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How to Clean Your Flooded or Leaking Basement

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flooded basement

Cleaning a flooded basement can be difficult. In fact, many people don’t know whether they can do it on their own or if they need help from someone else. Although you can do some steps on your own, significant amounts of flooding will probably need help from an expert. The fact is that it depends entirely on the extent of the flooding and the issues you’re dealing with.

If you’re in a position where you need to clean a flooded basement, there are some parts you might be able to do on your own and some parts you’ll probably need to call an expert for. Here’s exactly how you can clean your flooded basement, as well as some guidance for the steps that might need an expert’s touch.

General Precautions for Flooded Basements

There are some general precautions you should take the entire time you’re dealing with flooding in your basement. If you consistently think about these general precautions, you’ll be more likely to clean up your basement on your own — at least as much as you can without professional help.

Be Careful 

Probably the most important tip you can take away from this article is that you have to be extremely careful when you’re handling flooding in your basement. There are all sorts of hazards that can pop up with flooding in a basement, from exposed electrical wires to pests and even mold and mildew spores that grow easily around flooded areas.

When you’re careful, you’re more likely to think about what you’re doing before you do it. From there, that means you’re less likely to make bad decisions that could have potentially deadly consequences. Being careful is mandatory whenever you’re handling a home issue, but it’s even more important than normal with basement flooding because of the elevated stakes.

Make Sure It’s Safe 

Is it safe for you to go down into your basement and try to fix the flooding issues? Although you might think so, you should never assume it’s safe. Many people have suffered serious accidents because they assumed the safety of something that wasn’t very safe. If you want to clean out your flooded basement, you’re going to need to look and make sure for yourself that it’s really safe.

The best thing to do here is to inspect the outside of your home before you go wading into the inside. Look around your basement for things like foundation cracks, loose gas lines, broken gas lines, electrical wires, or any indication that the area could have something broken. If you see any of these signs, make sure you contact a professional instead of moving on by yourself.

Buy the Right Equipment  

It’s also important that you buy the right equipment. It probably isn’t good enough to just put on a pair of jeans and go in with nothing else. Although you might not need all the equipment that a professional will have, especially if you’re only dealing with a small amount of flooding, it’s a good idea to have the equipment that will keep you safe in case the water does have something unsafe in it. 

The proper safety equipment in this situation includes hip waders if the water is higher than about halfway up your leg or rubber boots if the water is very low. You should also invest in high-quality rubber gloves and goggles. With all this equipment, the likelihood that you’ll have a serious accident goes down substantially.

The Steps for Cleaning your Flooded or Leaking Basement

Now that you’ve gotten all the right security equipment and ensured it’s safe for you to be in the basement, what’s next? It’s important that you go through the various steps to clean the basement properly. From start to finish, here’s how you clean out your flooded basement.

Prepare to Enter the Basement 

It’s important that you put a lot of emphasis on getting ready to enter the basement properly. First, open the basement windows if you have any. Surprisingly, many people forget to open basement windows before cleaning. However, it’s important to do this because it helps to bring fresh air into the basement and remove stale, humid air.

It’s also extremely important that you turn off all fuel sources to the basement. The last thing you want is to wade into electrified water or go into a basement that’s full of propane. Turn off electricity, gas, propane, and any other fuel sources you may utilize. If there’s no way to turn off these sources only to the basement, you may need to take a break and just turn them off for the entire home. If you’re uncertain about your ability to do this, call a professional instead.

Remove the Standing Water 

The next step of the process is to remove any current standing water in your basement. Flooded basements, by definition, will have some amount of standing groundwater in them. The amount may vary from basement to basement, of course. That’s why there are many different methods of removing standing water from a basement.

Note that if you have any significant amount of water, you might want to leave it to the waterproofing experts. The water on the inside of your basement may already be equalizing hydrostatic pressure from the outside of your basement. That means if you remove a large amount of water from the basement without thinking carefully about the methods you’re using and the speed at which you’re using them, you might crack the basement foundation or even end up with a collapsed wall.

Remove Damaged Items and Debris 

After you’ve removed the water from your basement, you’ll end up with a pretty big mess. This is especially true if you stored anything in your basement or if you had a very serious flood. The quality of the basement in the first place will also have an impact on the mess it leaves behind; if you had a dirt floor or a poorly insulated floor, you’re going to have more damage than otherwise.

