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You Need a Game Plan

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You Need a Game Plan

By: Adam M. Matheny

Your Basement Flooded

Flooding basements can result in panic even from the most stoic homeowner. If you’re the type who keeps on top of all of your maintenance, you may find such an event even more upsetting. Where did all of this water come from and how much will it cost to get rid of it? How much damage is it doing in the meantime? And what about my other belongings?

Don’t worry—here’s an outline of how to proceed if you realize your basement is flooding, and how to waterproof it to avoid this headache in the future.

Fixing Flood Damage: Costs

The National Flood Insurance Program says that floods are the top disaster in the United States, and result in more than three billion dollars in claims every year. While standard policies don’t cover flood damage, you can obtain separate flood insurance in many regions. Premiums are, on average, around seven hundred dollars per year. If you want to find out if you’re covered, or if it’s available, call your insurance provider.

Fixing a flooded basement can cost a widely varying amount, which will depend on the type of water and its depth. Costs can be higher depending on whether or not the water is clean water, storm water, or sewage, for example. Simply pumping clean water out of a lightly flooded basement and getting it thoroughly dry can cost one thousand dollars or more; it can escalate to ten times that if you have a larger basement, however.

First Steps

If your basement floods, you’ll have a long list of tasks you should complete. But one of the first things you should do—if not the first thing—is shut off the power to your basement. Only do this if you know how and the breakers are in a place that’s safe to access. If that’s not the case, call an electrician, and wait for them to arrive before you start cleaning up the space.

Once the electricity is safely off, investigate to determine where the water is coming from. If the water is due to a storm or rain, you’ll want to wait until the rain has passed and the storm waters are no longer encroaching before you begin repairs. If you’ve got another source, like a burst water pipe, you’ll want to take action on repairs immediately.

If you can’t tell what the source of the flooding is, call a professional ASAP.

Cleaning Up the Aftermath

The first thing you’ll want to do is remove the water itself, or as much of it as you can, with a wet vac, a mop and bucket, or even a pool pump.

Once that’s accomplished, you’ll want to move the wet things out of your basement so that they can dry in a ventilated area. For those things that don’t dry out in two days, consider disposing of them to avoid mold.

You’ll also want to remove any carpet in your basement as soon as you can. This will allow the floor more of an opportunity to dry out. If you can open doors and windows and increase air circulation with fans, do that as well.

Finally, wash down the walls and the floor. Floodwaters often leave significant amounts of dirt and debris behind. If your drywall or insulation has been soaked, you’ll probably need to replace that as well.

Waterproofing Your Basement

The best cure is always prevention, so if your area is prone to flooding, you’ll want to look into waterproofing your basement. Keep gutters and rainspouts clear so that water is directed away from your home. Make sure that the ground slopes downward away from your foundation as well, for the same reason. Keep plants about a foot from your home.

As far as the interior goes, you can paint the walls and floors with heavy-duty waterproof paint. This won’t completely withstand flooding, but it will prevent minor floods and dampness.

If you’re not comfortable taking on a project of this magnitude yourself, look into local plumbing and renovation contractors with basement waterproofing experience.

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