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Tips for Handling Basement Flooding and Prevention

Basement flooding can happen when you least expect it, which can ruin your basement and belongings and cause serious health and safety hazards. If left too long, a flood in your basement can even compromise the structural integrity of your home. Know what to look for to avoid a flood and if it does happen, have the damage repaired immediately.

Causes of basement floods

Watch out for a few common issues that can cause your basement to flood.

Leaky windows

Water can leak into your basement around your windows if they are not properly sealed. A flooded yard or clogged gutters can cause your window wells to fill with water and your windows to leak.

Damaged plumbing

Damaged plumbing can cause a flood with a slow leak or if a pipe bursts. Damaged waste lines, a leak in the supply hose to your washing machine, or a leaky hot water tank can all cause major problems.

A leak in the foundation

A leaky foundation is the most common basement flooding cause. A leak from your basement foundation can happen when water pools around it from rain, sewer backups, and inadequate yard drainage.

Preventing and protecting your home from basement flooding

Regular maintenance and prevention are key in preventing property damage and health risks. Many basement floods can be prevented with these simple tips:

Clean your gutters and extend downspouts

Make sure to clean out the gutters in the spring and fall. Leaves and debris will cause your gutters to back up and water to pool near your foundation instead of draining away. This can cause flooding during heavy rainfall. Make sure downspouts are draining away from your home. Extend them so that they end far from your foundation and where the ground slopes away from the house.

Grade the yard

Your yard should slope away from your house, not towards it. Build up low-lying areas with topsoil and plant new lawn and plants on it to use up water and prevent erosion. Your lawn should slope away from your foundation on all sides of your home.

Check for leaks

Regularly check your basement windows and plumbing for leaks and damage. Seal leaks around the windows and replace damaged pipes. If there is moisture in the basement even when it is not raining, there is a problem that needs to be fixed. If you cannot figure it out, hire a professional to help.

Install a sump pump

If you live in an area where flooding is common, you should install a sump pump in case other prevention methods fail. A sump pump pumps water out of your basement and away from your foundation, preventing a flood. You should also have a backup sump pump in case the primary one fails.

What to do if your basement floods

If your basement floods, stay safe and deal with the damage right away.

Do not go into the basement

If there is an inch or more of water in the basement you should avoid going in until the water has been pumped out. There can be harmful bacteria in standing water in a flooded basement.

Do not touch electrical fixtures

Do not touch electrical fixtures or wiring in a flooded area of your home. If you must enter a flooded basement, make sure to wear waterproof rubber boots and use only a battery-operated flashlight for light.

Have the water pumped out

If there is a severe flood in your basement it is best to hire a professional to pump it out immediately. A remediation company can remove the water and help you deal with the damage.

Remove anything that has been damaged

If your basement is finished with wood-framed walls and drywall the lower section of the wall will need to be replaced. Carpets and flooring will also have to go, in addition to damaged personal belongings.

Find the cause of the flooding

Sometimes the cause of a flood is obvious – you might see a damaged pipe or a leak by the window. If you cannot locate the cause of the flood yourself, ask a professional to help you find it and determine the best solution to avoid it happening again. If it is likely to repeat, you will need to install a sump pump so that water can be removed as it comes in and before it causes any more damage.

Contact your insurer

Depending on the nature of the flooding, it may be covered by your home insurance. Make sure to understand which types of water damage are covered by your policy and contact your insurance company right away to start the process of filing a claim. Make sure to document the damage with photos and videos.

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