How To Clean Up Flooded Basement

Flooded basements are serious cases for panic. Aside from coming up with a rational answer of where all the water could have come from, the cost to clean it up may be more bugging. As such, it is very essential to know who you should call, what you should do as first aid and how you can prevent it from ever happening in the future. 

If you are thinking of step-by-step guides in flooded basement cleanup, this is the post for you. It features not just the tools and equipment that you must use but also some handy information to avoid cases like this again. So, if you are in for all flooded basement cleanup basics, read on. 

Related: Basement Drain Backing Up When Washing Clothes?

What to do when your basement floods from rain?

There are three reasons why you should worry about basement floods due to constant raining. 

  1. Rainwater saturates the soil, forcing moisture to penetrate through the basement floors and walls. 
  2. The loose soil around the basement/foundation absorbs more water. When it expands, it would allow leakage
  3. Windows that are not installed properly can be filled with rainwater that would potentially seep in. 

When these things happen, here is what you can do: 

  1. Contact the district’s water department. Chances are, there is a problem in the main sewer line that is connected to the home.
  2. Vacuum in all the water from the basement floor. 
  3. Clean up the basement using shovels to get off the mud, power washer to rinse the mud, bleach to disinfect, blowers and dehumidifiers to dry the space out. 

*Note: if the water is bubbling, it contains chemicals. Make sure that you are wearing protective gears. 

  1. Throw out all soiled items. 
  2. Remove damaged drywall if necessary. 
  3. Contact a cleaning professional to assess the condition. 

What happens if the basement floods?

It may be a source of panic, but basement flooding is considered common. Nonetheless, here are the things that could happen when a basement becomes flooded. 

  • Water damage to homes (i.e. destruction of belongings and structures). 
  • Short circuit on fuse and basement appliances. 
  • Wall groundings could be penetrated by water, loosening the home’s foundation in time. 
  • Health hazards brought about by muddy, murky water (i.e. leptospirosis and other bacteria causing diseases). 
  • Weeks of cleanup. 

Flooded basement cleanup checklist

Having a checklist for basement cleanup can become handy when it happens. As such, here is a 12-point checklist for you to master whenever the inevitable happens. This lessens the panic that you would feel when that time comes. 

  • Call your home insurance company right away for advice and damage coverage. 
  • Have a trusted electrician inspect the perimeter and extent of electric damages. 
  • Thoroughly document the damages caused by the flood. 
  • Start flooded basement remediation on your own. Note that this could take weeks to months. 
  • Sort through the furnishing, wall, and flooring (including carpet). 
  • Open the walls and check for mold buildup and damaged wood. 
  • Check wooden subfloors. 
  • Pull up your hardwood floors if there is any. 
  • Remove tile flooring. 
  • Clean remaining walls, the trim, and floors. 
  • Wash, clean and dry salvageable belongings. 
  • Thoroughly clean mold buildup. 

How to clean up flooded basement step by step

If you have done this before and just need a more comprehensive step-by-step guide on how to clean up a flooded basement, here are the necessary tools and equipment to gather, and steps to follow. 

Tools or equipment

To begin, you must gather the following tools and materials: 

Steps

To masterfully do it on your own, here are the steps that you should follow: 

  1. The first thing to do is to make sure that the fuse is off, and all appliances are plugged out. 
  2. Next, inspect the depth of water. For different water depths, there are different steps to carry out. 

Small water

  1. If you are dealing with small water, say, just an inch, the first thing to do is still to make sure that all sources of active electricity are off. 
  2. Next, shovel all the water that you can get and throw them in the bucket. 
  3. Let sit for about 10mins and then start wet vacuuming the floor. Do this for two rounds on the entire floor area. 
  4. To make sure that it is dried completely, run the blower. 
  5. Leave it for 20 mins and prepare the disinfectant spray. 
  6. For the finishing touches, turn on the dehumidifier. 

