Causes of a Wet Basement and How to Clean a Flooded Basement

The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) conducted a home improvement study. It reveals an estimate of 60% of homes have experienced or will experience a wet basement.

Sure, a basement is underground. It is no surprise to say it is the one area susceptible to flooding due to common entry points of water (Renew Services Group, November 2014). These entry points are the following:

Top of the Walls

The ideal direction of rainwater should be away from your house. However, there’s a high probability of top wall leaking if the ground is either near level or slanting into the house.

Vulcan Basement Waterproofing can easily solve this and other issues regardless of your landscaping.

Window Wells

Window wells are practical and decorative. Their purpose is to keep soil and water away from your window. It can’t however, do its job when the drainage system isn’t working properly.

Basement Wall Cracks

Underground pressure results in basement wall cracks. Rainwater flows downhill, possibly from your driveway into your lawn then towards your home and finally to the basement walls.

Pressure builds up and pushes the water against the wall until cracks begin to appear. If you have a cinder block foundation this water can be inside those blocks without you even knowing it.

See our video on the “Videos” page where we open up some cinder blocks and find standing water that is slowly ruining the foundation from the inside out!

It’s the third from the top – http://vulcanwaterproofing.com/videos/

Honeycombs

A honeycomb refers to air pockets. It may or may not cause a leak when the mixture of concrete is done poorly but may not be seen until it is too late.

Sewer Pipes

Pipe leaks in the sewer system are sometimes hidden. These leaks are only noticeable when the system carries waste water and it leaks somewhere in your basement. When that happens, it results in mold or a wet basement.

Mortar Joints

Basement walls that are made of blocks, bricks, stones or wood sometimes use mortar to hold each block in place. The mortar deteriorates over time. Water then enters inside and makes its way into the basement through the open joints between the top walls.

Water Pipe Conduits

A hole is drilled through the wall when a water line is installed. This hole is sealed with a water plug; however, a void is already created between the openings.

Leaks can start to appear where water is collected.

Basement Floor Cracks

Hydrostatic pressure causes the basement floor to crack. This results in serious structural problems, especially when the cracks are horizontal.

Sump Pump

A sump pump helps a basement stay dry and protects the entire area from unexpected flooding.

However, the following can result in sump pump malfunction: power failure, improper installation, lack of regular maintenance, switch problems and frozen discharge lines.

Vulcan Waterproofing can check or replace your sump pump and save you thousands in emergency repairs and damages.

Floor Drains

If there is a clog in the water systems, water will begin to rise and will travel through the sink drains and basement floor drains.

A Plugged Drain Tile

The drain tile is harder to break when it’s made of perforated plastic piping wrapped in a cloth sock. It results to failure; however, when it is made from clay rocks wrapped in felt roofing paper.

Steps to Cleaning A Flooded Basement

Before covering the recommended list of activities, it’s helpful to understand why basement flooding occurs. There are many reasons why basement flooding happens, some even during dry weather.

The number one reason is a blocked sanitary lateral. Sanitary lateral is a basement feature located in the sewer system. The system collapses if there’s a tree root penetration, clogged toilet bowl and/or lack of regular maintenance.

A failure in the foundation drainage also causes flooding. It fails to operate if any of the following occurs: imbalanced level of ground water, clogged sewer system or sump pump malfunction

Flooding is more common during wet weather of course. Storm water might flow inside the basement when there’s a storm or fast thaw. Improper grading can cause water to travel inside the basement window wells.

Other primary reasons of flooding during wet seasons are (but not limited to): Drainage failure, a rising water table, sump pump failure, blocked sewers, flow restrictions and weeping tile malfunction.

In the event of a flood, better start the cleaning process with your family, friends or hired professionals (Flood Safety, July 2005).

The first step is to call Vulcan Waterproofing and let them assess why the flooding occurred… and cleanup steps can be found below.

Below are the steps in order:

  1. Relax. Relax.

To panic means losing control. The reality is flooding is a stressful expensive problem. There’s no need to deny it. However; it’s not the end of the world.

Take a deep breath and remind yourself there’s something you can do about the situation.

  1. Call the insurance company

Pick up the phone and talk to your insurance agent. The agent can help you with the legal paperwork such as insurance claims, applications for disaster assistance and income tax deductions.

  1. Switch off the power

For your safety, the main switch for electricity must remain off. Better use a rechargeable lamp if your basement is dark.

  1. Save what you can

Take a good look around the basement. Wet but not broken furniture, bedding and clothing are worth saving. Take these items outside to dry.

Mattresses, electronics and papers may best be thrown away immediately. Use judgment.

  1. Remove mud first

Begin by shoveling out the mud. The mud is contaminated; therefore, wear protective clothing such as a comfortable shirt, jeans, glasses, gloves and rubber shoes.

  1. Disinfect

First, scrub the hard surfaces with hot water. Then, add ¼ cup of bleach per gallon of water to begin disinfecting the walls and floor.

  1. Clean and dry

After disinfecting, the area should be dry. If you haven’t done it already, call Vulcan Basement Waterproofing to come and make sure it never happens again!

They can install a new sump pump, French drain, dehumidifier or do whatever is needed.

  1. There’s still more!

Go outside the house and examine the downspouts. Does they need extensions?

Go around the house and observe the condition of the soil. Does it need proper grading?

Always remember: Flooding is the number one natural disaster in America. It happens in winter and even in dry seasons. Vulcan Basement Waterproofing protects your house from this expected or unexpected disaster.

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Get Your Free Basement Waterproofing "Do It Yourself" Guide!

And learn to diagnose your problem like a pro... compliments of Vulcan Waterproofing! Just tell us where to send it.

Vulcan is the Nation's Oldest Basement Waterproofing Company