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Pumping Out a Flooded Basement

How a Flooded Basement Can Damage Your Home

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Water damaged basement Significant flooding
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Pumping the water out of a flooded basement is one of the first tasks most people undertake once a flood devastates their home. A basement full of water is a structural and environmental hazard. Depending on the amount of water in the basement, the structure of your home could be in danger.

One example of the intense damage caused by flooding was during the Red River floods in 2009. Residents in Minnesota and North Dakota worked frantically around the clock to prevent flood waters from invading their homes. Unfortunately, many homes were damaged as a result of the flooding. Basement flooding was almost a 'given'.

Several key points need to be remembered when pumping out a flooded basement. If you follow these key points, you can prevent a cellar wall collapse or other structural damage to your home.

  • Water must be pumped out slowly.
  • Pumping the water out of a flooded structure can cause a wall collapse. As the water sits in your basement, it can caused increased pressure on the interior walls of your home.

  • Water on the outside of the house is just as dangerous.
  • Even as most of the flood waters recede, the ground can still be fully saturated. The increased pressure on the outside of the walls can cause a collapse or cracking if the pressures become uneven from premature pumping.

  • Pump water out a foot at a time.
  • Basements should be pumped out at about one foot per day. The water level in the basement should be marked before and after removal. Wait overnight and re-check the water levels to be sure no more water is seeping in. More water seeping in means the ground behind the basement walls is still flooded.

  • Never enter a flooded basement without checking the electricity.
  • Be sure the main circuit breakers for your house are shut off before entering a flooded home. Electrocution can happen with only minimal flood damage.

  • Disinfectant is your friend.
  • A major problem after any kind of flooding is mold and mildew. Mold can creep into small spaces and must be removed before it can spread. Damp, dark basements are a breeding ground for molds to grow. In addition, flood waters contain a myriad of bacteria. Always clean the basement from top to bottom with a strong disinfectant. Be sure to keep the area ventilated while you work. Also, remember never to mix cleaners such as bleach and ammonia.

  • Where you pump the discharged water makes a difference.
  • Water removed from a structure needs to be discharged in to a location at least several feet from your home. Regardless of weather you have public sewage or a septic tank, never pump the water into the sewage system. An overload on the system could cause the sewage to back up.

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