How To Prepare For Basement Flooding

Move valuables to another area and place boxes on shelves to prevent water damage when rain leaks into your basement or the sump pump breaks.

One of the busiest times for insurance adjusters is after a heavy rainfall or a violent storm when the power goes out and basements flood. Many homeowners head down the steps with trepidation, fearing water damage following such events, and all too often their fears come true.

If your basement leaks or the sump pump stops working on occasion, it is better to take action now than to suffer loss later. Here are some things you can do to prepare for your basement's possible flooding:

1. Find out what is causing the problem. A simple repair to the sump pump or patching cracks in your basement's floor or walls may solve the problem. The other possibility is that you may have to spend thousands of dollars to bring the problem under control if you must replace the sump pump or if cracks in the foundation are significant. Do what you can to identify and address the water damage source.



2. Don't keep valuable items in the basement. Boxes of bank statements, personal documents like birth certificates or passports, or precious family heirlooms should be moved to higher ground. If your attic has no damage problems of this type, you may want to keep valuable possessions there instead. Otherwise, boxes of important things may be damaged directly by flood water or they may be impacted by airborne mold or mildew. An exception might be to keep such things in a secure safe or waterproof container.

3. Move everything off the floor. Put tools, old clothes, and children's toys in boxes and place these on shelving that will keep them off the floor. Seal everything in airtight containers to prevent damage from mold and to avoid their absorbing an unpleasant odor. It may be best not to put carpet on the floor since it will be difficult to clean and dry out after flooding. If you want to install indoor-outdoor carpeting, don't use a pad underneath, as these tend to absorb and hold liquid that can be hard to evaporate or remove.

4. Organize basement structures accordingly. Locate light switches and other electrical appliances near the steps or other protected area. This will help to reduce the risk of electrocution of someone who wants to turn on the light to assess water damage or who may be unaware of water on the ground when reaching for the light switch. Also, if you get glass block windows installed, get the kind with a vent that can open to let in fresh air. This will help to ventilate the basement area in case of flooding.

5. Keep flashlights and fans handy. If the power goes out, you will need a flashlight to assess damage and avoid turning on electrical lights when the power is on but the floor is under water. You can use the fan, when it is safe to plug it in, to circulate air that can help dry out a basement with water damage.

Do everything you can ahead of time to prevent or minimize flood damage. Plan appropriately to manage the water backup when it occurs so you won't be blind-sided.

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