There’s nothing better than waking up on a Monday morning feeling oddly refreshed, and with the sun shining, birds singing and a basement flood. Wait, what? There are a million things better than that! But that is exactly what many home in Kansas City are experiencing today after large amounts of rain dumped into the area over the weekend.
Now, what do you do? Here is a bit of advise from our Superior Restoration and Construction staff and crew.
After assessing the situation and making sure that there were no broken or leaking pipes and the sump pump was still working, we get to work cleaning out the floor drains to help clear any blockages that might have helped contribute to the standing water.
Keep in mind, a flood can be anywhere from 2 inches to 2 feet (or more) of water, and that water can be sewage backup or rainwater (or a combination of the two). We have tried to pare down the information so that it’s applicable in any flood-type situation.
First things first – protect yourself. You don’t’ know what is in this water that’s flooding your basement. It could be water pouring out of the hot water heater or it could be nasty water full of things like E. coli, Salmonella, Hepatitis…. Wear gloves, wear waterproof boots. If necessary, wear a mask or goggles. You may feel silly, but wouldn’t you rather be silly than sick? Next, disconnect the main electricity to the basement. Even if you have only 1 inch of standing water, there could have been a short, or some other electrical issue. Water conducts electricity. Do not be the person to get electrocuted in 1 inch of water.
Determine the cause of the flood. If the flood is a result of a broken pipe, turn off the water at the shut-off valve. If it’s a backup from a blocked drain, do your best to unblock the drain – rent an auger or call a plumbing professional, remove any visible blockages, anything to get water flowing OUT. Open any available windows or doors to let fresh air in. You may need it if your flood was caused by a block in the septic line.
Now, get the water out. If you have only a few inches, you should be able to remove the water yourself. If you have to wear a life jacket just to assess the damage, then call a professional immediately. Depending on how often you have to worry about floods, you may want to invest in a submersible water pump. They come in a variety of sizes and prices, and they work really well to remove water quickly.
Run a dehumidifier and fans. This is the best thing to do once the bulk of the water is removed, and you have determined that there are no electrical issues. A dehumidifier helps prevent mold formation and removes the moisture out of the air. The dryer the air, the less water-damage restoration you’ll have to do later. A good tip to remember – shut the windows when you’re running the dehumidifier. You’ll be working against the great outdoors, and ultimately yourself, if you forget this step.
Carpeting is a problem. If you have nice carpet with padding, I hate to say it, but chances are you’re going to have to rip it up and replace it. Getting the water out of the padding and sub-flooring is tricky but possible. This is where professional help may be required and worth it to save your flooring investment. If possible see if you can lift the carpet to dry underneath. That will help considerably. Your electric bill won’t thank you but your lungs will. The thing you’re looking to avoid is mold.
Remove any damaged drywall. Drywall acts like a sponge when it’s wet – soaks it up and hangs onto it for dear life. Plaster walls can be saved, but you need to get some air behind the wall to the dry the studs. Professionals will have large air movers by the dozens and can help if the issues are too large to handle.
If you do get mold, most resources tell you that you can use a combination of bleach and water to kill it. While this may work if you have concentrated chlorine type bleach, most of the bleach we have on hand is diluted pre-purchase. So by mixing it with water, you’re further diluting it and it becomes even less effective on mold on porous materials. The best thing to use on any porous material is a fungicidal spray directly on the affected area.
The most important thing of all is to disinfect every surface. Every single thing that touched water needs cleaning. Hot water, heavy-duty cleaner and a scrub brush. We work in a grid throughout my basement, taking each section in a small square, slowly making my way through the entire area. Then, when done surface scrubbing, and the floor was nearly dry, a carpet steam cleaner is required. You definitely don’t want to take chances with any sort of bacteria or contamination thinking it’s ok to just crash in your basement for a while.
Finally, when in doubt throw it out. There are ways to dry out books, paper, clothes, things. But you have to consider if it’s worth the time and the work you need to invest to avoid getting sick.
But remember, the most important thing when cleaning up a basement flood is getting rid of the water. While that may seem the most obvious, sometimes, people go through boxes, sort through things that can be saved, or wait to decide if they can do the cleanup themselves or hire a professional. Don’t waste time. Get working on that water because the longer you wait, the more damage you accrue, and the harder it will be in the long run.
Superior Restoration and Construction – www.kcsuperior.com – are experts at smoke, fire, mold and water clean up and restoration located in Kansas City. Serving the Greater Kansas City area, Superior Restoration and Construction have been restoring property damage and doing apartment renovations since 2014.