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Any basement can flood. I know – not the reassuring words you were looking for in an article about basement flooding. However, some homeowners assume that just because they don’t live in a high-risk flood area, or perhaps live in a state that doesn’t experience a ton of rainfall, that their basement is safe from flooding.

The truth is basement flooding can be caused by a variety of home issues, such as plumbing and sewage leaks. And whether its two inches or two feet, flooding can pose serious health and safety hazards for you and those in your home, if not addressed as soon as possible.

Whether you’ve stumbled into an in-ground pool you don’t remember building in your basement or you simply want to learn how to prepare for future flooding possibilities, we’ve got tips on what you should do after a basement flood.

What Do You Do If Your Basement Floods?

According to Basement Systems, the first thing you should do when your basement floods is actually more of a what-not-to-do, which is walk into the standing water in your basement.

Not only can the water contain harmful bacteria – for example, if the cause of the flood was a sewage leak – but also if there’s any exposed electrical wiring, you could be at risk of shock or electrocution. Instead, it’s a best practice to call an electrician as soon as possible to turn off or remove any electrical equipment that may have been exposed to water.

Depending on what caused the flood, there are a few different people you may have to call after the electrician. Let’s discuss who they are and why you might need to call them.

Who Do You Call for a Flooded Basement?

There’s no universal answer for what causes a basement to flood. Plumbing leaks, excessive rainfall, melting snow, leaky windows or even a basement foundation leak could be contributing to the water in your basement.

Because water always run from high to low ground, water is prone to entering even the smallest cracks and flaws that lead into the lowest level of your house: your basement.

Let’s look at the three most common causes of basement leaks and whom you should call.

For Plumbing Leaks

Plumbing leaks are caused by a burst or leaking pipe, waste line, washing machine supply hose or water tank or heater. Before you call a professional, you can stop most of the damage by turning off your water via the water shut-off valve. If your valve is buried in the ground, you might have to call a professional plumber with specific tools to turn it off.

A plumber will also have access to a high-capacity pump that will be able to get all the water out of your basement before it sits too long and starts to soak into your drywall or carpeting.

For Sewage Leaks

Sewage leaks are caused by a septic tank backup or clogged sewer line. You’ll want to start the cleanup process as soon as possible by first turning off your faucets and not flushing your toilets until the leak is addressed. However, most of the real cleanup should be left to the professionals, as sewage leaks can be hazards if not handled quickly and correctly.

If you have a backed-up septic tank, you’ll need a septic specialist; if the leak came from an outside city sewer service, you’ll need to call your local sewage department to check the sewages in your neighborhood for clogs.

For Foundation Leaks

Basement foundation leaks are caused by excessive amounts of rain, poor yard drainage and sewer backups, seeping water into your basement from faults in the foundation. In this case, you’ll need to call a foundation contractor to inspect your basement, find the cause of the flood and suggest a solution to sealing your foundation from future leaks.

Depending on the cause of the flood, and the professional you’ll need to hire to address the flood, the cost of cleaning up your basement can vary. However, let’s discuss what you can expect, cost-wise.

How Much Does It Cost to Clean Up Your Basement?

Cost will vary based on how much water entered your basement and how quickly the water was addressed and removed.

According to Angie’s List, a minor flood with several inches of water could cost $10,000 to repair, while a severe flood could cost anywhere between $25,000 – $50,000.

However, there are ways you can cut costs by taking case of most of the cleanup yourself, DIY-style. While some aspects of a basement cleanup and repair – like electrical work and toxic septic waste – should be left to the professionals, removing carpet and drywall can be done fairly easily.

But first, let’s discuss whether or not a flooded basement would be covered under your homeowners insurance.

Is a Flooded Basement Covered by Homeowners Insurance?

The most important indicator of if your basement flood is covered by homeowners insurance is if you have flood insurance.

Once your electrician or professional plumber gives you the OK to enter your basement, make sure you take plenty of photos or videos of the damage – you’ll want to document everything for insurances purposes.

According to Angie’s List, some general home insurance companies may not automatically cover floods as part of your insurance policy and, consequently, won’t cover any water-damaged items. It’s important to call your insurance company and confirm whether you have flood insurance on your home.

If you do, and your basement floods, your insurance company should send out an adjuster to assess the damage and then contact and coordinate an on-site visit with a water remediation/restoration company.

How Do You DIY Fix a Flooded Basement?

The best way to handle a basement flooding is to act as soon as you get the go-ahead from an electrician or professional plumber. The faster you act, the less amount of damage and repair costs you’ll have to address in the aftermath.

Let’s go over the steps of what you can do to counteract most of the damage of a basement flood.

Step 1: Put on Protective Gear

Even though your professional plumber or contractor may have removed most of the hazards from your basement, it’s still a safety best practice to suit up with protective gear before venturing into the basement.

This includes:

  • Thick gloves
  • Waterproof boots (preferably rubber)
  • Mouth mask (surgical mask) and goggles

In addition, open up any and all windows located in your basement to allow most of the fumes to air out while you’re working. If you have a dehumidifier, this can also help get most of the moisture and leftover water out of the air.

Step 2: Remove Water-Damaged Items

Whether it’s two inches or two feet, standing water in your basement can cause damage to not only any possessions you might have stored, but also to the walls and carpeting.

If you have carpet with padding, chances are you’re going to have to rip it up and replace it. Leaving wet carpeting might lead to mold growth in your basement.

