what should i use to clean my basement after a flood

How to Clean Up Water in the Basement

Coming home to discover a flooded basement is no one’s idea of a good time, but you don’t need to panic. Though basement floods can cause significant damage to your home if left unchecked, you can minimize the potential cost if you act quickly.

Taking preventative measures will reduce the likelihood of having to worry about flooding again.

In this guide, we’ll take you through what to do if your basement has flooded in a handy step-by-step guide. We’ll also cover some of the factors that make flooding more likely, so you can get ahead by preparing for the worst.

How Much Does It Cost to Clean Up a Flooded Basement?

Floods are the number one most common disaster in the United States, and they cost insurance companies billions each year. Thankfully, it won’t cost you billions if your basement floods. With insurance footing the bill, most basement flood clean-ups will cost a few hundred dollars a year, though rates will vary.

If you don’t have insurance, the cost of fixing a flooded basement will entirely rely on the extent of the damage. You may even be able to fix it yourself if the damage isn’t too severe.

7 Steps to Clean Up a Flooded Basement

If you do have the option to clean up the mess yourself, you must do it right. We’ve broken this process down into seven key steps.

1. Turn Off the Power

The first thing you need to do is turn off your power. Otherwise, you could electrify yourself in the water and severely injure either yourself or others.

If you don’t have access to the circuit breaker or aren’t sure how to turn your power off completely, contact a professional. It simply isn’t worth taking the risk.

2. Suit Up!

You will need to wear the proper protective clothing before delving into the floodwaters, especially if it has reached beyond a foot deep. Try to waterproof yourself as much as possible, including boots, gloves, and a mask.

If you suspect mold infestation has already taken place, we recommend you wear goggles. Protective gear will minimize the risk of negative repercussions to your health from mold spores that may have entered the air.

3. Check the Flooding Has Stopped

Numerous things can cause floods, be it severe weather or a burst pipe. Before starting any kind of cleanup process, you need to ensure that the flooding has stopped. Otherwise, all your efforts will be in vain.

Start by trying to identify where the water originally came from and plugging the source if possible. If you’re sure it has stopped, you can continue.

If you can’t figure out how the flood started and don’t know if it has stopped, we recommend calling a professional to assess the damage.

4. Act Quickly to Dry the Basement

Water damage can worsen quickly, and sometimes mold takes just 48 hours to form. If you know that the flooding has stopped and feel confident in completing the cleanup process yourself, it’s best to act quickly. There are two common ways you can remove water from your basement, either with a sump pump (provided it’s still operational) or a wet/dry vacuum.

If you choose to use a wet/dry vacuum, remember that you will have to empty the canister of water several times throughout the process. It is important that you empty this water into your yard, far enough away from your house that there’s no possibility of it returning.

Once you’ve removed all of the water, placing large fans in your basement can help speed up the drying process by improving ventilation.

5. Remove All Wet Items

Mold thrives in damp environments, and damp fabric or drywall is especially susceptible to mold growth. Remove all wet items from your basement, including insulation and carpeting.

It is also advisable that you discard any electrical items, including outlets, if they have been exposed to water. Even if they seem functional, they could pose a fire hazard when used in the future.

6. Clean Everything

Mold is nothing if not persistent. Once you’ve removed the water and wet furniture, you also need to wipe down all surfaces.

Cleaning the surfaces helps ensure no lingering spores could come back and cause you problems later. A simple mixture of water and detergent should be enough to kill the mold—just make sure you’re thorough!

7. Begin the Waterproofing Process

Our final step is to invest in prevention. No matter how safe your property may feel or how unlikely a flood may seem, it can happen to anyone. 

Sump pumps are a highly effective way to prevent basement floods, so we advise fitting one ASAP. If you already have one, make sure it is still fully functional.

Your sump pump should be serviced every three to four months, just to be sure it’s still operational. You should also make sure your gutters are clear of any blockages, so water can freely run away from your home.

How to Get Water Out of a Basement Without a Pump

Removing Water From Basement Without a Sump Pump

A sump pump prevents your basement from flooding in the first place. However, in severe weather conditions, especially in the case of hurricanes, sometimes your electricity can cut out entirely. An outage will prevent your sump pump from operating effectively and make your basement susceptible to flooding.

Luckily, there are ways to remove water from your basement even if your sump pump isn’t functional. Listed below are some of our top tips, including options if you have no electricity.

Reach for a Trusty Mop and Bucket

Though this may seem like a rudimentary solution, especially if the flooding is severe, a mop and bucket can be surprisingly effective. All you need to do is remove bucketfuls of water and mop up the rest.

