Any amount of water in a basement is cause for concern, especially given the speed in which black mold can spread if the moisture remains. And because of their location under ground and the fact that many of the home’s plumbing systems are housed in the basement, they’re usually the most prone to take on water.
If you’ve walked down to a wet basement, it’s always best to call a certified water damage restoration company to assess the damage and determine the best mitigation plan. We specialize in cleaning up flooded basements and have everything necessary to quickly, safely, and affordably restore your basement to its pre-loss condition. Whether it’s a small area isolated in one room of an unfinished basement or you have several inches of standing water in a finished basement, you should always have the situation assessed by certified professionals.
How We Clean up Flooded Basements
When we’re called to assess water damage in a basement, the first thing we must do is determine what areas have been soaked as well as the category of the loss. Depending on the likelihood of contamination in the water, some areas may have to be totally removed as they can not be properly dried and disinfected. That said, the following should give you a better idea for what the process entails:
Take moisture readings to determine extent of the damage
We use a variety of different equipment to know exactly what is wet and the extent of the moisture problem. What many homeowners fail to realize is that most of the water damage in their basement can not be seen nor felt. It takes specialized equipment to accurately determine the moisture levels so that we know where we’ll need to focus our drying efforts in later phases of the basement flood cleanup service. Whether it’s moisture probes that use low frequency radio waves to calculate moisture levels or advanced cameras that use infrared technology to peer into surfaces to determine if they’re wet, we have everything necessary to inspect every square inch of your basement so that no area is overlooked and results in black mold damage.
Remove soaked items and salvage dry items
In some cases we will be able to dry soaked items in place or at least at your home, while in other cases they will need to be packed out and sent to a warehouse to undergo proper drying in our facilities. If there are items that are dry but could get wet, we will move those to a safe area to ensure no further damage occurs to your household items. If the loss is a result of a sewage backup that has sent raw sewage and other waste into your home, please be aware that IICRC protocols require us to safely dispose of most items as they can not be saved and properly cleaned.
Extract surface level moisture & contain the damage
Once we’ve accurately determine the amount of damage and have removed any obstacles, we can begin extracting water from the basement. We use a variety of different basement water cleanup systems to pump out standing water and can usually have 95% of the moisture out of your property by using our water extraction systems. For wet carpets, we can use weighted extraction systems that allow us to soak up most water and on other surfaces we can employ water pumps that can dispose of dozens of gallons of water per minute.
Remove any surface areas that can not be saved
If there is carpet padding or insulated walls that have been soaked, we will need to remove them as they can not be dried. If you have drywall in your basement, this is known as a flood cut, but it essentially allows us to dry behind the walls. While it is certainly not our goal to tear out major sections of your basement, we must follow the proper procedures at all times to ensure the mitigation process is done correctly. As such, there may need to be some demolition in order to ensure we dry out your basement as fast as possible.
Apply anti-microbial spray
Before we can actually begin drying out the structure, we get it wet again. It sounds silly, but it is a very important step in the process because usually the time it takes to dry out the structure is longer than the time it takes black mold spores to grow. That’s why we spray a powerful anti-microbial solution on affected areas. It inhibits mold growth long enough for our drying equipment to do its job and remove the remaining moisture mold feeds on. We then come back through the area and vacuum up the excess solution so that we can begin the next phase.
Dry out the basement
By far the most crucial step when restoring a flooded basement is the drying process. Many people assume they can do the job themselves with a wet/dry vac and some fans, only to discover their walls begin to warp, the carpets begin to wreak, and black mold begins to appear. We use powerful air movers, dehumidifiers and other drying equipment to safely remove the remaining moisture trapped in your basement’s surface. On average, it takes around 3 days to fully dry out a wet basement although that can be longer based on the amount of moisture present.
Restore the area
The final step taken during the basement water damage cleanup process is making sure it looks like it did before the flooding occurred. We will either complete this ‘build-back’ phase ourselves or refer you to a licensed general contractor we work with to make sure all areas are fully restored and that you are 100% satisfied with the completed project. If the loss is filed under your insurance policy, we will work closely with your adjuster to ensure we’re returning your property to its pre-loss condition and that they fulfill their financial obligations in that regard.