Drywall acts like a sponge when it’s wet, so it’s best to rip it out and throw it out. Plaster walls can be saved, but you need to get some air behind the wall to the dry the studs. If mold grows, most resources tell you that you can use a combination of bleach and water to kill it.

Step 3: Disinfect Every Surface

Every single thing that was touched by water needs to be addressed immediately.

By using a mixture of hot water, heavy-duty cleaner (like bleach or detergent) and a scrub brush on your walls and flooring, you’ll be able to kill most of the bacteria and prevent mold growth in your basement.

Of course, the process of removing water-damaged items and surface cleaning can be taxing. If you’d rather have a professional address the damage in your home, you can either get a recommendation from your homeowners insurance company or call a water remediation/restoration service that can do the cleaning for you. However, should you take this route, be prepared to spend a pretty penny: between $1,139 – $4,270, according to Home Advisor.

Do you have any tips for cleaning up your basement after a flood? Share your experience in the comments below.

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This Post Has 21 Comments

  1. My basement was sitting in about 9″ of water-from the drain that was clogged-water is gone now and mostly my basement is dry- this is an old house, and my cracks in the basement walls, so water does come in but never standing water-I do however have to clean up now-suggestions on cleaning the concrete floors?? I have some items to throw out I think that will be the easy part- I just want to make sure I disinfect everything-

  2. Hi we had a flood in the basement our sump pump failed causing water to go into 3 carpeted rooms. the insuance company had the restoration cpme in …romoved carpets after my complaining finally took off baseboards and cut bottom of drywal and removed damp instalation. They never removed contents (which they said they would pack up an put in a storage container which still never came over a week later) I am wonderng if a propper clean can be done with so much stuff being left in rooms ad on floor.

  3. Our basement flooded last spring due to a busted main water pipe. It totally filled my whole basement with a ton of water and to make it worse we were on vacation for 2 weeks. By the time we got back and noticed it the basement was doomed they had to replace every inch of sheetrock and flooring then the long process of cleaning it and dehumidifiers. That took about 3 weeks then we redid the whole basement it was gorgeous. Better then it was before. Fast forward to Jan 2017 and disaster we received over 80 inches of snow then the Temps fell to below 0 . But a week later Temps rose up to 50 degrees and pouring rain continued for 3 days because of that it melted all of the snow within 3 days and our ground could not handle that amount of water it just started pouring in from the floor near the walls my brand new basement is now runied again and this time insurance won’t cover it because it’s ground water. We called the restoration company out immediately and they pulled up the carpets and through away the pad plus they took off the baseboards and drilled holes in the walls to let the moisture out but our problem is that the water is continuing to come in. I’m so discouraged. I’m ready to walk away from this house and buy a house without a basement. I am purchasing flood insurance but they won’t cover anything for the first 30 days. The reason we didn’t have it is we don’t live in a flood plane and have never had this problem before in the 25 years of living here. I’m not t g e only one having these issues basements all across Utah are flooding .

    1. I’m sorry to hear that, Tonya. Unfortunately, even if the flood insurance did cover something in the first 30 days, they probably won’t cover anything relating to a flood that happened before you purchased the policy. You could try contacting your homeowners insurance company and seeing if there’s anything in your policy that might cover something. That would be my only advice. I’m very sorry.

      Thanks,
      Kevin Graham

  4. In the book “The Care of Antiques and Historical Collections,” by Per Ernst Guldbeck,
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  5. I like your tip to turn off the electricity to the basement. Regardless of whether the flood was caused by a sewage backup or a broken pipe, you do not want to be electrocuted while searching for the problem. Opening windows and getting air in can help with preventing mold and bad smells, but preventing electric shocks should be your first priority. Thanks for all the advice.

  6. Amanda Pallay, These are the great tips which you have provided people to already prepared when this type of any damage occurs. Once I also go through this type of situation and I really don’t know what to do but for a cleanup, it should be necessary to call any Water damage restoration company or any professionals to clean the damaged areas.

  7. My basement flooded recently and I wish I had found your post then! Great tips, especially disinfecting every surface. You can never be too careful.

    1. Hi Danielle, I’m sorry to hear about your basement, hopefully it wasn’t too bad! Glad we could at least provide a few tips!

  8. Then, a specially trained and licensed remediation expert will remove the mold infected portions of your home, or contents,
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  9. Flooded basements are no fun. but there are methods for drying flooded basements to prevent mold. Water removal using a sump pump or water extraction from the wet carpet are the first tasks that need tackling. For deep water a Utility Pump can be used to remove standing water.

  10. Nice post…

    Here are few tips that you have skipped:

    – You must cut off the supply of electricity and water of your house as soon as it is flooded.
    – You must extract water slowly and steadily out of the basement of your house.

  11. This is helpful suggestion. Best thing is to understand that it is going to take time to clean and repair, but important first step is to get the water out of your house.

  12. After a flood, cleaning up is a long and hard process and it’s important to restore our home to good order as soon as possible to protect our health and prevent further damage to our house and belongings. Whether we do the work yourself or hire a contractor, this handy checklist will help us organize the clean up.

  13. My basement flooded once. But it was only a sump pump problem, so no sewage issues. I was pretty lucky in the big picture. Probably cost me around $200 total to buy a new pump and rent a carpet cleaner. Today the basement doesn’t smell at all.

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