Flooding in basements can be a problem. Basements are primarily used for storage and are often left unattended for days. This gives water an opportunity to get in and go unnoticed for stretches of time. It’s during this time that many possessions are getting damaged by water.
Basements can flood for many reasons. Water can enter through cracks in basement walls. This happens most often when there are high amounts of water seeping into the ground outside during periods of raining and snow melting.
There are home improvements that can be made to the outside of the house, such as replacing or adding gutters to draw the rain away from the basement. Some may want to consider options such as sump pumps or other products that can be used to seal off any potential problem areas. Getting professional help for the situation is also an option.
To prevent leakage from the inside you may want to consider painting the basement with paints that have a sealant in them. They should be labeled as such but feel free to ask for assistance.
Another good step in avoiding problems is to start tracking water patterns in your basement. If it floods frequently, notice where. Try to avoid storing things in these areas. Also check the incline of your floors. Basements can often be uneven so store things at higher points since the water will flow down to the lower parts of the floor and often the incline is made to work with a drain.
If there is a basement drain you should check your drainage path as well. Most basements have drains for excess water, washing machines and several other reasons. Keep an open path from your water problem spots to the drain. You’ll want the water to have the chance to flow to the drain and anything in its path might get damaged.
Remember that drains can back up due to sewage problems or overwhelming use, so be cautious about storing things near them.
The next step is to get your stuff off the floor. Using shelves or pallets can get your belongings out of harms way. Keep an eye out for how high the water can get. Often the water levels are low but it’s important to get shelves that will keep items above the water level. If flooding is a problem in the laundry area, consider placing the washer and dryer on pallets to prevent the bottoms from rusting out.
You may also want to try storing items in plastic tubs rather than boxes. Cardboard allows water to soak through to the items inside. Even if you aren’t worried about the items inside, wet boxes can grow mold. Buying tubs to store your possessions can become costly but it’s also something that can be done gradually.
Something else to keep in mind is that the extra moisture in your basement can make it easy for mold to grow. Mold is unpleasant and unhealthy but small amounts can be cleaned with a mixture of bleach and water. Make sure the area is well ventilated when cleaning mold.
You may also want to consider that keeping a dehumidifier can help remove moisture from the air. Too much moisture in the air can damage some materials and a dehumidifier can help prevent moisture from damaging items such as paper products.
Remember to empty them frequently if they are not set up to drain themselves.
During times of potential flooding keep an eye on your basement. If you are able to catch water before it becomes a problem you can keep it under control. A shop vacuum that can remove water is a good tool for keeping a little water from becoming a lot of water. It will also come in handy cleaning the basement if the water is out of control.
Even the best plans can fail. If items do get wet, remove them from their boxes and dry them as quickly as possible for minimal damage.
The most important thing to remember about basement flooding is electricity. If a basement is suddenly flooding unplug all items if it is safe to do. Most basements have high electrical outlets but if a plugged in appliance is submerged in water do not go near the water. Even if you are slightly unsure about your safety, call for help.