you could also consider installing a backup sump pump or generator to keep the pump going even if you lose power, or if your primary pump fails for another reason.
Even a weatherproofed basement can be prone to flooding if your area experiences enough rain in a short period of time, so make sure to keep a close an eye on your basement during storms so that you can react as quickly as possible if it starts retaining water.
In the event of a serious basement flood, Bonfe is available 24/7 to provide emergency service to the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.