Whether it is heavy rains, spring thawing after deep winter snow, or even a plumbing fiasco, too much water can put you in the position of incurring flooded basement cleanup costs. Knowing that it is likely you will have to deal with excess water in your basement at some point is a good reason to invest in waterproofing your foundation.
Buying a house, any house, is not a spontaneous decision. There is much to consider with such an important investment. Buying a house with water damage adds a whole new level to the depth of considerations when deciding on a home to purchase.
Below are a few steps and tips to keep in mind when contemplating the purchase of a house that has water damage. Carefully weighing the facts and being realistic about your budget and risk tolerance is crucial. The same items that could be a deal breaker for you may not even faze another potential buyer. Gather all the facts and if you decide to purchase, be vigilant about repairs and proactive about preventing future water damage.
The most important thing to remember is to never enter a basement that’s flooded if it could have electricity running. Chances are if your basement flooded, you either don’t have a sump pump, or you don’t have a sump pump with an emergency battery backup. If the power went out, you may want to get it restored right away to get your sump pump going again. But any electricity in the water creates a deadly hazard. Make sure to disable ALL of the power to the basement, a socket that’s not being used or loose wires you can’t see can still electrify the water.
Additionally, if your flood was due to backed up sewage, the average homeowner is not equipped to safely clean it up. You will need to contact a professional, as sewage can contain a large volume of contaminants that spread illness or disease.
Steps for Cleaning Up:
#1. Turn Off Water & Power.
If your basement flooding happened due to a leaky or burst pipe, the first step is to turn off the water. This will prevent any further water from filling the space and give you time to contact a plumber. It’s also critical to ensure the power is off for the entire basement. If you’re not completely confident that the water is safe, don’t attempt to enter the basement at all— call a professional.
#2. Remove Everything You Can
When you’re positive there’s no risk of electric shock, you can begin removing items that can be saved. Start by taking out any electronics, both for safety purposes and to potentially salvage them. You will have to remove furniture and anything stored in the area. Depending on the purity of the water, some of it may be reusable once it’s dried. A leaky pipe often just causes water damage, but backed up sewage or a groundwater flood will likely introduce bacteria into anything it touches, requiring you to throw it away or have it professionally cleaned.
#3. Clean Up Excess Water
Once your basement is safe and you have most of your salvageable items removed, you can start to tackle the water that’s remaining. There are a number of ways accomplish this, but they depend on the equipment you have available. The simplest solution is to use towels and buckets, soaking up and dumping the water elsewhere. A shop vac can also help, but make sure not to plug it in anywhere that could put you at risk for electric shock.
#4. Remove Moisture
After your basement has had all of the flooded water removed, you’ll need to dry out the area. Open the windows and use fans to help remove moisture from the environment. If you own a dehumidifier, make sure to turn it on with the windows closed and regularly empty it. Remember when using a dehumidifier to remove contaminated water that the dehumidifier itself will then also be contaminated and should be replaced after you’re finished.
If your basement is carpeted, you will need to remove the carpet. Even if you do everything to dry it out, moisture can stay trapped beneath it and lead to major mold problems. You probably won’t be able to save the carpet, especially if the flood came from an unclean water source.
You will also need to remove drywall and insulation. They can act as sponges for the water, and you’ll need to access the areas behind them to fully dry out the supports and make sure no wiring is still exposed to water. It’s highly recommended to leave these steps to a professional, to ensure the job is done thoroughly and without risking more damage to your home.
#5. Disinfect the Area
Once the basement is dry, you will have to disinfect everything. Even if the flood water was “clean,” moisture can quickly let bacteria and mold begin to thrive in your basement. Any surface that was wet or near the flood will need to be thoroughly disinfected. This may drastically reduce your chance for developing mold or other illnesses in the future.
Protect Yourself Against Water Damage
There’s a lot you can do to avoid water damage. Staying proactive will help reduce your risk of flooding, and save yourself countless hours and potentially hundreds of dollars in damage and expenses from a basement flood.
Keep Your Gutters Maintained
gutters are your home’s first line of defense