Storms and downpours can quickly flood your basement and create a real mess. Wading through soggy boxes of books, soaking carpeting, floating dog food bowls and sopping sofas, you might feel paralyzed as to what to do.
For safety reasons, call your power company, an electrician or a professional flood cleanup company if you have a large amount of standing water in your basement. You may have to disconnect the service before walking into the water. Don’t touch anything electrical.
Here are six tips for dealing with water in your basement.
1. Photograph the aftermath
Whether you are planning to file an insurance claim or not, quickly get out your phone and take photos and video of the flooded area, both inside and outside, before you start cleaning up. According to FEMA, if you do file a claim, this information could help the adjuster assess your payment. After you have photographed everything, begin tossing items that could attract mold, such as clothing, bedding or pillows, cardboard, paper bags and any perishable food.
2. Remove water
Get water out as soon as possible. A few inches of standing water can usually be removed with a wet vac. If you don’t have a wet vac, buy, borrow or rent one. Major water damage may need a professional such as ServPro or ServiceMaster. If your damage is minor, you can use towels to wipe the water up, but they should immediately be washed and dried to prevent mold from growing.
3. Dry it out
Use dehumidifiers and fans to move air around, discouraging the growth of mold and mildew. Keep dehumidifiers at least six to eight inches away from walls for the best air circulation. Clean and wash their filters once every week or so to help the fan operate efficiently. Run your air conditioning constantly. Throw away any wet boxes.
4. Scrub flooring
Vinyl tile, linoleum and other hard surfaces can be scrubbed with a solution of no more than one cup of chlorine bleach to one gallon of water. During this process, wear rubber gloves and protective eyewear and keep the room ventilated.
5. Examine and clear gutters, downspouts and drains
Put on your rubber gloves and check basement steps and drains. Get rid of any leaves, twigs and mud. Remove the drain screen and give it a good cleaning and, if necessary, use a plunger or plumber’s snake to clear the drain. Muck out gutters and downspouts around the house.
6. Put important papers in the freezer
If valuable documents or cherished papers have been dampened, you might try quickly putting them in the freezer. This may stop mildew growth and deterioration until you can attend to them later. Resolve not to store anything of value in the basement and to use concrete blocks to keep possessions and appliances off the floor. Plastic storage bins are far better than cardboard boxes for basement use.
The Atlantic hurricane season
The latest: The 2022 season started out slow, but has rapidly intensified this fall with conditions prime for storms. Fiona brought severe flooding to Puerto Rico before making landfall in Canada, and now we’re tracking Hurricane Ian as it heads for Florida. For the seventh year in a row, hurricane officials expect an above-average season of hurricane activity.
Tips for preparing: We rounded up seven safety tips to help you get ready for hurricanes. Here’s some other guidance about keeping your phone charged and useful in dangerous weather, and what to know about flood insurance.
Understanding climate change: It’s not just you — hurricanes and tropical storms have hit the U.S. more frequently in recent years. And last summer alone, nearly 1 in 3 Americans experienced a weather disaster. Read more about how climate change is fueling severe weather events.