The first step is to shovel out any dirt and debris that’s collected on the floor of the basement. Once you’ve done that, you need to remove any items the flooding damaged. You should probably also remove any items the flooding didn’t damage. That way, you’ll be able to clean the basement and dry it out entirely. 

Dry Out the Space 

Next, it’s important that you remove any lingering moisture. Moisture is definitely going to linger around the area as long as you allow it to, and that provides a fertile ground for mold and mildew, as well as worsening allergies and general respiratory issues. That’s why you need to dry out the space in an aggressive manner if possible.

Blowers, dehumidifiers, and other drying equipment are usually great options for handling the drying out of a space after it’s flooded. Specifically, you should consider a basement dehumidifier to reduce the moisture levels to the proper level. Depending on your state of moisture concerns, the basement dehumidifier might be necessary on a regular basis as well.

Clean Every Surface 

Lastly, you have to disinfect every surface that was covered with water. Water is a great way to transmit bacteria, and any bacteria that happened to exist on any of the surfaces probably transferred between many of the different surfaces. Plus, depending on how long your basement was flooded, mold, mildew, and other bacteria may have started growing, which could have led to even worse problems.

That’s why it’s so important to disinfect all the surfaces. When you disinfect these surfaces rather than just drying them out and leaving them alone, you know you’re killing any of the bacteria that happened to be on the surfaces before or after the flooding. That way, you can continue to use your basement in peace. In most cases, you can use a diluted bleach mixture to disinfect these surfaces effectively.

Avoiding Flooding Basements in the Future

Of course, cleaning up after a flood is just one part of the puzzle. If you want to make sure you’re really avoiding the challenges that tend to come with flooding, you need to think about how you can avoid the next flood that comes around. These are a few of the most popular ways to do that.

Sump Pump 

One of the most popular solutions to basement flooding is a sump pump. Although many people use sump pumps if they have regularly recurring basement floods or basement drainage issues, this doesn’t have to be the only time you use a sump pump. Many people have a sump pump they very rarely use because they want to be prepared in case a basement flood ever comes their way.

Most homeowners don’t really plan for a flood to come around, but it’s a fact of life that you’re probably going to experience basement flooding at some point. Why not be prepared? When you have a sump pump in your basement, your sump pump can start pumping basement water out as soon as it enters or is collected by an interior drainage system like BasementGutter™, making it less likely that you’ll experience significant property damage.

Close Crawl Space Vents 

If you have any open crawl space or basement vents, it’s vitally important that you close them. In the past, crawl space vents were a common and important part of the crawl space because people believed they helped to “air out” the crawl space. These people thought the crawl space vents allowed the crawl space to stay nice and dry. However, nowadays, people have realized that crawl space vents actually do more harm than good.

One of the biggest impacts of crawl space and basement vents is that they allow a lot more humidity into the area. However, humidity isn’t necessarily the only thing vents allow into the area. If you have a flood in your area, these vents can also allow water into your crawl space or basement. Although most of these vents offer the ability to close them if need be, many homeowners forget or don’t take advantage of this option, leading to a thoroughly waterlogged basement.

Improve Your Basement Waterproofing 

The last big thing you can do is improve your waterproofing strategy overall. When was the last time you revisited your basement waterproofing? Do you know if your basement is waterproof enough to handle any floods or heavy rains in your area? Are you positive you never have any water pooling into your basement through nearly invisible cracks in the walls? If you aren’t sure about any of these questions, there’s nothing wrong with contacting an expert who can help you answer them.

Improving your waterproofing strategy might not be as easy as just calling in an expert and having them recommend the best fix. Sometimes, waterproofing requires a multi-day fix that you aren’t able to speed up. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that waterproofing isn’t worth the time and energy. If you have a basement, it’s a good idea to invest in waterproofing for that basement. After all, would you rather invest the time and energy into waterproofing your basement now, or would you rather spend more time and energy replacing and cleaning things next time your basement floods?

The Experts at JES can Help!

If you’re not sure how to clean a flooded or Leaking basement, give us a call at 757-301-4820, and schedule a free inspection. We’ll find out the cause of the problem, and moreover, help you find the perfect solution.


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