10 Critical Steps When There’s Water in Your Basement

The Brainerd Lakes Area received record torrents of rain this week. Conservative estimations are from 7 to 10 inches, with areas nearby receiving more or less. In fact, cities all over Minnesota are facing flooding and the various issues that come along with it. One of the most common, unsurprisingly, is water in your basement. Water always seeks to go from high ground to low ground and unfortunately that can mean your lower level.

When that happens, do you know what you should do? Here are a few steps to consider as you work your way toward getting things back in order.

  1. Determine the Cause – This week’s rain would likely make most flooded basement issues fairly obvious. However, there are instances where it could be a plumbing leak, faulty water heater, or a frozen pipe. If you believe your basement’s flood is due to something internal, shut off your water main as soon as possible. Remember not to wade into standing water without the proper precautions. If water is coming in due to external sources, you may need to contact a contractor who understands how to waterproof a basement’s foundation.
  2. Call Your Insurance – Once you’re sure the water is under control to the best of your ability, call your insurance provider. They’ll walk you through the next steps you need to take to submit a claim. Be sure to follow their advice and the necessary steps they need you to take to process the claim. The quicker you comply, the quicker you will be able to get your basement back to working order.
  3. Pump Out Water ASAP – If your basement is partially flooded, you may be able to extract most of it with a wet-dry vac. Remember not to plug your vac into any submerged or wet outlets and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. If there’s too much water to pump out yourself, you may have to call a plumber or a specialist. Once the majority is gone, you may have to run a dehumidifier to help dry the areas out enough to start work.
  4. Clear Stuff Out – Remove any materials that might attract mold or rot first. Some items may be able to dry out and be saved, while others will have to be trashed. Organic materials such as fabric, paper, leather, and some woods will attract basement mold. Dry everything out as best you can, and trash the rest. Depending on the age of your home, the wood frame should be made of green-treat lumber and thus, reusable once dried. Your drywall may be selectively replaced rather than completely discarding the whole thing. If you’re unsure what needs to go, contact your contractor to have them walk you through it.
  5. Check Your Gutters – If your basement has flooded due to external factors, check to make sure your gutters and downspouts are working effectively. Ideally, they should be free and clear of leaves and other debris, as well as being sealed properly. Downspout extensions should be installed to protect the foundation from excessive hydrostatic pressure.
  6. Protect Your Plumbing – After a flood, check for other potential plumbing issues in the home. Replace old water heaters before the interior rusts out. Check the water supply for your well, and washing machine. Replace them if they show signs of cracking or excessive wear.
  7. Drain Tiles – Most newer homes will have drain tiles installed, but there are plenty of homes in the Brainerd Lakes Area that don’t have them. Drain tiles are placed around the foundation and meant to drain water from around and underneath your basement. They can vary in material, size, and shape, but they all do a great job at keeping your basement dry. Which is exactly what you want.
  8. Sump Pumps – If your home isn’t fitted with a sump pump, it may be time to invest in one. A sump pump will drain excess water out of the basement and away from the house. Many experts even recommend having a backup pump if you live near swampy, marshland areas. Plenty of which we have in our area. If you already have a sump pump, be sure to check it out regularly and do any routine maintenance necessary.
  9. Replace Windows – During wet weather, window wells can fill up with water and eventually cause basement windows to leak. This problem can be eliminated by utilizing regular maintenance, replacing windows when needed, and adding new window well covers when necessary.
  10. Call Your Contractor – While we’ve covered most of the obvious reasons why water can end up in your basement, there are plenty of other little nuances to consider. When in doubt, it’s always best to rely on a team you trust to get the job done right. A contractor can help pinpoint the exact cause, and find the best solution.

Special Safety Note: Remember, above all else, safety should always come first. Do not forget that a wet basement is a safety hazard and can mean danger. Electrical devices sitting in standing water can cause shock and even electrocution. Don’t touch wet electrical wires or devices. If you must walk into the water, wear knee-high rubber boots and exercise caution.


We’re Here to Help

If you’ve had water in your basement and are in need of repair after flooding, Baratto Brothers can help get it back on track. Contact us today by filling out our contact form, stopping in to say hello, or by giving us a call at (218) 692-1070. We’re here to help come up with an affordable plan to repair, remodel, or rebuild to your specifications. We’ll do all we can to become your Builder for Life.