Why Choose Us?
24/7 Emergency Service
We answer our phones 24/7 and can respond immediately and have our crew at your property within 60 minutes. When seconds count, call us!
Certified & Insured Technicians
Great service starts with skilled technicians. Our techs are fully certified in their field & always carry the proper insurance for your protection!
100% Customer Satisfaction
We are serious about providing the best restoration services in the industry and back all work with a 100% customer satisfaction guarantee!
Always Free Estimates
Just call and we will send out a crew to provide you with a complete on-site assessment and a free, no obligation cost estimate!
What questions should I ask a basement flood restoration company?
Whether you decide to go with us or another company, it’s important you feel comfortable with the provider you are hiring and the quality of service they’ll be providing. Picking the wrong company can create huge headaches and possible cost you thousands of dollars. Here’s some things we think you should ask any restoration company you’re considering hiring for such an important job:
How quickly can you get here?
Any water intrusion is an emergency. Why? A couple of reasons…First, a soaked structure can be dangerous and is at risk of collapsing. It’s not uncommon for ceilings to collapse or floors to give way. Second, water spreads every second. Whether it’s traveling across floors wicking up walls, the longer it sits un-contained, the more damage you’ll end up with and the more money and time it will cost to dry everything and fixed it.
While some companies advertise themselves as emergency basement flood restoration services, few can deliver on that promise. We always answer your call and we can immediately dispatch the closest on-call technician, arriving within 60 minutes and often much sooner! While the difference in an hour and the next day can be huge. Don’t wait around, get help now!
Are you insured & certified?
In the restoration industry, it’s vital that companies are insured and that their employees are certified by the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning & Restoration Certification. It’s a dangerous job, and allowing an un-insured technician on to your property is a recipe for disaster. Always make sure they carry the right insurance policies before allowing anyone to come into your home. And when it comes to actually providing competent basement water cleanup services and drying out your structure quickly, it’s just not possible without having studied the science of restoration services. If they aren’t IICRC-certified, we suggest you find another contractor.
Are your technicians drug-free & screened?
It’s not uncommon for water damage companies to perform no screening of employees. We’re not sure what you think about that, but to us it’s simply unacceptable. No one wants convicted criminals or strangers on drugs in their home, but that’s exactly what can happen if you hire a flooded basement cleanup company that doesn’t screen and drug-test their employees. We make sure every technician in your home has passed a thorough screening process and that they pass random drug tests. It’s the only to be sure the people coming into your home are people we would want in our own home.
Do you use Xactimate to quote the costs?
You might not be aware of this, but we all (should) use the same pricing guidelines. Because most of our work falls within an insurance claim, the insurance companies have actually decided what we can charge for any work we do. If we were to try and inflate our rates, it would put the claim in jeopardy. So to make sure we are using the right prices, we actually use the same estimating software that adjusters use. It’s called Xactimate, and if a company comes out and they are not using Xactimate you should thank them for their time and quickly call another company. Not using industry-standard pricing is a red flag that can put you at risk financially. Don’t let it happen to you!
Do you just do the mitigation or the reconstruction as well?
Most companies that you would consider to be water damage restoration companies are actually water mitigation companies. By that, we mean they do the drying of the property. If, during the course of the drying, areas have to removed, it’s usually another company that comes in and does the reconstruction work. It’s not necessarily a bad thing to have 2 different companies that have a specialty perform the work they are best at. Sometimes companies try to do both and they aren’t great at either. But make sure to ask if they are just going to the drying, will they refer you to a preferred general contractor they work with regularly?
Will My Insurance Pay for my Flooded Basement?
It’s an important question given the costs to fully restore a wet basement, especially if it’s finished. Ultimately you will want to read your policy to know what it covers specifically, but here’s some general information about the claim process you’ll want to consider:
What was the source of the water?
This is important because homeowners insurance does not cover any water damage that was a result of outside water entering your property. So for instance, if your basement is wet due to water seeping through your foundation walls after a heavy rain, your insurance company would not approve your claim.
