Water is essential to your daily life, but it’s never a good sign when it gets into your home. Winterizing your yard and your house goes a long way toward preventing seeping and flooding, but sometimes circumstances beyond your control can cause water to infiltrate your house’s barriers. The possible causes of flooding in a basement are numerous, but when water is present, it’s important to act quickly to prevent further damage.
Water causes damage to your home and belongings, creates foul smells, and promotes mold growth, so it’s crucial that you act fast when flooding or seeping occurs in your basement. Here are some things you should do immediately.
Take safety precautions
Your subterranean level houses a lot of electrical equipment, so electrical shock is an immediate concern. When gas appliances are present, if water puts out the pilot light, gas could also be leaking and pose a dangerous situation. If any of the below hazards are occurring in your wet basement, call a professional right away and wait for them to arrive before you take action.
- Water is higher than two inches
- Water is approaching gas appliances
- You smell gas
If you determine that it’s safe to reach your electrical panel, it’s a good idea to shut off electricity to the basement to prevent shocks or fire as you proceed.
Try to locate the water’s source and contain the leak
Once you’ve determined that it’s safe to enter the basement, try your best to identify what the problem is. If you’re able to locate the leak, you can prevent further flooding and damage. Here are some likely culprits of water in the basement.
- A pipe has burst.
- Rainwater is coming in from walls, windows, or the foundation.
- There’s a problem with the floor drain.
- Appliances are leaking.
If a pipe has burst or an appliance is leaking, shut off the water in that area. For floor drain issues or flooding from a rain storm, repairs by a professional will likely be needed.
Remove any belongings that are vulnerable to water damage
Any items being stored in the area that could be damaged by water or develop mold because of it should be removed, cleaned up, and stored elsewhere as you clean the basement. Susceptible items include:
- Fabric goods
- Paper and cardboard
- Wood furniture
- Leather upholstery
Once you’ve fixed the culprit of unwanted water in your basement, it’s time to clean up and dry out your basement. The longer the basement remains wet, the higher the chance of damages to your home and belongings. The method for removing water and drying your basement will vary depending on the amount of water.
- For smaller puddles, use a mop to soak up the water and wring it into a bucket.
- If the water is too much for a mop, use a wet vacuum to suck it up and dispose of it.
- If the water level is more than an inch or so, use a submersible pump or call a water restoration company.
After most of the water has been removed, get some airflow in the space to encourage any remaining moisture to dry quickly. Place industrial fans in the basement, or run a dehumidifier for a few days.
The next step in addressing your basement water woes is to fix any reoccurring issues so that your basement doesn’t flood again. There are many possible culprits for the water’s presence, but you can usually locate the issue easily.
Water came from the exterior foundation wall
If you locate the source of the water and it’s coming from the foundation wall, or if there is water staining on the walls, it’s an indication that rainwater isn’t draining away from the house properly. Likely culprits are:
- Clogged or leaking gutters. Examine your gutters, clean them out, and repair them if needed.
- Too-short downspouts. If downspout puddles are closer than 10 feet from the house, install longer downspouts.
- Cracked pavement near the house. You’ll have to repair the cracked pavement to prevent water from draining through the soil toward the house.
- Improper slope in landscape. Contact a landscaping company to see what your options are to correct this.
- A roof leak. Examine roof shingles and replace any that are damaged.
Water coverage was more than 2 inches deep
Large amounts of water in the basement indicate a much larger issue than a simple-fix leak. This indicates that your home’s drainage system isn’t able to handle the load of rainwater or melting snow. Likely culprits include:
- Sump pump failure. Call a plumbing company to examine the sump pump and repair or replace it.
- Broken pipe in plumbing or an appliance. You can repair broken pipes with plumber’s tape or repair clamps.
- Leaking windows. Reseal windows or replace them.
- Clogged window wells. Clear window wells of debris, and consider adding window well covers.
- Municipal storm sewer backup. This is an issue with the city’s system, so you’ll want to make sure they are aware of the problem you’re seeing.
If water came in from the outside, exterior drainage is the likely culprit, and it’s best to address the source of the problem outside first. There are, however, waterproofing sealants that you can apply to basement walls to prevent water from seeping through them.
Water in your basement is a huge headache, but the issue needs to be addressed quickly to ensure the least amount of water damage. If the worst should happen, the most important steps to take are staying safe from electrical hazards, stopping the water leak source, and getting rid of the water to prevent mold.
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