Basement flooding is every homeowner’s worst nightmare. When you went to sleep everything seemed fine, but you woke up to discover your basement is covered in dirty water that is seeping into your belongings and damaging your home. Oh no!
Without a doubt, no one wants to have to deal with a flooded basement. But this stressful situation can be made so much worse when you have no idea what to do.
That’s why we put together this article so that when disaster strikes you know a few key steps to take to handle a basement flooding.
We’ve compiled our expert advice for preventing future floods and outlined when you should call the pros at Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Calgary.
What Should I Do if My Basement is Flooding?
The very first thing you should do if you’re dealing with basement flooding in your Calgary home is to ensure the safety of your family. At this point, it may be unclear where the water is coming from, and you don’t want your children to go into a basement full of sewage. Likewise, if the electricity in your home is still on no one should enter the flooding basement.
Shut Off Your Power
Once you have confirmed your loved ones are safe, it’s imperative to turn off your home’s electricity and gas. First, you will need to track down your circuit breaker. It could be in your garage, outside by your meter or in the basement.
If your circuit breaker is not located in your basement, shut off your power. However, if your circuit breaker is located in the basement then call your electricity provider to turn off your power remotely.
Act as Soon as Possible
Once your power has been turned off, it’s important to start acting against the flood right away—unless the flooding is due to rainfall, in which case you will need to wait until the rain has stopped.
We recommend calling the professional plumbers at Mr. Rooter Calgary to help. Our friendly and efficient staff is on-call 24/7 to assist with emergencies like flooding the basement. Our team can be reached at 403-640-7789.
However, there are a few steps you can take while our team is on its way.
Wear Boots and Gloves for Protection
Before you enter the basement, it is very important to wear the correct safety gear. Regardless of whether the basement is flooded with sewage or just water, you will need to protect yourself. We advise wearing rubber boots and cleaning gloves at the minimum. If the water in your home is higher than two feet, it’s safer to call a professional plumber instead of trying to handle the flood on your own.
Figure Out Where the Water is Coming From
It may be that a pipe has burst and is filling your home with water. If this is the case, turn off the water to your home immediately to stop the flooding. The main water shut-off valve is typically located in the basement or outside your home in a utility area. Turn the valve counterclockwise to cut off your water supply.
Check Your Floor Drain to Ensure it Has Not Become Clogged
Most Calgary homes have a floor drain—especially if you live in a flood zone. By checking the floor drain to ensure it’s not blocked by debris or household items, you will help the flood water drain out of your home.
Begin Removing Water from the Basement
You may want to wait until the expert team from Mr. Rooter Calgary arrives to remove the water from your flooding basement. However, if you feel comfortable beginning to rid the basement of water by yourself you may use the following methods:
- Sump pump: Your sump pump is meant to automatically begin pumping away water from your home in the event of a flood or if the water table in your home gets too high. If the basement has flooded and you have a sump pump, it’s likely that the sump pump has malfunctioned.
- Wet/dry vacuum: A wet/dry vacuum or shop vacuum works for clearing up a small amount of flooded water in your home. If you have more than a few inches of water in your home because of basement flooding, the shop vacuum will be less efficient because it’s too small.
- Utility pump: Utility pumps are portable pumps that can be used in the event that your sump pump fails.
- Mop and bucket: For very small amounts of water in your flooding basement, you can use a mop and bucket to clean up the excess water.
- Professional help: If you’re dealing with very serious basement flooding, then it’s best to call the experts at Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Calgary. We have the correct equipment and skillset to remove water and clean up the basement promptly.
Move Damaged Items Out of the Way
The best rule of thumb is to give items that have been damaged by a flooding basement 48 hours to dry. Move items like furniture and storage boxes to a dry, ventilated area to dry out properly. If after 48 hours your possessions are not completely dry, they likely will have to be thrown away. Additionally, do not keep wet cardboard boxes as they can be particularly susceptible to bacteria.
Do Not Touch Electrical Items Like Televisions, Stereos, or Lamps
There are items that should not be touched until after they have dried completely. Any electrical items should be left to dry in place so that you do not risk getting electrocuted.
Rip Up the Carpeting and Remove it as Soon as Possible
Wet carpeting is a breeding ground for bacteria and discoloration. If not promptly removed, your wet carpets will prevent the floor beneath it from drying out. You may be able to save your carpets and reinstall them after drying, however, it is most likely that you will need new flooring.
