Some things seem sent to test our patience, and a flooded basement’s certainly one of them. For starters, by definition you can seldom drain a basement easily, and access is often only up and down the stairs. Stay calm. First things first, keep your cool, call in specialist assistance. After that, you need to take action before the situation deteriorates any further.
Think Safety First
Stay out of your basement if you think there’s the slightest chance of an electric short circuit. Isolate the power supply (if you can access it safely) and call in an electrician to make sure it’s switched off properly. Before you enter the flooded area afterwards make sure you have the right safety gear. Gumboots, a hard hat, heavy rubber gloves and a facemask are minimum requirements.
Notify Your Insurance Company
Log a report with your insurers right away. Tell them you are taking immediate action to protect your assets, and ask them to confirm their preferred service provider(s). Remember to take copious photographs as you go along. That’s because these are the silent witnesses that everybody trusts.
Find out Where the Water’s Coming From
There’s no point at all in drying out your basement if the water’s still flowing in (although you may wish to remove your precious possessions assuming it’s completely safe to do so). Consider the following possibilities:
- A burst water pipe (in which case you need to isolate the supply)
- A sewerage overflow (don’t put anything more down the drains)
- Water seepage (try to redirect the flow of water outside).
Once you’ve completed these essential checks and taken the necessary action with the assistance a certified waterproofing contractor, your next step is to remove the water that’s accumulated down there.
Empty Out the Basement
Remember that you’ve got just a few days before the mould sets in, and that it’s well-nigh impossible to eliminate it once it has taken hold. If there’s standing water find a specialist to pump it out for you. You could also rent a submersible pump and do the job yourself. However this might end up wasting precious time and costing more money in the end, especially if it results in extensive mould damage.
Remove everything from the basement – unless it’s clearly irretrievably damaged – and take it to a recovery area. Remember to maintain a list as you go along, and carefully note any damage that could be an insurance claim. Find a professional cleaner to attend to your soft furnishings, clothes and carpets.
The Big Clean-Up
Don’t take chances with your health. The water down there’s certain to be polluted, and a simple cut can easily turn septic. Find a professional restoration company to completely dry out, disinfect and sanitise all walls, floors and permanent fixtures. This is what makes and breaks your battle with persistent mold.
Assess the Long-Term Damage
It’s highly likely that your damp-proofing has been impaired. There’s also a possibility that your building foundations could have been damaged. Call in a specialist to investigate these possibilities before you move back in, so that any remedial work can be done with minimal disruption to your life style. Finally, arrange a mold inspection in a week’s to make sure you won that battle.
Basements do flood sometimes. The problem is we’re not there all the time and the water can accumulate undetected.. There are several things you can do to reduce the damage next time though. Keep things in storage off the ground. Inspect the basement regularly. If you can afford one, an automated sump pump can make a huge difference to your peace of mind. If you have a basement susceptible to dampness, consider having your basement inspected and tested for any health hazards that may be brewing down there.