On the heels of extensive flash flooding occurring in parts of Boulder, Colorado today, I wanted to offer some useful tips to those facing basement flooding. As someone who has dealt with this issue on numerous occasions, and much worse (hey, that’s why we’re elevating our house), I’ve learned a few things. *if your house has endured flooding higher than your basement, you’ve come to the right place.
Dumpster needed to dispose of flood damaged walls, floors, insulation, etc.
USEFUL TIPS TO HANDLE BASEMENT FLOODING:
1. TAKE ACTION IMMEDIATELY: The longer water sits, the more damage it is going to cause to everything that it touches.
2. FLOOD WATER VS. GROUND WATER: Whenever there is excessive water with no where else to go, it will find its way in – it’s sneaky that way. Determine if the water in your basement is floodwater or ground water. The former is a much bigger problem. Floodwater is composed of pesticides, chemical run off, animal waste, etc. It’s nasty. Ground water that seeps into your basement through the foundation is usually clean, hence a much easier clean up process.
3. SAFETY FIRST: Water is a phenomenal conductor of electricity – ever wonder why they insist on emptying the swimming pool at the first clap of thunder? Use caution when entering an area where the floor is covered with water. If the water is covering any electrical outlets, don’t go in – unless you are confident that you know how to shut of the electricity to this area first.
4. CALL YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY: This is an area they should be well versed in as flooding happens everywhere. They can advise you on how to file a claim, let you know what is covered and what is not, and possibly provide some names of service providers to assist you with the clean-up. Your homeowners insurance may or may not cover this. If you have flood insurance, the link below will help you determine what is covered in a basement and what is not:
5. TAKE PICTURES OF EVERYTHING: If you plan to submit a claim to your insurance company, document everything before you start your clean up efforts. The more pictures you have, the better odds of getting reimbursed. Everything from your carpets, to shoes, to toppled over furniture, etc. If you have them, gather receipts for everything that you want to claim, it will expedite the insurance process.
6. WHEN IN DOUBT, THROW IT OUT: Only after you have taken many pictures should you begin to clean up the area. If you are dealing with floodwater, it’s easy – almost everything should be thrown into a pile to be thrown out. If you have content insurance as part of your flood insurance policy, an insurance adjuster may want to see all of the damaged items – so don’t throw them away just yet. Keep the items in a heap pile outside, if you are able.
If it’s ground water that has flooded your basement, you can safely keep almost everything that was not destroyed by the water. Water is surprisingly destructive. Area rugs should be rolled up and sent out to be professionally cleaned. Wall-to-wall carpeting may or may not be able to be salvaged, depending upon how badly it was saturated. The main problem you are going to need to mitigate against is mold.
7. CONTACT SERVICE PROFESSIONALS: There are many service providers who are experts at dealing with basement flooding. Let them help you. They cover everything from pumping out the water to sanitizing the space to throughly drying it out. The methods they may employ to dry out the space generally comes in the form of heat and/or industrial fans.
Basement flooded in 2004
Drying equipment to dry out basement that had been flooded.
The photo above shows several drying equipment pieces that were used to provide 24 hours of a high-heat blast to the basement in an effort to dry it out. This was after a flood event in 2011. We’ve used this technique as well as industrial fans to accomplish the same outcome. In my opinion, the fans do a better job.
If you have repeated basement flooding there are techniques you can use to mitigate against suffering through this problem again – provided the flooding is minimal. Any number of “Dry Basement” type companies should be able to help you moving forward.
Ultimately for us, we moved all of the mechanicals out of the basement and relocated them to an attic space above our garage. A few years later, we began this current project of elevating the entire house to mitigate against any kind of the flooding.