How to Clean a Flooded Basement

A home in a flooded area with water reaching up to the windows

Unfortunately, finished and unfinished basements are prone to flooding for various reasons. Sometimes the storm gutters and downspouts are clogged or plagued with holes and the water flows over them and down to the perimeter of the house rather than to the corners and away from the house.

In some cases, the water table is located high in the ground. Once the ground becomes saturated and it continues to rain, the rain needs to find somewhere to go. Typically, it will overflow to the surface of the lawn or yard. However, if any cracks exist in the foundation of your home, the water is going to find entrance there.

Many people are already aware that their home has this problem and have opted for the installation of a sump pump to remedy the situation. However, if your home is only now undergoing settlement and settlement cracks or experiencing stress fractures in its foundation, then you may wind up with a flooded basement before you know that you have a problem.

Choosing Your Equipment

Once you have discovered that your basement is undergoing a flood, the first step is to remove the water. If the flooding is minor, then all you need to do is mop the wet areas up with a mop or old towels. However, if the flooding is major, it’s time to bring out the big weapons.

If you don’t have one of the following: portable sump pump, wet vacuum, or wet shop vacuum, go to the store and purchase one or see if you can borrow one from someone that you know. Additionally, places are available where you can rent these. Look in your local telephone book for contact information if you decide to rent the equipment.

You need to consider a few things when determining which equipment you are going to use. The sump pump will require an outlet for the water to be removed. Realize that if your basement is flooding, then the existing drains in your basement may be inaccessible for draining purposes. You will probable need to obtain a long hose to attach to the sump pump so that you can hang it out the window and as far away from the home as possible.

If you select the wet vacuum, realize that it will only be a matter of minutes before you have to empty the holding receptacle. The wet shop vacuum will hold more water, but it will be heavier and more difficult to empty, especially if you are trying to empty the water outside of the home. Make your decision wisely.

Removing the Water

Once you have the equipment that you need, begin to remove the water. The best place to begin is most likely the area that is going to sustain the most damage if the water sits. Another option is to begin on the highest section of the room where the water is the lowest and work your way in to the larger pools of water.

Drying the Area

If the rain has stopped, open the windows to allow moisture in the air to escape. This will help with the drying out process. Once the water has been removed from the floor of the basement, it is time to begin drying the area as completely as possible ass quickly as possible.

If your heating system has not been affected by the flooding, turn the heat to a higher setting to help with the drying out process. However, remember to open the windows to allow the moisture in the air to escape. Using heat will evaporate the water into the air and the air will become humid and dense with moisture.

Consider using fans to circulate the air and speed up the drying process. Place the fans in such a way that the air is blown away and out rather than into the room. This will help to prevent the growth of mild and mildew.

Another option to speed up the drying out process is to use a dehumidifier. It’s important to close the windows and doors when using a dehumidifier so that it works properly. Keep an eye on the dehumidifier’s holding container and empty it as frequently as is necessary. Once the dehumidifier no longer extracts any moisture from the room, place it in another area of the basement and begin again.

You may need to call in a professional if your heating system sustained water damage. Most likely, your homeowner’s policy requires that it be cleaned by a professional prior to operating it again.