Medium to large water

Pumping off the water

  1. Again, make sure that the fuse is turned off. 
  2. Next, get a submersible sump pump for the job. You must wrap the cord by a railing or beam (wherever it is more convenient) so that it would not be submerged under water. 
  3. First, pump at least 3ft of water and then mark the wall with the new water level. Check the next day if the water level rose. If it did, the flooding is still on-going. 
  4. Continue checking the water level every 12hrs until it stabilizes. 
  5. If no water rise is detected, resume sump pumping the basement floor. Give an interval of 20-30mins per one-third of water pumped to avoid wall cracking from too much pressure from the pump. 
  6. After this, connect the garden hose to the pump and place it as far away from the home as possible. If you have a storm drain, direct the garden hose there. 
  7. Once you pump the major amount of water off, switch to wet vacuum in picking up small pools of water on the corners.

Basement cleanup

  1. The next thing to do is dirt removal and major basement cleanup. For this, you must wear protective clothing and use boots, rubber gloves for the hands and face mask. Take caution near electrical cords and sockets. 
  2. Now, take the shovel and start shoveling up the mud left by the water before they all dry up. 
  3. Take a power nozzle and attach it to the hose and then rinse the furnishing, walls and other rinseable materials that are covered with mud. After flushing the mud down, use the wet vacuum to get the water. 
  4. The next thing to do is to remove all unsalvageable items. Here is a list of the basement items that you should automatically discard: 
  • Newspapers, articles, and wet paper.
  • Carpet and rugs.
  • Flooring, walls and furnishing that are deeply penetrated by water (specifically sewage water). 
  • Insulation materials.
  • Particleboard furniture, mattresses, cushions, pillows, and other beddings. 
  • Canned goods and everything in the basement pantry that came in contact with flood water. 
  1. After sorting out what to save and what to discard, work on disinfecting the basement. Be careful in using bleach and other cleaning materials because they most likely have harmful fumes in them. The best disinfecting solution would be 1 cup chlorine bleach mixed in a gallon of water. 
  2. Rinse all bleached surfaces. Again, collect the water using a wet vacuum. 

Drying

  1. To prevent the buildup of molds and mildew, make sure that the basement is dried properly. For this, open all doors and windows. 
  2. Next, turn on the industrial blowers and the heater to help in water evaporation.
  3. For the final touches, use your dehumidifier to sweep the extra moisture that the fans and blowers were not able to get. Take note that the windows and doors should be closed while you are running the dehumidifier. 
  4. Move the dehumidifier around the basement for best results.

Related: What Is The Ideal Basement Humidity Level to Prevent Mold?

Basement flood cleanup tips

Aside from the basement cleanup steps, here are some other tips to consider too: 

  • Any item that is less than 24hrs submerged in water can be salvaged. 
  • Drying the basement usually takes two weeks. Be patient. 
  • Never use bleach to clean up mold buildup. Liquid detergent for molds is a more commendable choice. 
  • Contact a mold remediation company to check the mold affected areas. 
  • If repairs are deemed necessary, consider replacing them with mold-resistant materials. 
  • For sewage related flooding, check the following tips here. 

Flooded basement cleanup cost

Floods are considered as the top disaster damaging infrastructures in the US, according to the National Flood Insurance Program. The cost for flooded basement cleanup depends on the source of flood water (i.e. storm, sewage, and clean) and the level of water that has seeped through the home. 

Simply pumping the water out costs between $500-1000 but once it includes floor, wall, and furnishing repairs, expect to start your calculations at $10,000

How to recover from a flooded basement? 

There are various steps that you can employ to restore your basement from flooding. The following ways are staple steps done by professionals in recovering a flooded basement. 