However, if the water source was from a leaking water heater, or a pipe that froze and burst, or any other event where a plumbing system in your home malfunctioned and sent water into your basement, most likely your insurance company will cover your claim.
Was I negligent in maintaining my plumbing systems?
While it’s the case most losses are covered if the source of the water is internal, some adjusters will deny claims based on any evidence that the malfunctioning system was not properly maintained or that it had exceeded its useful shelf life. For instance, if the source of your flooded basement was a supply line to your washing machine, and it’s clear upon inspecting the hose that it was bubbled and warped and should have been replaced years ago, they may deny the claim. Another example is if your hot water heater was the source of the flooding, but it’s clear that it was corroded and was never properly maintained.
Most people can be a bit naive when dealing with their insurance company and simply assume that their adjuster will do the right thing and honor their commitment to you as a long-time customer. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case and many homeowners are left in a state of shock when their adjuster plays hardball and does everything within their power to lessen or eliminate their financial obligation. So what can you do to protect yourself from these unfortunate scenarios? Hire a reputable, certified basement flooding cleanup company that will advocate on your behalf with your adjuster. We have decades of experience working with adjusters and understand their motivations and language and can fight to ensure the best possible outcome for your water damage claim.
Understand the Risks: Black Mold
Basements are already prone to moisture. But when you have a flood, the risk of mold is near 100% if it’s not dealt with quickly and competently. Too many times, we’re called to a home weeks after they experienced flood damage. What usually happens is they try to get the water out themselves using a wet vac, and when they think they’ve got it all out they plug in as many fans as they can find, open up a few windows, and a few days later pat themselves on the back and call it a job well done. Sadly, they realize days or weeks later that their basement isn’t dry and now they have mold.
Black mold only needs about 36-48 hours of the right conditions to begin growing and spreading. While it exists naturally at safe and low levels in any environment, once excess moisture is introduced it takes off. It’s one reason why any competent basement water extraction company should also be trained in mold removal. Understanding the nature of the enemy allows us to better handle the situation before that enemy grows in strength. If you’re not properly trained in the science of structural drying and you don’t have access to the right equipment, the chances are good that you will only cause more problems and ultimately end up with a situation that is much more costly to fix.
That’s why we always encourage you to call us or another certified water damage company to at least assess your situation so that you are informed of the severity of the loss and understand your options!
What to do Immediately After You Discover Flooding in Your Basement
Many people simply do not understand the dangers inherent in flooding. Floods kill more people each year than any other natural disaster. And while most of the casualties are from rising waters drowning people stuck in their cars, even a flooded basement can be very dangerous. That said, your first move should always be to call a certified basement water damage company so that the loss can be contained as quickly as possible. We always discourage people from entering a flooded basement, but if you absolutely must do so, here are some things you should consider doing:
Cut the electricity to your home
Even an inch of standing water can create electrical hazards that can seriously injure or kill a person. Do not go into your basement until a licensed electrician, firefighter or technician from your local energy supplier has removed the meter from its socket, ensuring no electricity is being serviced into your home. Any mitigation company that arrives will ultimately need to restore electrical service in order to power their equipment, but they understand the dangers and can safely operate in this environment.
Wear protective gear
If outside water has entered your basement, it’s passed over and through the ground and is contaminated. If it’s from severe flooding, it can contain oil, gas, pollutants, and various chemicals. In severe cases, such as raw sewage in basements, the water can contain viruses and bacteria such as E-coli and Hepatitis-A. As such, contact with the skin, ingesting the water, or even breathing the contaminated air can cause sickness and in extreme cases death. If you absolutely must enter the area, please wear full-body protective gear including a face respirator and goggles to protect yourself.
Salvage any items at risk of getting wet
If there is furniture, boxes, or other items that have not gotten wet but could, and you can safely move them to higher ground, you may consider doing so.
Document the flood with pictures
Any restoration company you hire to handle the basement flooding repair service will be trained to take thousands of pictures throughout the entire project, but it’s not a bad idea to document the initial effects with your pictures. If you have a smart phone or camera, take as many photos as you can so that you can document the loss as it’s occurring. These photos may come in handy later should you be dealing with your insurance adjuster during the claim settlement.
