Severe rains or snow melts can oversaturate the ground and flood basements in low-lying areas. As a homeowner, coping with a flooded basement can seem overwhelming and beyond your control. But a few simple steps -- and the help of professionals - can salvage your basement and make it useable again.
Preventive: Sump Pump
If you recently bought a house in a low-lying area, invest in a sump pump before you become the victim of flooding. This electrical pump -- with a battery backup -- will work to remove any water that begins to enter the basement. A sump pump won't protect the floor from getting wet, but it will eliminate the standing water problem. Check your local regulations for sump pump drainage; public storm drains are usually acceptable drainage routes.
If you have an unfinished basement, buy a submersible pump as that type can suck up debris like dirt and stones without becoming clogged. A pedestal-style pump should be sufficient for finished basements that won't generate small debris that can clog the machine. Pedestal pumps last longer and cost less than submersible pumps.
Post-Flood: Removing Damp Goods
With or without a sump pump, flooding will soak flooring and any materials sitting on the floor or on low shelves. The primary post-flood concern is mold prevention. Mold can grow in as little as a day with the combination of moisture and something on which the mold can grow such as dirt, carpet or wallpaper. If you have an unfinished basement with a dirt floor, don't try to do anything yourself. Call a water damage restoration professional immediately to tend to the haven for mold that now exists in your basement.
If you have a finished basement, you should still call for professional help, but you can at least get a start on things before that help arrives. Remove and dispose of any wet boxes or other small, easy-to-move belongings. If the help isn't arriving for a few days, you can get a start on removing the carpet. Cut up small sections at a time and stack them outside for trash pickup.
Protection: Sealant and Reorganizing
After the water damage restoration professional finishes restoring your basement to its safe and dry condition, you should think about ways to prevent that amount of damage the next time. This can include applying a waterproof sealant to the internal walls of the basement to help prevent so much water from entering. If you can afford the project, have a contractor dig a well around the exterior of your home's foundation. Waterproofing material can then be added to the exterior walls as an extra layer of protection.
Reorganize by taking all of the belongings you can off the basement floor. Place any boxes or personal items on higher shelves or in the attic. If you need to keep boxes on the floor, choose watertight containers that can survive a flood.