  • Find the source of the flooding. This does not only help you in recovering the flooded basement but also saves you from flooding in the future. 
  • Have home insurance. Basement flooding is enough reason for you to avail of a home insurance as they could help with the cost of restoration. If you have one, do not wait for days or weeks before filing a report. 
  • Extract water: If you do not think you can do it on your own, contact water extraction services who are experts in basement flooding and its possible hazards. 
  • Restore carpets if possible: There are carpet restoration professionals out there which you can tap to eliminate mud stains and fiber cracking for your prized carpets. 
  • Replacing baseboards, sheet rocks and insulation: This comes at a later stage but when this time comes, you must make sure that you have more reinforced materials to replace damaged baseboards, sheet rocks and insulating materials. 
  • Look out for molds: Restoration companies look for molds and always start a thorough mold remediation process so it pays to have one around. 

How to prevent basement flooding

The best step to do in preventing future basement flooding would be investing in basement waterproofing. You can do it in many ways, but the following would be the most common and most recommended: 

  • Clean out the gutters and rain spouts annually. Clogged gutters can soak through the walls, causing serious water damage and flooding. Rain spouts should also be inspected so that the pool of water from heavy rains is redirected as far away from the basement as possible. 
  • Check landscape: Your landscape should always be sloping away from the home’s foundation and not towards it. Make sure that the trees in the landscape are at least 5ft away from the foundation so that basement flooding cannot break through the structure. 
  • Waterproof coating: A good investment is also painting the basement walls with waterproof coating. This one reinforces the walls by preventing moisture into the basement walls. Adding a sump pump to redirect the water away from the home’s drain is also a good take. 
  • Call your trusted plumber: It always pays to have a trusted plumber around to call and consult with if you have doubts about simple wall perspiration hanging around for long or other causes of concern that you feel could go wrong anytime. 

FAQs 

Aside from what we have just covered, it is also important to be knowledgeable of FAQs that come with how to clean a flooded basement and eventually restore it. 

Why do basements flood when it rains?

There are a lot of reasons to point to when your basement floods when it rains. Most often than not, it would be one of the following: 

  • Overland flooding or when water pools accumulate around the house, and they fall through the basement. 
  • When the home is near natural sources of water like streams, ponds, or rivers. 
  • The foundation drainage is damaged. When this happens, basement flooding while raining could be caused by seepage, weeping tiles, floors, and walls. 
  • Faulty sump pump. 
  • Sewers are full. 

Is a flooded basement dangerous?

Without a doubt, yes. The most imminent danger is electrocution, especially when the fuse and sockets have short circuited. Another cause of concern would be the health hazards brought about by the dirty water. Mold buildup is also a serious case for concern. 

In the long run, when flooded basements are not mitigated well, expect the gradual loss of structural integrity, possible damage in the home’s foundation and other serious structural damages that could cost a lot for restoration. 

How long does it take for a flooded basement to dry out?

At best, flooded basements can be tagged as ‘thoroughly dry’ after six weeks with the use of fans, industrial blowers, and dehumidifiers. Like cleaning it up, it is not a one-time big-time thing, and it might need constant checking and drying amendments for it to be completely dried out. 

How long does it take for molds to appear in a flooded basement? 

Molds are pesky and very adaptive. It only takes 24-48hrs for them to appear. When the environment supports their thriving, they can start building colonies in damp flooring, walls, and furnishings immediately. Mold growth is always one of the primary concerns in flooded basement remediations. 

Does a flooded basement cause mold?

A resounding yes. Molds love dampness and when flooded basements are not pumped out of water immediately, more mold buildup is encouraged. Molds are not just dangerous due to their health risks but also damages floorboards, walls, and furnishing. As such, flooded basements are inspected to see the extent of molding that the flood water left. 

Will a dehumidifier help a flooded basement?

Yes. A dehumidifier is beneficial in the drying process of a flooded basement. It is turned on along with fans and blowers because it helps in moving the air around so that air condensation is stopped, hence, moisture or perspiring also stops. 

How long should a dehumidifier run after a basement flood? 

Depending on the floor area of the basement, a dehumidifier must run until all considered porous surfaces have completely dried out. It can take a few days or weeks because you must make sure that everything is dry. 

What can district officials do to prevent basement flooding? 

