8 Things to Check for a Wet Basement

water in basementIt seems like the motto of Northern Illinois and Southern Wisconsin is “Rain, rain, go away!” Given the massive amounts of rainfall we've seen recently, we'd like to take this opportunity to review some techniques that can help you prevent or deal with a flooded basement.

To prevent basement flooding, take a walk in the rain.

Take a turn around your property and look for any water pooled against your foundation or anything that could cause pooling, such as sloping ground. In fact, the best time to do this is during a heavy rain so you can see where water is flowing.

Then, take a walk on a beautiful day.

Walk the same path during dry weather. Look over your faucets and sprinklers for leaks or misdirected spray, and your AC units for leaky drip pans. Check for cracks in the foundation, uncovered window wells, objects that might block or divert water from flowing away from the building or anything else that doesn't look right.

Now is a great time to check your gutters.

It’s probably been months since your gutters and downspouts had their last cleaning, and they may have picked up quite a bit of debris since then. Clogged gutters almost always dump water right against the foundation, which can lead directly to leakage or help it along by saturating the soil.

Check your sump pump.

A sump pump that doesn't turn on when it's supposed to can be worse than no pump at all. Your manual will have the exact test procedure for your model, but it will usually involve pulling the float upward until the pump activates. If it doesn't activate, check the power connections and circuit breakers or fuses. In any case, consider buying a backup power supply for the pump so that it will keep working in storms that knock out electric service. You'll also want to check the pump's outflow pipe for blockages and make sure it carries water well away from the foundation.

Get flood insurance.

How your individual insurance company defines “flooding” may differ from carrier to carrier, but one thing is sure. Your policy does not cover flood damage. Flood insurance is available only through the National Flood Insurance Program , a federal program created by Congress in 1968. For most homeowners, flood insurance is inexpensive and can save you tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars.

If you experience flooding, address it immediately.

It's crucial that you clean up standing water as soon as you can and dispose of any wet items that can't be dried completely. A mold colony can begin and grow in wet materials or humid areas within just 24 to 48 hours, and if left unchecked, mold can be a long term health hazard and damage the building itself.

Practice safety first.

Don't become the victim of a post-flooding accident. Follow these safety tips:
  • Watch out for structural damage. Flooding (especially a regional disaster) can shift the soil around your foundation significantly.
  • Be certain all electricity is off before you enter a submerged basement. If you can't reach the breaker box safely, have the power company turn off the power to the whole house.
  • Never use a gas powered generator or pump inside and be sure they're located well away from the building to avoid carbon monoxide buildup.
  • Be careful of flammable substances and other toxins that may have been washed into your basement or out of containers you were storing there.
  • Wear appropriate gear. Wear boots with thick soles and a good grip. Not only will your basement be slippery, the water may have moved sharp objects around. Wear rubber gloves; you should also wear a mask if there's been time for any mold growth since the flooding.

Contact your insurance carrier and other professionals as soon as you can.

If in doubt, have professionals handle any water damage and/or mold growth. Fast action by a restoration company can greatly reduce the total cost of damage done. If you're unsure about any aspect of getting your home back in shape, get professional help – it will save money and give you peace of mind. Contact your insurer as soon as you can and follow our tips on dealing with insurance claims when you do. Download your free home disaster planning eBook  


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