Allow Your Basement Up to a Week to Dry
Depending on the severity of basement flooding in your home, you may need to give your basement up to a week to dry out. Calgary tends not to have very humid weather, so this is beneficial in enabling your wet basement to dry quickly. However, since Calgary winters are so cold, depending on the time of year it may take a little longer for your basement to dry out. A few ways to speed along the drying process include:
- Opening windows: Fresh air—particularly in the summer—can do wonders for drying out your basement.
- Using fans: Circulating the air with fans in your basement will help wet areas dry more efficiently.
- Using a dehumidifier: While Calgary tends to be quite a dry climate, if your basement does not have very good ventilation you may need a dehumidifier to help it dry.
Remove Any Grime Left Behind
Even if the water flooding your basement was not sewage water, you will still need to clean your floors, walls and anything the flood water touched thoroughly. This helps prevent additional damage, bacterial growth and helps keep your basement clean and healthy for your family. The best way to clean your basement after it floods is by:
- Using soap and warm water. You don’t have to use anything special for cleaning areas that were affected by flood water. Rather, soap and warm water will be sufficient to clean up most damaged areas.
- Scrubbing any discolouration with bleach. If you spot any bacterial growth or discolouration, go over these areas with bleach. To be on the safe side, you may want to go over any of the areas you clean with soap and water with a diluted bleach solution—1/2 cup of bleach per gallon of water—to disinfect thoroughly.
Remove Wet or Damaged Drywall and Insulation
Damaged drywall and insulation can’t be salvaged. Unfortunately, flooding basement water is full of dirt and contaminants that could cause fungal or bacterial growth in the drywall and insulation. Additionally, once these materials are damaged they are less structurally intact and will weaken your home’s walls.
Call Your Insurance Company and Document the Damage
If you live within the flood zones in Calgary, you likely would have been required to get flood insurance. It’s very important that you call your insurance company as soon as your basement flooding emergency has been dealt with. Be sure to carefully take photos of any damaged items. Also, if the flood was caused by a faulty sump pump or broken pipe, be sure to document that as well.
Why is My Basement Flooding?
While no Calgarian will forget the devastating 2013 Alberta Floods, there are many other reasons aside from the Bow and Elbow rivers overflowing due to heavy rainfall that may cause your basement to flood. Some of these reasons include:
A Blocked or Broken Sewer Line
If your sewer line has a clog in it—often from tree roots growing in your sewer lateral—the wastewater will not be able to properly flow away from your house. This will cause waste to flow back into your home because it has nowhere else to go.
Water Supply Line Break
If your water supply line breaks, then water that is meant to stay within the plumbing system will cause basement flooding.
Hot Water Tank Failure
Generally, your hot water tank is located in your basement. If your hot water tank breaks, then the water will spill out into your basement.
The Sewer is Full
Sometimes a sewer backup is not caused by a clog from tree roots, but it’s too full and is not able to dispose of domestic waste properly. When this happens, the waste water moves back into your home because it can’t escape through the correct channels.
Your Sump Pump Failed
If your basement is built below a water table, you will have a sump pump. Its job is to pump water that leaks from the water table away from your home. If your sump pump fails, the water will not be moved out of your basement but will flood it instead.
How to Prevent Floods in the Future
While unforeseen disasters and accidents do happen, there are a few things you can do to prevent your home's basement flooding again:
- Consult the professionals at Mr. Rooter Calgary to complete thorough repairs and a waterproofing job for the basement.
- Regularly inspect your sewer lines for blockages and damage from roots.
- Clean out your drains every year. Our expert plumbing professionals offer thorough, non-invasive drain cleaning services that will help keep your home’s plumbing running smoothly.
- Inspect the basement's walls for cracks, weak spots, windows that are not installed correctly (as water could leak in) and signs of water damage. This will help you troubleshoot possible problem areas.
- Seal basement exterior openings, including window wells and vents. Proper sealing and waterproofing will help prevent your basement from flooding.
- Grade your landscape away from your home. Water travels downhill, so if you have the land around your home angled away from your house, water is less likely to pool at your home’s foundation.
- Extend your downspouts to five feet away from your home. This will prevent water from pooling at the base of your home.
- Clean out your gutters at least once a year. Water runoff from clogged gutters can degrade the structural foundation of your home.
- Regularly inspect your sump pump. Test your sump pump once a year to make sure it works correctly in the event of a flood.
When to Call the Professionals at Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Calgary
Our professional, respectful, and efficient team is on call 24/7 to help you with any emergency basement flooding. Additionally, if you are concerned about the state of your plumbing and sewer line and require an inspection to try to prevent future flooding, we are available to help with that too. Simply give us a call or request a job estimate online to start protecting your home from possible basement flooding.