Basement flooding - what to do??
All basements are prone to flooding. Water always runs from high to low ground, and this means that under the right circumstances your basement becomes an unwanted swimming pool. But where does the water come from?
One common culprit behind basement flooding is rain. Excessive amounts of rain in a short period of time can overload basement waterproofing systems, saturating the earth around your basement and then pushing in through foundation cracks.
Properly waterproofed basements and homes should have a tar sealant on both the inside and outside of foundation walls, in addition to what's known as "weeping tile." This tile pulls water away from your home to the local sewer system. If these systems fail because they can't handle the incoming water load, your basement will flood.
The slope of your lawn, also called the "grade," can contribute to your basement flooding. Your lawn should always slope away from your house, directing rainwater toward the sewer system. To make sure your lawn isn't the problem, take a walk around your home when it's raining. If you see water pooling next to your house, you have a problem.
Sewer backups also cause basement flooding. Suburban homes usually have a sewer tie-in line that is lower than the floor of the basement, allowing dirty water from tubs, toilets and sinks to be carried away. If this sewer line becomes clogged or damaged and its waterline rises above that of your basement floor, expect water to come rushing back into your home.
If a flood occurs, remove any organic items such as bedding, towels and upholstery that have been damaged. If they don't dry within 48 hours, throw them away because they'll start to mold. Next, take a look at the basement structure. Any wet drywall needs to be completely removed, as does wet insulation or wood underneath. Water will spread through these materials quickly, and even slightly damp wood grows mold. Mold spores and contamination can lead to serious health issues, address any mold concerns immediately, as mold spreads quickly throughout a home.
If you have flood insurance, call your insurance provider. If you're not sure, check your plan. Some companies deliberately omit floods or "acts of God' and won't cover the replacement of any water-damaged items. Knowing this upfront is very important.
The insurance company will send out an adjuster to assess the damage, take a list of all the items and call in a professional. Whether you go with insurance or not, chances are you'll want to call an expert. You have several choices here. Basement waterproofing companies can get the water out and deal with any foundation issues, whereas disaster restoration specialists (like SERVPRO) will remove the water, deal with any mold and mildew issues and then return your basement to (nearly) its original state.