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What to do if your basement floods

February 19, 2016
A flooded basement doesn't have to be the end of the world if you know what you're doing.

A terrible rainstorm has been raging all night long, and in the morning you find that a few inches of water have seeped into your basement. What do you do? Who do you call? Are there any dangers?

A flooded basement is not an easy problem to deal with, but knowing what to do if the situation arises can help you remain calm and safely spring into action.

Safety measures before entering the basement

You may want to go downstairs and assess the situation, but before you do it is vital you turn off the electricity. If your circuit breaker is in the basement, professional services website Red Beacon recommended using the handle of a mop to flip the switch. Wear rubber boots in case you come in contact with the water, but it's best to avoid touching anything wet until the power is off. If you are not sure if it's safe to enter, you may want to hire an electrician to assess the scene.

"Before you enter the basement, it is vital you make sure the electricity is turned off.”

Red Beacon also discussed how the presence of water has likely stirred up dirt, bacteria, mildew and mold spores. Even more, according to Allergy Consumer Review there can often be sewage and matter from drowned animals in flooded basement water, which can cause allergic reactions. To protect yourself from inhaling anything harmful, wear a face mask and open some windows.

Removing the water Once all possible safety measures have been taken, it's time to remove the water—generally with a pump. If you think there might be oil or any other dangerous substances in the water, the Environmental Protection Agency said to be sure not to pump it out onto the street.

Red Beacon emphasized the need to pump the water out slowly because the presence of water in the basement has transformed it into its own type of weather system. Pumping the water out too fast could create a low-pressure system on the inside and high pressure system on the outside. This creates a risk of the walls caving in.

Now you have gotten the water out, but there is still a lot of work to be done. HGTV explained that first you will need to remove everything from the basement—including any furniture. Then you will probably want to rip up any wet carpet. Use fans to dry out the space, and wash everything down with antibacterial cleaning products.

Red Beacon cautioned not to use any electric appliances that got wet without first having them checked by a professional. Even if a dehumidifier or washing machine still work, leave them alone until you know it's safe to use them.

Do you have insurance?

Keep in mind that flood insurance is not included in a standard home insurance policy. According to the National Flood Insurance Program, if a 2,000 square foot home contains even just 2 inches of water, the repairs and personal property losses could cost you $21,000. For a 1,000 square foot home, 2 inches of water could still cost over $10,000. A flood insurance policy may be a good idea even if you're not in a high-risk area. If you do live in a high-risk area and you have a mortgage, your lender may require you to have a flood insurance policy.