What Can I do to Prevent Future Basement Floods?
Many times, some simple steps could have prevented the basement from flooding. While some steps can cheap and easy, others can be expensive and require professional help. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide what is worth doing, given the potential costs of cleaning up a flooded basement and the risks of it happening to you. To better understand your property’s risk, check to see if you live in a flood zone.
Outside the home
Here are some things you should consider doing outside of your home to decrease the chances of needing emergency basement water removal services in the future.
Make sure your gutters are working properly
Gutters are your first line of defense against a wet basement, but sadly too many people neglect them. If your gutters are not working properly, either because they leak or they are clogged, then the water cascading off of your roof is going to land directly next to your foundation. Given enough water, it will find its way into your basement. Make sure your gutters are working properly and that you have downspouts installed, and at least once every 3 months or so, get up on your roof and clean the gutters and make sure the downspout holes are not clogged.
Slope your lawn’s grade away from your foundation
This is another simple thing you can do that many people overlook. Water will collect and pool right next to your home’s foundation if the lawn is not sloped away from it. Many people dig flower beds next to their home, and unknowingly create the perfect spot for water to rest. And if enough water pools next to your home, it will eventually find its way through your concrete foundation and into your basement. Spend one weekend sloping your lawn’s grade away from your foundation…it could end up saving you thousands of dollars!
Install a backflow prevention device
Not all basement floods are a result of rain water coming through the foundation. In fact, many are caused when water comes back up the home’s sewage line and spills out into the basement through the shower drain, toilets, and any other outlet it can find. When this happens, it’s considered a black water category loss as it presents the greatest dangers to your health. So what can you do to prevent it? Install a sewer backflow valve.. It’s a device that is installed as the first fitting outside your home, in between the main stack exiting your home and your sewer line that connects to the city sewer system. The cost can range anywhere from $500 up to $1,500 depending on the complexity of the situation. While that might seem expensive, the average cost of a water mitigation job is just south of $3,000 and depending on how much damage is done, the cost can exceed $30,000. Again, you have to decide your risks and whether or not the cost of protecting your basement is worth the peace of mind it affords.
Install french drains
In some cases, a home will be situated next to an existing structure or hill, such that grading the slope of the lawn away from the house is impossible. In these instances, we recommend having a french drain installed along the side of your home. These drainage pipes are buried under the ground next to your foundation and collect and transport ground water away from your home and into the street. Without it, the water would simply pool along your foundation and eventually enter your basement. The average cost for having them professionally installed is around $25/linear foot, so by simply measuring the length of drainage you would need will give you some idea of the project’s total cost.
Inside the home
While there are plenty of things you can do outside of your home, there are additional barriers of protection you should consider inside your home to protect against basement flooding.
Install a sump pump
Despite all of the protective measures outside your home to keep ground water away from your foundation, there will be some water that collects around and under your home’s basement. That’s just the reality of burying a portion of a home above the natural water table of the area! So to deal with this reality, you’ll want to install a device called a sump pump. A sump pump resides in a catch basin installed under the floor of your basement, and it’s job is to pump out the water that collects in the basin. On average, the cost is just over $1,000 to have a sump pump professionally installed in your basement.
Have a backup power source
In the cases of severe floods, often times entire areas will lost power. While sump pumps have battery systems that will allow them to run for a period of time after power is lost, they can only go so far. Should the batteries run out before power is restored, your sump pump will stop working and your basement will flood. In order to make sure this doesn’t happen, consider having a generator installed as a backup power source so that you can ensure your sump pump will continue pumping water out of your basement for several hours after power is lost to your home.
Fix any cracks in your foundation
While it’s true water can travel through your basement walls even if there are no cracks, it becomes much easier with the presence of large cracks. These cracks can be seen by the untrained eye, and create the perfect highway for water to travel into your basement. In many cases, you can apply a sealer into the cracks using a caulk gun. The various sealer products can be purchased at your local hardware store and applying the sealer isn’t difficult. Of course, if you have serious foundation issues you might need to consult with professionals to fix the problem permanently!