Whether you live in a flood zone or not, all areas in the United States are susceptible to flooding. Water can enter your basement from heavy storms, through cracks in the wall or floor, through windows and doors, and from sewer backups and burst pipes. In fact, the American Society of Home Inspectors reports that 60% of homes suffer from below-ground wetness. However, it’s also estimated that more than 90% of all water damage can be prevented if you have the right measures in place.
To help prevent basement flooding and mitigate damage, here are 6 simple steps you can take as a homeowner.
Step 1: Clean Your Gutters & Extend Downspouts
To prevent storm water from saturating the ground around your foundation, where it can lead to basement flooding, keep your gutters clear of leaves and debris, and point downspouts away from the foundation. Ideally, you want the water to drain at least three feet away, so consider using downspout extensions or troughs to direct water to an area of your lawn that slopes away from the house.
Step 2: Seal Cracks in the Foundation
By regularly inspecting the exterior foundation and your interior basement walls and floors, you can prevent basement flooding before it happens. Seal cracks and openings with caulk or epoxy, and apply weather stripping or masonry sealer on the interior. If gaps keep reappearing or seem more severe, you may need to call a professional contractor.
Step 3: Be Smart About Landscaping
Your lawn should slope away from your home, so that storm water runs away from your foundation. If that’s not the case, consider digging a drainage swale, or using beds of heavy mulch around the perimeter of your home. Just be sure to leave at least a six-inch gap between the bed and the foundation. You should also avoid planting too close to the house, as roots can crack concrete and restrict drainage.
Step 4: Use Window Well Covers
If you have below-grade basement windows, fastening window well covers to your home’s foundation can provide added waterproofing at a relatively low cost. Not only do these covers keep rain and leaves away from the window, but they also deter pests from entering your basement. And you can still allow light to enter by using clear acrylic covers.
Step 5: Inspect Sewers & Clean Septic Systems
To prevent sewer backups, have your sewer lines inspected or your septic tank cleaned regularly. If your sewer is less than 10 years old, a yearly inspection is sufficient. For older sewers, an inspection and cleaning every six months is better. Household septic tanks should be inspected every three years by a professional, and pumped every three to five years.
Step 6: Install & Maintain a Sump Pump
While a bit more costly than the above solutions, a sump pump is worth the expense, particularly if you live in an area plagued by frequent storms and flooding. It essentially works like a big floor drain, sucking water out of your foundation and basement. Check to make sure the well remains free of debris, and if you opt for a portable pump, be sure it’s positioned at the lowest part of the basement and plugged in. You may also want to invest in a battery-backup pump, or generator, in the event of a power outage.
What to Do if Your Basement Floods
Despite the best prevention methods, basement flooding can still happen. The first step is to remove the water. If you don’t have a sump pump, you can usually rent one from a local home improvement store. Then, you need to dry things out. Open windows and doors for ventilation, and use fans to decrease the possibility of mold growth. Throw out porous items, such as paper and cardboard boxes, which can harbor mold. Carpet will need to be removed, as well, unless it can be dried out quickly. If you’re unsure, you can purchase a mold test kit. Water damaged dry wall will also need to be cut out and replaced. Want to learn more? Check out our Water Damage Dos & Don’ts.
When to Call a Water Damage Professional
Water damage restoration is a lot of work. If you have more than a few inches of water, we recommend calling a professional. We have more powerful equipment and can get the job done quickly. For water damage restoration and 24/7 emergency flood response in Albany NY, the surrounding Capital Region, western Vermont and Massachusetts, call CleanBright Surface Restoration at (518) 608-6242.
Helpful information and handy tricks to prevent water damage and mold in your home.