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Flooded Basement? Do This to Clean and Remediate It

flooded basement leaky pipe

It is every homeowner’s worst nightmare - or one of them, anyway.

You walk downstairs and suddenly discover you are ankle-deep in water.

Is there any worse feeling than realizing you have an expensive, difficult, emergency home repair on your hands?

All the day’s plans go out the window. You are already overdue to take action.

There is just one tiny problem. You have no idea what to do.

Every year, homeowners across the continent tackle flooded basement cleanup and remediation for the very first time. You can do this. And this handy step-by-step guide will help you through it.

What NOT to Do First When Dealing With a Flooded Basement

There is one thing you will be tempted to do immediately, but that you need to put off: figuring out what caused the leak.

Believe it or not, this can wait.

What cannot wait is getting all that water out of your basement as soon as possible. The longer water or even moisture remains in your basement or crawl space, the greater the danger of it turning into mildew and mould.

After you have emptied, cleaned and dried out your basement, then you can work on identifying where the leak came from and what to do to prevent it from ever happening again.

What to Do Before Cleaning a Flooded Basement

The very first thing to do before you do anything else – and we do mean anything – is TURN OFF THE POWER.

As you probably remember learning as a child, bad things can happen when water and electricity meet.

Until you turn off the main power, there is a very real danger that you or someone else will get electrocuted.

A Flooded Basement Is Not Harmless: Protect Yourself!

Not only do homeowners get electrocuted each year by entering flooded basements where the electric power is still active, but many homeowners get infected with bacteria, fungi and mould while dealing with a flooded basement.

The best way to safeguard against this is to protect yourself with the right gear. For you and anyone else who will be working in the flooded basement, you’ll need:

  • Safety goggles

  • Face mask: N95 or N100

  • Long rubber gloves

  • High waterproof boots

  • Long pants and long sleeves

If you suspect mould has already set in or if the water is very deep (or both) you should resist the temptation to tackle the job yourself. Call in the pros. Professionals will have special bodysuits, masks and gear to stay safe while dealing with toxic mould cleanup.

Remove Water and Dehumidify Your Flooded Basement

In the right sort of conditions (like when you have a flooded basement), did you know that mildew and mould can form in just two days (48 hours)?


Getting any standing water out and dehumidifying your basement space are the vital first steps to guard against mould growth.

But this can be especially challenging if you have an electric sump system with no backup and you are also dealing with a power outage.

If you have access to a backup power source or standby generator, you can get your sump started removing the water or bring in a wet-dry vacuum to do the same.

You will also need to bring in a dehumidifier to suck out the excess moisture that could feed mould and mildew spores.

Clean Your Flooded Basement

Once you have removed the excess water and your dehumidifier is up and running, it is time to remove any belongings, supplies or furnishings that may be water damaged.

You can use natural sunlight to dry out belongings. In some cases, it may be possible to dry clean certain belongings such as clothing and small textiles.

Take photographs of everything for insurance purposes.

After clearing out everything inside your basement, you will need to give it a thorough cleaning. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) offers this excellent guide for remediating flooded spaces with minimal or no mould and mildew.

SAFETY NOTE: If mould is visible, do not tackle the cleanup yourself. Call professionals and get a mould evaluation first. If black mould is present this will always require professional remediation.

Once your basement is empty, you can continue with cleaning up the walls, ceilings and floors. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) offers this helpful guide for mixing up your own water and bleach solution to clean different surfaces.

Flood Prevention: How to Protect Your Basement From Flooding

Ask any homeowner who has ever had to tackle a basement remediation cleanup job whether they want to do it again, and they will say “never!”

There is a way to greatly reduce the risk you will ever have to go through a basement flood cleanup job again.

It starts by identifying how the water got into your basement in the first place.

Sometimes this is obvious, such as when a big storm comes through and your whole community floods. Sometimes it is less obvious and takes some sleuthing to detect the source of the leak – or leaks.

In the same way, prevention begins with a thorough risk assessment of your basement.

Cracks or fissures are identified and sealed. Structural instability in floors, walls and ceilings is repaired. Drainage and sump systems (including aboveground gutters and downspouts and grading) are repaired and upgraded. For any of this, you will likely need professional help. 

Once these tasks have been completed, you can waterproof your basement from the inside out. Affordable basement waterproofing typically takes just a day or less and lasts for decades.

Not surprisingly, many homeowners also discover their homeowner insurance premiums decrease after having their basement waterproofed.

Get in Touch

Are you ready for the peace of mind only affordable basement waterproofing can offer? We can help!

Contact us online or give us a call at 1-866-875-6664.

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