It is a simple matter of physics. Water wants to move downward, and basements give it a place to go. Basement flooding can occur due to extreme weather, burst pipes, or backed-up drains. It is impossible to predict or entirely prevent basement flooding, but by learning about common outcomes, you'll suffer less damage.
Here are five common lessons homeowners have learned after water invaded their basement.
Lesson 1: Cardboard boxes are not waterproof
Not only do cardboard boxes allow water to seep in and damage their contents, but they also permit the growth of mold. Instead, storing your possessions in airtight plastic containers keeps everything safer and makes cleanup much easier.
Lesson 2: Store your valuables off the floor
All items – especially furniture – should be stored at least one foot off the floor. Place everything on top of blocks or some other structure to keep it out of reach of water seepage.
You might also consider keeping your irreplaceable photos, documents and memorabilia elsewhere in the house. Flood damaged books and wet documents can be restored, but it makes more sense to stash them somewhere less prone to water leakage.
Lesson 3: Time is of the essence
Wet books, documents and boxes are the perfect breeding ground for mold. Mold can grow rapidly, especially in a high-humidity environment, and it can be a health hazard as well as a threat to your property. It's important to dry out all your belongings as quickly as possible.
If you plan to call in professionals to help restore wet documents and water damaged photos, the first 24 hours are crucial. In many cases, your damaged documents can be recovered if you respond quickly. When seeking the help of water damage restoration professionals, keep in mind that if your basement has flooded, it's likely other people are facing the same catastrophe. Act immediately to ensure the fastest service possible.
Lesson 4: Keep fans and a dehumidifier handy
Once the water is pumped out or mopped up, proper air circulation is essential to dry out your basement and prevent mold growth. Ventilating the area with extra fans will help tremendously with the drying process. A dehumidifier is also a good idea for reducing the amount of moisture in the air.
Lesson 5: Add flood prevention to your seasonal to-do list
A few simple checks can help prevent disaster from striking. Make it a priority to examine your pipes each season, particularly when heading into winter, and perform any necessary weatherization. It is also a good idea to monitor your rain gutters to make sure they are not getting clogged.
Other household inspections that can help avert water damage in your home:
– Check washing machine hoses regularly for bulging, cracking, fraying, and leaks around hose ends;
– Examine toilets and bathroom sinks for leaks or clogged drains;
– Periodically check under the kitchen sink for leaks where the dishwasher hose connects to the water supply;
– If your refrigerator has an icemaker, make sure the hose is securely attached to the water supply line.
Even if you follow these guidelines, there's no guarantee you will not find yourself facing a flooded cellar. But at least you'll have the knowledge that you've done everything you can to protect your belongings.
~ Nicole Krueger, 2009