Basements are natural targets for water damaged, due in no small part to the fact that they are the single lowest lying area of any home, coupled with the fact that water loves to run downhill. 98% of all basements will suffer from water damage at some point in their existence. If you have a basement, it becomes a matter of when, not if, it will be your turn in the water damage barrel.
Of course, the best defense against water damage is a good offense. Take the time to inspect your basement for possible problems, such as cracks in the foundation wall, broken window seals or bad weather stripping, basically anything that will allow access to your home by groundwater. It’s normally a good idea to install a drain of some sort in your basement if possible, it will help remove the excess water and prevent a large unmanageable build up of water.
You should also inspect the exterior of your home, making sure all gutters and downspouts are unclogged and channeling water in the proper direction, away from your home. You want to have water kept away from your foundations. Likewise, the landscaping around your property should slope away from the structure for a distance of no less than ten feet. One the ground is saturated in a storm, you want the excess water to run in the right direction. You could also look into installing a storm drain around the perimeter of your home to drain any water away from your foundations before it can find it’s way into your basement.
If you find water damage in your basement, the cure is much the same for other water damage scenarios. Firstly, locate the source of the water and shut it off, block it, dam it up, whatever it takes to prevent more from coming in. Water removal does no good if it is just going to be replaced with more. It becomes a little more complicated when dealing with sewage water since everything porous or semi-porous needs to be thrown out and replaced. There is just no way to guarantee that porous items have been completely sanatized.
You should also remove all loose items from the flooded area. Since basements are often used for storage, be prepared to deal with a lot of damaged cardboard boxes and wet paper products. Furniture or valuables should be removed elsewhere for drying and repair. Electrical appliances should not be used until they have been checked out by a qualified electrician. Also, all utilities should be shut off at the source to prevent an accidental electrocution or sparked fire.
The excess water will need to be removed from the basement. Depending on the depth and severity of the spill, either a shop vacuum or gas powered submersible pump should be used. Electrical pumps are out of the question, for obvious reasons. One word of caution: standing water in basements should be pumped out slowly, on the order of about a third a day. Any faster could result in unequal pressure, putting undue stress on the walls and making them prone to collapse. Slowly but steady is recommended, especially in cases where the depth exceeds several feet.
Once the excess water is out, use fans, blowers, and other air movers to get the air circulating and speed up the drying process. The more units, the better. Dehumidifiers are also highly recommended to bring down the humidity level. Basements are naturally quite humid, and any elevation in those levels increases the chance for mold growth and other secondary damage.
For the best results with your basement flooding issues, contact your local IICRC certified water damage restoration professional. They have the training, experience, and tools to handle even the largest water damage problems.