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Basement Flooding: What To Do & How To Prevent It

prevent basement flooding new york

Basement floods are a lot like fingerprints: no two are quite the same, since they are created by the conditions specific to your home and property. But there are common causes for basement floods that make diagnosing and preventing them a little less of a mystery.

Typically, a basement flood is the result of excess water pressure in the soil surrounding your foundation; the cause of that pressure is usually intense, saturating rainfall or a concentration of water directed at the base of your house from gutters and downspouts. Improper window installation can also lead to flooding.

Over time, that water pressure will cause cracks in your home’s foundation, walls and floors, which could lead to ongoing water and flooding problems. The question is how do you prevent these problems, and what do you do if you have a basement flood? Here are some tips.

Preventing basement flooding

Flood prevention starts with taking care of home plumbing basics and a having a fundamental understanding of the mechanics of your Sullivan County home. Here are some steps to take if your basement is prone to flooding.

  • Be proactiveHire a professional plumber before disaster strikes! A plumbing expert can identify flood risks and problem areas in your home by performing a complete inspection of your drainage and plumbing systems, as well as your property. Be sure your inspection includes your drainage system to determine if your piping is adequate and working as well as it can be; regular sewer snake outs may be necessary if you have frequent basement floods.
  • Know your responsibilities – As a homeowner, you’re responsible for your household plumbing (and what you put into it), along with pipeline connections up to your property line; your municipality is responsible for what occurs between your properly line and the sewer main. Gather contact information for your municipality before a major storm event to have it ready when you need it.
  • Watch for and seal foundation cracks – Seal minor cracks from inside your basement; for more substantial exterior cracks, hire a professional contractor to make an assessment.
  • Check walls and floors regularly – Over time, water problems can cause structural problems to walls and floors, which increase flooding risks. Look for signs of water damage and deal with them quickly.
  • Maintain gutters and downspouts – Efficient roof drainage is key to managing flooding risks in your home. Clogs, cracks caused by freezing water, and other issues with roof drainage systems can speed runoff and cause pooling that could lead to sewer back-ups and water problems inside your house. Allow water to discharge as far away from your foundation as possible; consider downspout extensions, and always discharge water to splash pads or grassy areas of your property rather than your sanitary system.
  • Keep street catch basins clear – Street catch basins and storm sewer grates drain water into the storm sewer; if these basins get blocked, they can cause big problems. Be sure to keep them clear, particular during the fall and winter, when debris can gather quickly.
  • Know what’s covered – Review your homeowner policy to determine what’s covered during a flood and what’s not. In many cases, home insurance will not cover floods that occur from surface or ground water that enters your basement through cracks in your foundation walls or floors – another reason to take care of the problems quickly!
  • Make lifestyle adjustments – Adjust your water use behaviors, especially during heavy rainfalls. For example,
    • Avoid high water volume activities during a storm (running your dishwasher, washing machine, etc.)
    • Avoid pouring grease down your drain – Fats, oils, and grease cause sewage backup. These materials eventually cool, solidify, and accumulate in your piping system, or the sewer main.
    • Use toilets properly – TP only!

If you have a basement flood

What if the worst happens and you have a basement flood? Take these steps.

  • Don’t panic – Floods happen (to paraphrase a famous saying); when they do, remain calm and work diligently, but calmly.
  • Contact your municipal water department –  It’s important to report your flood to your local government: the more reports filed in your area, the more resources may be allocated to understanding and fixing problems.
  • Contact your plumberContact your plumber to make sure all your plumbing systems are operating correctly.
  • Be ready to clean and disinfect – Always cover hands, eyes, and feet during flood cleanup, since sewer drains can contain toxic contaminants. Mix eight tablespoons of liquid chlorine bleach with one gallon of water to disinfect all surfaces that have come in contact with flood water.
  • Throw out questionable items – Photograph ruined items for insurance claims purposes, but don’t risk your safety by keeping them in your home.
  • Remove damaged drywall – To minimize the possibility of mold growth, remove all flooded drywall within 24 hours of the flood.
  • NEVER touch electrical items in standing water – Safety first, as always!

Inspect your home to prevent basement flooding – contact Black Bear today to learn more about professional plumbing services in Sullivan County, NY!