Walking into your basement to find flooding would cause anyone to be alarmed and stressed out. It can also be an extremely dangerous area for someone to try to take care of on their own. To make life the simplest, seek the help of an expert to help you handle the nightmare this flooding has created.
Help from a professional will keep your family from being at risk of explosion, electrocution, and mold. If the hazard risks aren’t enough, there is also a lot of cleaning involved after flooding. Some of the scrubbing will require you to get on your hands and knees.
Seeking the help of a professional water damage restoration company can minimize risk and the time it takes to get it all done. Time is of the essence after flooding as mold grows quickly, often spreading within 24 hours.
7 Steps to Follow after Flooding
1. DO NOT Enter the Basement
Your first thought when walking downstairs and seeing that your basement has flooded might be to protect those family heirlooms and treasures that you thought were safely stored. However, walking into the flooded territory poses a high risk for electrocution which would only make matters worse. Coming into contact with electrically charged water will cause electrocution. Even if the flooding is minimal it is not worth the risk of being shocked. Before heading into the flooded waters there are many steps to take to ensure that you and everyone in your home are safe.
2. Completely Shut Off Power
You should consider every piece of electrical equipment that was affected by the flooding ruined and will need to be replaced. The home’s electrical meter must be removed from its socket for the house to be completely disconnected from power. This should only be done by a licensed professional that understands what they are doing. If this is not done properly there is still a risk for shock. Never try to do any of this work by yourself or handle any part of the flooding process alone. Safety is in numbers!
3. Call Your Insurance
Even if you don’t think you are covered it doesn’t hurt to make a phone call to see if flooding is covered in your policy. Flooding is not normally covered in a regular homeowner policy, it is something you add on. However, if the flooding is caused by a burst pipe your insurance will often cover it. You will need to file a flood insurance claim after you figure out the status of your coverage. Knowing what kind of money you will have to fork out will change how you proceed with the next steps.
4. Identify Where the Water Source of the Flooding is Coming From
Will The Flooding Happen Again?
Finding the source of the flooding is your best chance at preventing it in the future. Once you know where the flood is coming from you can better figure out how contaminated the water is. Figuring out what type of water you are dealing with will change how you handle the issue. Wastewater comes in two forms and this is one thing you should ask yourself, “Is the flooding coming from White Water, Black Water, or Grey Water?” White Water is not a form of wastewater as it comes from rain and broken pipes. Keep in mind that the contamination continues to grow no matter which level the water starts at. It takes about 48 hours for White Water to become Grey Water and then another 48 hours to become Black Water. You need to assume all flooded waters are Black Water to keep yourself safe. Remember that even if it started from a clean source it only takes a couple of days for the water to turn.
How To Tell the Difference between White Water, Grey Water, and Black Water
- White Water or Clean Water can be handled with more ease but also needs immediate action as it will quickly start to turn into contaminated water.
- Grey Water has fewer contaminants as it comes from water from the homes that we use to bathe and clean with. Even though this water is less contaminated than Black Water it should be handled with care. Always follow the safety steps to ensure you are not coming into contact with toxins it may possess.
- Black Water comes from toilet waste. In the event of flooding from a natural disaster, you are also dealing with Black Water as it combines with sewage before reaching your home. Touching this water means putting yourself at high risk for illness and infection. If possible, leave it to professionals with proper equipment and tools to remove Black Water. The air surrounding Black Water may also pose a problem if the water is heavily infected with bacteria. Circulating this air with fans and running the HVAC system will move this contaminated air around; so make sure it is safe to do so first and then proceed with caution.
5. Remove the Water ASAP
You now know that mold can start growing in less than 24 hours and if sewage is involved, it can grow even more quickly. The faster you handle the situation and get the area aired out and dry, the better. If you end up having to clean the flooded basement yourself, there is equipment you can purchase or rent. Removing the water quickly might end up saving you money in the long run. The faster the water is out of your home, the less of a chance mold has to form which starts to eliminate safety hazards.
6. Drying and Cleaning Damp Objects
Anything that came into contact with the water needs to be sanitized, including the walls and baseboards. Check any furniture that was in the flooded waters and clean or replace them accordingly. If there is carpeting downstairs, it will most likely need to be replaced. You will have to tear it up to check if the pad underneath is damaged. You can try to salvage the carpet by professionally cleaning it. The carpet pads are harder to clean and dry but they are cheaper than the carpet itself. If the carpet is cleaned thoroughly you may only have to replace the carpet pads. Any rugs that were exposed to the flood need to be cleaned by a professional. If they cannot be restored to sanitary conditions, they need to be disposed of.
If you leave any damp items around there is a high chance they will get mold and then you have another issue on your hands. Do yourself a favor and be thorough about the drying process. Ensure everything is 100% moisture-free before returning to store it in the basement.
Taking time to make sure everything is dried out completely is of utmost importance. Once the water is removed the basement is still going to be damp and will need proper ventilation to dry out. You can do this through a few different means. A dehumidifier will help prevent mold from growing and provides air movement to get the drying process started. It’s a good idea to keep a dehumidifier running even after cleanup from the flood as basements are generally damp areas. If at all possible, open every window to get fresh air inside and remove the toxic air trapped in the basement. Grab fans from around the house and get them running to circulate new, fresh air.
Flooding inside your home is never fun for anyone. Following these steps can help you get your home back to normal and leave you feeling assured that you took the necessary precautions.