One of the worst things that can happen to a basement is when it becomes flooded. There are a myriad of reasons that this can happen, but cleaning up the mess is pretty much the same. When you first find your basement flooded, to the time it is completely cleaned up, is a lot of work and will require some time, but the sooner it is all cleaned up the better. Always be sure to call your insurance company to see what they will help with and cover.
First Things First
The first thing you should do if your basement floods, is use extreme caution when approaching the area. Water safety should be the first priority and if there is electricity flowing through the water, you could sustain some very serious injuries. Be sure and contact the utilities company to make sure the power is cut off before touching the water. The second thing you should do is find out why the basement is flooded. If you are going to be fighting a sustained leak, there is no chance you will win and will waste a lot of time and energy trying to clean up a mess that is going to be there again shortly. The area needs to be fixed first, so find the leak as quickly as possible.
Dry Weather Flooding Problems
Water supply-line break or hot water tank failure.
Either one of these can be a direct cause of old plumbing lines or equipment, frozen pipes that have split, or even a punctured pipe caused while doing yard work or construction. This can also be a cause of diy plumbing gone wrong.
A blocked sanitary lateral.
All pipes will degrade over time. Tree roots interfere with the lateral pipe. No matter what the cause, it is very likely that something caused a sewage backup in this pipe and it needs to be cleared. This usually required digging up the yard to get to the leak in order to fix it.
Foundation drainage failure.
Before a home is built, there are gravity foundation systems that are put into place to help prevent basement flooding by using principles of gravity. Sometimes these break or just areas crack and will not drain properly. Sump pumps are installed as part of this process and sometimes it fails as well.
Wet Weather Flooding
Sump Pump Failure.
Homes that have a hard time keeping up with the groundwater around it, a sump pump will be installed to help assist in the flooding efforts. Sometimes these fail or have too much water coming at once to handle. If it fails there should be a backup pump that turns on to help, but sometimes they just don’t work. This is all attributed to as foundation drainage failure as well depending on the problem. It can also be weeping tile failure which is also part of the draining system installed during construction.
Drying Out a Wet Basement
After isolating and fixing the problem, there is a lot of work left to be done. You will need to make sure that the flooring is completely dried out and so are the walls. Damage can be done to all of these areas but the biggest threat of lingering moisture is going to be the risk of mold. It can even end up affecting the flooring of the main floor just above the basement. Try to salvage everything that matters by getting it dried and disinfected and even professionally cleaned if necessary.
Prevention is Key
The best plumbing tips are to try and prevent this from happening again by keeping up with home maintenance, watch what goes down the drains, install proper equipment for draining, and trusting a professional plumber for all your plumbing needs. If you have land that is sloped toward your home, take note and help to direct the flow of water away from your home. Also, be sure you have a flood policy for your home.
Amanda Peters is a plumbing and home maintenance expert who writes for Ben Franklin Plumbing. She covers topics ranging from water quality and treatment to DIY disasters. Check back here at the Ben Franklin blog for more plumbing tips and information on common maintenance and remodeling questions.