Is Your Basement Flooded?

Learn the signs of a flooded basement.

Do You Have a Flooded Basement?

Your basement is more at risk of flooding and water damage than any other area of your home because it’s below ground level. Basement flooding can happen for many reasons ranging from seepage through the walls to a sewer backup. Don’t assume all basement flooding results in water on the floor, either; your basement may be showing signs of water damage already that you haven’t recognized. Here’s what you need to know about dealing with a flooded basement.

What Causes Basement Flooding?

A basement can flood at any time, even if it has never flooded before. Most flooding happens during a big storm or rapid snowmelt, but it can even happen when the weather is dry.

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Basements are prone to flooding because they are the lowest level of the home and at least partially below ground. Groundwater may sometimes be located above the level of the basement’s floor. The same can apply to sewer lines. Gravity moves water from high areas to low. When groundwater or water in a sewer line is above the basement floor, gravity will try to move the water into the basement. All it takes is a weak point for water to enter, such as a crack in the foundation.

There are many factors that can contribute to basement flooding:

  • Seepage. When the water table rises, water can get into the basement through holes, cracks, and defects in the foundation.
  • Poor grading if the slope of the land directs water toward the house.
  • Cracks in the foundation that allow water into the basement.
  • Issues with the plumbing, such as the weeping tile and laterals.
  • Failed sewer lateral. The sewer lateral degrades over time and causes wastewater to back up to the lowest fixture in your home. This is usually a toilet, shower, or sink in the basement.
  • Surface inflow. This happens during wet weather when surface water pools around the house and flows into the home.
  • Sump pump failure. A basement with a sump pump usually means the drainage system around the foundation needs a little help keeping up with groundwater or it doesn’t drain well enough with gravity. When a sump pump is working, it can safely remove excess water.

Basement Water Damage Restoration

Nothing compares to the emotional devastation of discovering everything in your basement is underwater, including family photos and heirlooms. While a flooded basement is awful, it’s not beyond repair. The most important thing to do is take action quickly as the longer the water sits, the more it will cost to clean up — and the more belongings will be beyond repair.

Stopping the flow of water is the first course of action. This will depend on the source of the water. If the problem is groundwater, stopping water from coming in will require waterproofing your basement or foundation repair. The water will next need to be removed with a high-capacity pump before repairs can be made.

After the water is removed, the restoration can begin. Upholstery, carpet, rugs, and paper products will most likely be ruined, especially if the water was contaminated. Sentimental items can sometimes be restored, however. The entire space will need to be dried and dehumidified to stop mold and bacteria growth.

Restoring a water damaged basement is a big project. To avoid a flooded basement in the future, consider these steps:

  • Insulate pipes. Thawing pipes often lead to flooded basements.
  • Install a high water alarm and leak detector. These devices alert you when there is a small leak so it can be repaired before it gets worse.
  • Install a sump pump.
  • Maintain the backwater valve on your home to stop sewage from getting into the home.
  • Be careful about what you flush down the toilet or drains.

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