What to Do the First Time Your Basement Floods

A basement flood is alarming, but don't charge into the murky water. There are some precautions you must take.

When you experience your first basement flood, it’s amazing how your vocabulary becomes simplified to a few four-letter words. Let them out if you must, but remember this one especially:

STOP!

Stepping into basement flood water is more dangerous than it looks.

Basement Flood Safety

A basement flood, especially your first one, is, without a doubt, alarming. But, you have to slow down. It’s going to take time to fix this problem and if you charge down the stairs into that murky mess with electrical appliances and/or outlets already under water, you risk serious injury. Never set foot in basement flood water if there is a chance the water could transmit an electrical charge. If you’re not sure, stay out of the basement until you can ensure that the power to the basement is turned off. This may require an electrician.

As a general rule, if there is more than 2 inches of water throughout the entire basement, don’t step into the water. You need to be concerned about electricity and gas. Turn off power to the basement if you can safely access the main electrical service panel without stepping in the water. If not, call an electrician. If water is flirting with gas-powered appliances, like the furnace or water heater, call the gas company to turn off the gas. Smell gas? A pilot light may be out. Leave your home immediately and call the gas company.

Where’s the Water Coming From?

According to Basement Systems, a basement improvement company, typical causes of a basement flood are plumbing leaks and sieve-like basement windows and/or a permeable basement foundation (the most common cause) that let in rain or ground water.

What’s next?

Patience. Beyond that, the home warranty company, American Home Shield, says you’ll need a wet/dry vacuum, a submersible pump, a fan, space heater and mold-control products because you’ll have to throw out and salvage belongings, dry the basement and prevent mold growth. To help prevent another flood, consider a sump pump and a dry well.