Wondering what to do when your basement floods? If so, don’t hit that back button because this article has the information you need.

Basement flooding can be caused by various things, including broken pipes, leaky water heaters, heavy rainfall, and the worst of all, sewage backups. Whatever the cause of the flooding, you’ll need to act quickly to minimize the damage.

In this article, we’re going to cover what to do when your basement floods, how to prevent your basement from flooding, why you should hire a pro to help you clean up, insurance, and more.

You’ll also want to read our article about Basement Drain Systems because they’re the secret to a dry basement.

photo of flooded basement - what to do when basement floods

What to do when your basement floods

1. Shut off electricity and gas

Before you do anything else, make sure the electricity and gas have been turned off. If you don’t know how to do this, ask a professional. Do not enter the basement until you’ve shut off the power. If you can’t access the panel without entering the basement, call the electric company. Do not go into the basement before shutting off the electricity.

If you have appliances that use gas, have the gas company turn off the gas. If the pilot light goes out, gas could enter the basement. So, if you smell gas, leave immediately and call the gas company.

2. Find out where the water is coming from

If your basement is flooding because of heavy rain, you’ll need to wait until it stops before you do anything. However, if the problem is a broken pipe, immediately turn off the water main.

If it’s a sewage backup, you have a serious health risk on your hands. We recommend calling a professional. However, if you want to attempt the cleanup yourself, you’ll need to wear protective gear and a respirator.

Keep in mind that your sewer drain might connect to the storm drain. If it does, the water could be coming in not from a blockage or break in your sewer line but via an overwhelmed storm drain system. Has it been raining heavily?

If you don’t know how the water got in, call a foundation repair contractor who does basement waterproofing, a plumbing contractor, or a company specializing in disaster restoration.

1. Start cleaning up the mess

After you’ve shut off the power (and/or gas) and figured out how the water is getting in, it’s time to start cleaning up the mess. You’ll want to do this as soon as possible to minimize water damage.

steps to take when your basement floods

If the water contains sewage, you’ll need to wear protective gear. However, even if there’s no sewage in the water, you should still wear boots, gloves, and a mask for protection. Unless you’ve done this before and know what you’re doing, we strongly advise you to call a professional. However, if you’re determined to do it yourself, here are a few tips:

  • Remove any standing water – After you make sure your basement floor drain isn’t clogged, you can remove the water using a particular type of wet-dry vacuum, a submersible pump, a pool pump, or just a bucket.
  • Quickly dry everything – This includes walls, floors, and all items in the basement. Any moisture left will cause mold to start growing. If mold has already begun to grow, clean it using a mixture of water and bleach.
  • Throw out anything damaged – Keep in mind that some materials – cardboard boxes, paper, etc. – are impossible to clean once mold has started to grow. Because mold on carpeting could damage the subfloor, carpeting should be either dried completely or removed. Of course, if sewage caused the flooding, you’ll need to throw away everything that came into contact with the water unless it can be thoroughly sanitized.
  • If you want everything to dry, you’ll need plenty of ventilation – Open the doors and windows. A dehumidifier and one or more industrial drying fans can also help. Both can be rented.
  • Don’t attempt to move or use any electrical items – This includes TVs, washing machines, dryers, etc., until an electrician has inspected them and says they’re safe to use.

Will my homeowners insurance cover a flooded basement?

It depends on what caused the flooding. Homeowners insurance doesn’t usually cover flooding caused by natural disasters (hurricanes, for example) or heavy rain unless you have special coverage. However, it usually does cover flooding caused by a burst pipe or sewage backup. The only way to know for sure if you’re covered is to call your insurance company and ask. They’ll tell you what’s covered and what you need to do next.

photo of flooded basement cleanup

Why you should hire a professional to clean up a flooded basement

Cleaning up a flooded basement is a big task, one most people don’t want to attempt, especially if the water is several feet deep or contains sewage. As we mentioned above, a flooded basement must be dried thoroughly, or mold will start to grow. Professionals know how to get this done quickly. They’ll also be able to tell you what caused the flooding – if you don’t know – and how to prevent future flooding.

Flooded basement cleanup cost

The cost to clean up a flooded basement will depend on your geographical location, the size of the basement, and the chosen solution. At Epp Foundation Repair, the cost to install a drain tile system and clean up a flooded basement ranges from $3K-$15K. Keep in mind that this is not merely a one-time cleanup but includes installing a drainage system that both will prevent your basement from being flooded again and keep it dry and comfortable so you can use it as a living space.

How to prevent your basement from flooding

Fortunately, there are some things you can do to prevent your basement from flooding:

  • Clean your gutters regularly – Clogged gutters can cause water to flow over the side of your house and into the soil next to the foundation. Water-logged soil next to a basement foundation is a recipe for trouble.
  • Install downspouts extensions, if necessary – If your home’s downspouts are too short, they’ll dump water next to the foundation. Downspout extensions are an easy way to channel water away from the foundation before releasing it.
  • Make sure your yard is properly graded – The yard around your home needs to slope away from the foundation. Landscapers and foundation repair specialists can help you with this. It also might be a good DIY project.
  • Install a drain tile system – Drain tile systems come in two varieties: interior and exterior. They are, without a doubt, the gold standard when it comes to keeping water out of your basement. A drain tile system prevents water from getting into your basement by ensuring that moisture can’t build up in the soil around the foundation. Any excess moisture in the soil is collected, and then a sump pump channels it away from the foundation.
  • Periodically pump your septic tank – Cleaning your septic tank on a regular basis gets rid of any built-up sludge and prevents backups and flooding.
  • If you see any cracks, get a foundation inspection – Vertical cracks in your basement wall are caused during the concrete curing process. While they don’t affect your home’s structural integrity, they can allow water to seep into your basement. Horizontal cracks – with or without bowing – can also allow water into your basement. However, horizontal cracks are a sign of structural damage. If you see any cracks – vertical or horizontal – in your home’s basement walls, contact a foundation repair contractor right away for an inspection.
  • Get your sewer inspected regularly – A quick CCTV inspection of your sewer pipes will let you know if something’s wrong that could cause a backup and flood.

So, to sum up, what to do when your basement floods:

1. Turn off the power and/or gas.
2. Find out how the water is getting into the basement.
3. Clean up the mess.

Basement flooding is undoubtedly unpleasant. However, it’s not the end of the world, and you don’t need to do the cleanup yourself. There are plenty of professionals out there who can help you, including companies that specialize in disaster restoration, plumbing contractors, and foundation repair contractors that do basement waterproofing.

For more information see What Is A French Drain System For A Basement?

Contact us today if your basement has flooded and you’re in our service area in Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, and Missouri.