What NOT To Do When You Have A Flooded Basement

flooded basementA typical 900-square foot flooded basement with water one foot deep contains about 6,500 gallons. While professional water damage recovery services arrive with equipment specifically designed for this job—as well as the expertise to do it right—some homeowners still elect to tackle it themselves. The “Do’s” for safely removing such a large volume of water are many, but let’s start with some important “Don’ts.” Here’s what NOT to do when you have a flooded basement.

Don’t wade into the basement until household electricity has been shut off. The risk of electrocution is great and deaths occur every year from this cause. Because the main power panel is often in the basement, you’ll need a professional electrician to disconnect power at the meter, then verify that the basement is safe to enter.

Don’t contact water in basement flooding. A flooded basement may contain toxic raw sewage or other toxins from outdoor flooding. Health threats can come from direct contact with contaminated water or from breathing fumes that have accumulated in the enclosed environment. Wear adequate protection.

Don’t pump out deep basement flooding all at once. Outdoor flood water saturates ground surrounding the basement, greatly increasing external pressure against basement walls. If all water is removed rapidly, the weight of saturated earth may cause severe structural damage or complete collapse of basement walls. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends this sequence:

  1. Wait until outside flood water has receded before pumping out the basement.
  2. Pump out one foot of water depth to start. Mark the water level and wait until the next day.
  3. Check the water level mark. If the level rose overnight, wait another 24 hours before pumping again.
  4. Repeat the above sequence, pumping out only one foot per day, marking the level and then checking it after 24 hours.
  5. Once the water level stops rising, pump out water at a rate not exceeding three feet per every 24 hours until all water is removed from the basement.

For more about what to do and not to do about about a flooded basement, ask the water damage professionals at Rytech, Inc.

 

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