Blue And Red Mop Bucket

Dispose of this water outside your home and repeat the process as required. It’s best to empty the buckets at least twenty feet away from your home. Otherwise, there’s a risk of return!

Utilize a Hand or Crank Pump

Sometimes flooding can result in a loss of electricity, which may be why you can’t use a sump pump. In that case, a hand pump could be the ideal solution. The device requires no electricity, and all you need to do is hook it up to a hose pipe. The pump will swiftly direct the water out into your yard, all operated by your hand.

Similarly, you could use a crank pump. These work in a similar way to hand pumps in that they require no electricity and are manually operated. They are a simple and efficient way to quickly remove large amounts of water.

As we mentioned before, try to move the water sufficiently far away from your property to prevent it from returning.

Use a Wet/Dry Vacuum

If you still have access to electricity despite the flooding, a highly effective option can be to use a wet/dry vacuum. It essentially works identically to a regular vacuum, except it can suck up liquid.

All you need to do is run the device along the flooded area, and it will remove the water. Depending on the design of the vacuum, you may be able to simply empty the tank afterward into your backyard or somewhere similar outdoors.

Don’t Do it All At Once

It would be understandably tempting to fix a flooded basement as soon as possible without any hesitation. However, you’ll waste your energy if it is not immediately apparent whether or not the flooding has ceased.

Removing the water will be a fruitless effort if you have a continuous leak. Instead, remove some of the water and mark how high it once was on the wall. You can remove items from the room in the meantime to reduce the damage and check back later to see if the water has risen again or stayed level. If it has stayed level, you can continue the removal process.

Common Causes of a Flooded Basement

So, now we’ve covered what you should do if your basement has flooded. Let’s talk about what may have caused it.

There are multiple potential factors at play, some of which are unavoidable. Understanding them, however, could help to minimize the likelihood of a future incident.

Location

This one, in most cases, cannot be helped. Some locations in the United States are simply more prone to flooding than others, especially if you live near large bodies of water or at the base of a hill. If you live somewhere flooding is likely, taking preventative measures is a must.

Insufficient Weatherproofing

General maintenance can go a long way when weatherproofing your basement. Water can seep in through the smallest of hairline cracks, and before you know it, you can end up with a flood.

Your best solution is to prepare your basement sufficiently with the proper drainage system to minimize the risk of pooling water.

Severe Weather Events

Hurricanes, heavy rain, and freak storms significantly increase the risk of flooding. If you live in an area where severe weather events are common, make sure you prepare your home. It’s easy to assume that it’ll never happen to you, but it can be a costly assumption. Don’t take the risk; prepare sufficiently!

Plumbing Leaks

It isn’t uncommon for pipes to burst for seemingly no reason. Sometimes it’s just due to general wear and tear. Other times it’s because of drastic temperature changes. Whatever the reason behind it, a broken pipe can flood a basement tremendously fast.

If you discover a leak, try to halt it as soon as possible and contact a professional for restoration services.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I Get Standing Water Out of My Basement?

Any of our above methods are highly effective. However, if you feel overwhelmed by employing these tactics yourself, you can always call in the professionals. Sometimes a professional opinion is the safest option, especially if this isn’t familiar territory for you. Water damage is no joke, and the floodwater may simply return if you don’t remove it sufficiently!

How Can I Pump Water Without a Pump?

Remember, a sump pump isn’t the only kind of pump available to you. As we suggested above, you can use either a hand pump or crank pump, as we suggested above! Neither require electricity and are relatively easy to use. They will require more physical exertion, but they are highly efficient ways to remedy your flood before the damage can set in and lead to costly repairs.

How Serious Is a Basement Water Leak?

Very serious. Basement flooding is more than a mere inconvenience. At best, it can lead to an infestation of mold and mildew. At worst, it can compromise your walls, floors, and even ceiling if it reaches that level.

Basement floods also can be hazardous beyond structural damages. If the backed-up water has come from the sewer line, you can risk deadly diseases.

You should act quickly to remedy the problem, but an emergency water damage repair may be your best solution to avoid adverse health impacts.

Contact All Dry USA!

At All Dry USA, we understand how stressful it can be when anything goes wrong with your home. A flood can be incredibly frustrating. Luckily, our professionals have years of experience assisting homeowners with various problems, including basement flooding.

If your home has recently flooded, or you just want some advice on preventing a future flood, contact us today! We would be happy to hear from you and ease some of your concerns

Ben Suiskind
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