Cleaning up after a Flood

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Cleaning up after a Flood

Basement flooding has always been a real risk for homeowners. The physical damage isn’t the only damage that occurs when a basement floods. Health hazards are also an issue for families. Mold and mildew cause big health concerns when items become saturated with water. It can trigger respiratory problems, nausea, and many other conditions. Not all flood water is evident so it is crucial to dry, clean, and disinfect everything that could have potentially been contaminated. By preventing basement flooding in the first place and knowing what to do if it does occur will help take some of the stress out of the situation and keep you and your family healthy.

Prevention is the primary step in ensuring a dry basement. First, identifying ways that water can enter your basement and then redirecting the flow of water away from your basement or sealing off entries where water can enter will save you a lot of trouble. 

  • Check sump pumps periodically to make sure they are in working order. Dump water into it and ensure that it starts up and discharges water properly and clean any build up in the pit. 
  • Since the main sump pump may not function if there is a power outage or even just a clogged pipe, it is wise to install a backup sump pump. There are a couple of options for backup sump pumps. One can operate on a 12 volt rechargeable battery and the other is connected to your home’s electrical system. 
  • Make sure gutters are clean and free from obstruction.
  • Make sure downspouts are pointed away from the house. 
  • Install covers on window wells. Plastic domed ones can be purchased inexpensively at home improvement stores. 
  • Trim bushes and plants so that soil gets exposed to sunlight and is able to dry. 
  • Check for exposed walls in the basement and caulk any cracks or gaps. 
  • Apply a waterproofing paint. If necessary, ensure that it is compatible with existing latex or oil based paints.
    After flooding, acting quickly will help reduce any permanent damage or health risks. When preparing to clean make sure you wear a mask such as an N-95 respirator, goggles, long pants and sleeves, and work boots for your protection from contaminated water and mold and mildew. 
  • Remove debris and as much water from the house as possible by mopping and blotting. Highly porous materials like carpeting and wet wall board should be removed or discarded. 
  • Provide proper air circulation. Open windows or vents and use high powered fans to assist with bringing in outside (fresh) air to all areas of the basement. 
  • Punch small holes in sagging ceilings to catch trapped water in buckets. 
  • Elevate furniture to allow adequate air circulation and use additional fans or dehumidifiers to assist in the drying process and reduce odors. 
  • Scrub flooded areas with warm soapy water and rinse with a solution of ½ cup of household bleach to each gallon of water. Let solution sit for 2 minutes and then rinse thoroughly and dry. 
  • Decontaminate all surfaces that have come into contact with flooded waters with a disinfectant solution. 
  • Wash all affected linens and clothing in hot water and dry thoroughly. 
  • If water damage is extensive you may need to call in a professional.