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What to Do If You Discover Your Basement Is Flooded

November 28, 2019

A flooded basement can be one of the costliest tragedies to happen to a North Vancouver home, usually costing thousands of dollars – at least – in cleanup.  Worse is that emergency water damage is an ongoing problem.  The damage doesn’t halt once the water stops pouring in.  More and more harm will be done to your home until every drop of water is evacuated.  Literally, every hour that passes will add to the costs of cleaning up the mess and rebuilding afterward.

This is why it’s so vital to know what to do if your North Vancouver home suffers emergency water damage in the basement.  A flooded basement must be dealt with promptly, and in a smart way, if you’re going to minimize the cleanup costs.

Here’s what to do.

How to Clean A Flooded Basement

  1. Stop the flow of water

Obviously, clean up cannot commence until the water stops coming in.  How to accomplish this, of course, depends on the source of the water.

It may be that the flooding accompanied a natural event, such as a major thunderstorm, in which case the water will stop once the weather event stops.  Or, flooded basements are often caused by a burst pipe or appliance failure.  In those cases, you can simply shut off your water at the main outside valve to stop any more damage from occurring.

Where it gets tricky is if you don’t know what the source of the water is, or the source is something you cannot directly control, such as a broken sewer line.  You may have to call in professional water damage experts just to stop the water before cleanup can even proceed.

  1. Document the damage 

You will want plenty of hard recorded documentation of both the initial damage done, as well as the cleanup process.  So, get your phone or camera ready, and start taking a lot of pictures and video.  This will be invaluable when dealing with your insurance company and may also potentially be needed for legal action if some form of criminal negligence led to the flooding.

Do at least a cursory survey of the damage before beginning any cleanup and keep taking pictures throughout the process.

  1. BE SAFE

It is vital to understand that a flooded basement can be extremely dangerous, for two big reasons:

First, the water may be electrified.  Any live wires within the water could deliver harmful or even lethal shocks to anyone who touches the water without proper grounding and anti-conductive protective wear.  In particular, if the floodwaters are high enough to touch your wall power sockets, you should always assume the water is unsafe to touch.  In these cases, you’ll want to shut off all power to your basement at the circuit box before attempting any sort of cleanup.

If the circuit box is in the basement, you’ll have to cut all power to your home at the outdoor box.  There’s no other safe alternative.

Secondly, the water may be contaminated.  This isn’t necessarily an issue if you know where the water came from, such as a fresh-water pipe.  On the other hand, if the flooding comes from a sewage line, the water will be toxic.  Merely touching it could result in poisoning or infection.

If you suspect the water in your basement is contaminated, or you don’t know the source of the water, you want to call a professional wastewater and sewage cleanup crew to take a look before you go diving in.

  1. Remove the water

With all that in mind, it’s time to focus on removing the water from the basement.  If it’s only a small amount of flooding, this can usually be accomplished on your own.  Buckets can work but are slow and ineffective.  A sump pump or other powered pump will be a much better solution for getting the water out of your basement.

If you’re using a pump, it’s unlikely the pump will be able to get the very last dregs of the water.  You’ll need something along the lines of a wet vac to suck up the last of the water.

Remember, you need to be thorough here.  As always, calling in a professional North Vancouver emergency water damage team may be the better option, particularly when time is of the essence.

  1. Remove damaged belongings

Once the standing water is gone, it’s time to start going through your basement looking for items to rescue or remove.

Generally speaking, anything which is absorbent should be considered a lost cause.  Carpeting, stuffed animals, clothing, books…  if it holds water, it’s almost certainly damaged beyond repair.  Plus, if the water was contaminated in any way, that contamination will spread to everything the water touches.  “Better safe than sorry” is very much the rule of thumb here.  No matter how precious an item might be, it’s not worth risking infection, and there’s no 100% reliable way to sterilize such items.

You should, as much as possible, clear off both the floor and the walls.  You need to, before the next step.

  1. Dry out your basement

The true danger of basement flooding isn’t the water itself.  The danger is the mold which will begin to grow within 24-48 hours.  If the basement hasn’t been thoroughly dried by that point, it will start to host mold outbreaks that could threaten your entire house.  If a toxic black mold infestation takes hold, your home could potentially be condemned.

For small-scale floods, this could potentially be accomplished with a combination of air-movers like large fans, as well as major heat sources like space heaters.  Focus in particular on the baseboards and other places that water may have seeped in.

If your drywall has become saturated, it has to go and will need to be replaced.

More than any other step of the process, this is when you should seriously consider bringing in experienced water cleanup pros.  An emergency water damage company has tools at their disposal for large-scale drying operations which private individuals simply aren’t going to have access to.

Again: you have 24-48 hours from initial flooding to dry everything out.  If you don’t think you can do it in time, call in the pros.  The alternative is far worse.

  1. Keep watching for mold

You won’t know immediately if your drying efforts were successful.  Over the course of the next few weeks, you’ll want to keep a close eye on the affected areas.  Even the slightest sign of mold should be treated immediately to keep it from spreading.

  1. Start talking to your insurance company

At some point in this process, but certainly by the time cleanup is complete, you should be on the phone with your home insurance company.  Flooding may or may not be covered by your policy, and the reasons for the flood can also affect coverage.  As mentioned before, there’s also the possibility that the flood was caused by negligence, and legal action will be in order.

Either way, working with your insurance company is the best way to start handing the bureaucratic side of the problem, as well as (hopefully) speeding up the time it takes to receive compensation.

If you need emergency water damage cleanup, Malkin Cleaners has been North Vancouver’s trusted choice for generations.  Contact us to schedule an appointment!