If you think it should just be you acting on basement flooding, you are completely wrong. The entire area should have rain blockers or restrictors. These devices slow down water flow from the street and prohibits that flow into being channeled towards the home. 

How common is basement flooding? 

If you happen to live in wintry and rainy locations, basement flooding happens 80% of the time when the rainy and winter season come to their peak. As a matter of fact, even when the water has dried out if the snow has not yet completely melted, your home is still prone to basement flooding. 

And even if you do not live in such locations, your home is not completely invulnerable to basement flooding because it is the lowest ground of the house.

How To Clean Up Flooded Basement

How To Clean Up Flooded Basement

If you have done this before and just need a more comprehensive step-by-step guide on how to clean up a flooded basement, here are the necessary tools and equipment to gather, and steps to follow.

Tools

  • Vacuum
  • Sump pump
  • Industrial blower
  • Pail/bucket
  • Shovel
  • Garden hose
  • Disinfectant
  • Dehumidifier
  • Protective clothes

Instructions

To masterfully do it on your own, here are the steps that you should follow: 

  1. The first thing to do is to make sure that the fuse is off, and all appliances are plugged out. 
  2. Next, inspect the depth of water. For different water depths, there are different steps to carry out.

Small water

  1. If you are dealing with small water, say, just an inch, the first thing to do is still to make sure that all sources of active electricity are off. 
  2. Next, shovel all the water that you can get and throw them in the bucket. 
  3. Let sit for about 10mins and then start wet vacuuming the floor. Do this for two rounds on the entire floor area. 
  4. To make sure that it is dried completely, run the blower. 
  5. Leave it for 20 mins and prepare the disinfectant spray. 
  6. For the finishing touches, turn on the dehumidifier.

Medium to large water

Pumping off the water

  1. Again, make sure that the fuse is turned off. 
  2. Next, get a submersible sump pump for the job. You must wrap the cord by a railing or beam (wherever it is more convenient) so that it would not be submerged under water. 
  3. First, pump at least 3ft of water and then mark the wall with the new water level. Check the next day if the water level rose. If it did, the flooding is still on-going. 
  4. Continue checking the water level every 12hrs until it stabilizes. 
  5. If no water rise is detected, resume sump pumping the basement floor. Give an interval of 20-30mins per one-third of water pumped to avoid wall cracking from too much pressure from the pump. 
  6. After this, connect the garden hose to the pump and place it as far away from the home as possible. If you have a storm drain, direct the garden hose there. 
  7. Once you pump the major amount of water off, switch to wet vacuum in picking up small pools of water on the corners.

Basement cleanup

  1. The next thing to do is dirt removal and major basement cleanup. For this, you must wear protective clothing and use boots, rubber gloves for the hands and face mask. Take caution near electrical cords and sockets. 
  2. Now, take the shovel and start shoveling up the mud left by the water before they all dry up. 
  3. Take a power nozzle and attach it to the hose and then rinse the furnishing, walls and other rinseable materials that are covered with mud. After flushing the mud down, use the wet vacuum to get the water. 
  4. The next thing to do is to remove all unsalvageable items. Here is a list of the basement items that you should automatically discard: Newspapers, articles, and wet paper, Carpet and rugs, Flooring, walls and furnishing that are deeply penetrated by water (specifically sewage water). 
  5. After sorting out what to save and what to discard, work on disinfecting the basement. Be careful in using bleach and other cleaning materials because they most likely have harmful fumes in them. The best disinfecting solution would be 1 cup chlorine bleach mixed in a gallon of water. 
  6. Rinse all bleached surfaces. Again, collect the water using a wet vacuum. 

Drying

  1. To prevent the buildup of molds and mildew, make sure that the basement is dried properly. For this, open all doors and windows. 
  2. Next, turn on the industrial blowers and the heater to help in water evaporation.
  3. For the final touches, use your dehumidifier to sweep the extra moisture that the fans and blowers were not able to get. Take note that the windows and doors should be closed while you are running the dehumidifier. 
  4. Move the dehumidifier around the basement for best results.

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