One thing that every homeowner dreads is a flooded basement. During the spring in Toronto, along with rainy periods in the summer, we receive hundreds of calls a month for basement leaks after it rains. The homes in Toronto are old, many have aging foundations that have cracks in them along with drainage systems that no longer work properly.
There are numerous reasons a basement can flood during a rainstorm and if it happens to you these are some tips on how to stay calm during the incident. But before you get started, be sure to contact your insurance company to report the incident and clarify your coverage.
Cut the power
The first thing you should do if you notice the basement has flooded is to turn off the electrical power and gas to the home. If you’re not sure how to do this be sure to contact a qualified electrician or contractor for assistance. If the basement is flooding during a rainstorm, it’s recommended that you wait until the storm has passed before cleaning things up. If the water is coming from a burst pipe be sure to turn the water supply off.
You should wear rubber gloves and boots for your own protection when dealing with a flooded basement. In fact, chest or hip waders aren’t a bad idea either if you have any. Be careful when moving around as the area may be quite slippery.
Check the drain
If there’s a floor drain in the basement be sure to check and see if it’s obstructed.
The best way to remove the water will depend on how much of it is present. If there are a few inches of it you’ll need to use a sump pump or pool pump to get rid of it. If there isn’t too much water you may simply be able to use a mop and pail or a wet vacuum. For any remaining water you can use a sponge or towels to soak it up.
Dry out the furniture
If any of your belongings or furniture has been damaged you should move it to a dry and well-ventilated area if possible to let it air out. Unfortunately, some items may need to be discarded if they become moldy or simply won’t dry out. When it comes to electrical appliances such as lamps, televisions and stereos etc, it’s best to leave them where they are even though the power has been turned off. There’s always a danger of an electrical shock and these items should dry where they are or have an electrician remove them.
if the basement is carpeted you’ll probably want to remove the carpeting so the floor beneath it can properly dry. In some cases, the carpeting may dry out and can be saved. If the carpeting remains in place it can become moldy and become a home for mildew.
Ventilate the area
The basement should be ventilated as much as possible to help it dry out. You should open the windows and doors when possible and use fans to circulate the air. A dehumidifier will also help speed up the process.
Wash walls and floor
You should wash the basement walls and floor to remove any dirt from the incident. If any drywall or insulation has been damaged it may need to be replaced before mold and mildew move in.
Ask for assistance
You should call a professional contractor to find out exactly why the basement flooded and how to stop it from happening again. An experienced contractor will also know how to detect any possible unseen damage and to inspect the home for any structural problems or weakness. There may be more damage than the eye can detect and you don’t want to be hit with a huge repair job down the road. It’s always better to deal with the problem as soon as possible to make sure your family’s living space is as safe and healthy as can be.
If possible, move all of the electrical outlets to a higher level in the basement. In addition, you may not want to store your valuables down there. Be sure the ground next to the home’s foundation slopes away from the structure and the downspouts and gutters are free of obstruction and discharge rainwater as far away from the home as possible.