What can I do About a Flooded Basement?

Ken Black

A flooded basement can be not only a major inconvenience but also a major drain on financial resources, even if the basement is not finished. If a basement has water, the first course of business is to remove the water as quickly and as safely as possible. Once the water has been removed, the next step is cleaning the flooded basement thoroughly to avoid health issues resulting from mold growth. After that, it may be possible to take some efforts to preventing the flooding from occurring again, or at least mitigating the amount of water that intrudes.

A dehumidifier may help prevent mold growth in a flooded basement.
A dehumidifier may help prevent mold growth in a flooded basement.

Removing water from a flooded basement is always the first priority. Leaving the water in the basement will not only promote more mold growth, it may also cause the home to lose some of its structural integrity. A sump pump may be needed to adequately remove most of the standing water, but that will not remove all of it. Using a wet/dry vacuum, industrial fans, and mops to remove the remainder of water is necessary. Be extremely careful when using electrical equipment around standing water because of risk of electric shock.

Mops may be useful in removing excess water from a basement.
Mops may be useful in removing excess water from a basement.

Once the water is removed, the next step involves cleaning the mold from the flooded basement. Air transfer systems, such as an air conditioning or heating system, may provide some filtration of the air, but mold may pass through some filters and be carried to other areas of the home or building. Mold is responsible for triggering asthma attacks, causing sinus infections and generally weakening the immune system.

The home should be professionally tested, and if necessary, professionally cleaned. Be certain to meet all local codes in this regard. At the very least, wash all porous, organic surfaces, especially wood, with hot,soapy water or use a fungicide solution to kill the spores.

After the cleanup procedure has been completed, the next step is trying to prevent any future flooding events. This may not be possible in all cases, but adding a sealant to basement walls, especially along seams and in corners, may help provide some moisture resistance. Also, make sure your downspouts adequately move moisture away from the home to prevent another flooded basement. You may need to add more downspouts and extensions, or possibly dig drainage trenches to lead water away from the house.

Even minor flooding or high humidity can cause some problems in basements. Therefore, if a basement is prone to flooding or humidity problems, another solution is to use a dehumidifier. While a dehumidifier will not be effective in a completely flooded basement, it may help in situations where there is only a small amount of water. It will also help prevent mold growth. Getting flood insurance before a flood happens is another important step toward protecting a home in a flood-prone area.

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