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Fix-It Chick: Clean up a flooded basement

January 23, 2014

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Dealing with a flooded basement is often overwhelming, but following a few basic guidelines can help you avoid some potentially hazardous outcomes.

Step 1: Before you set foot into a flooded basement, make certain that the power is off. Use a stick or broom handle to shut the power off at the main electrical panel. If you have reason to suspect that a gas appliance may have been affected by the flood water, shut the gas supply off also.

Step 2: Once the electrical power has been shut off, don some rubber boots and head into the flood water to assess the damage. Turn the power on once all dangers have been addressed.

Step 3: Begin by ventilating the flooded area. Open all windows and hook up a commercial blower to circulate the air effectively.

Step 4: If the water is clear and no more than an inch deep, use a submersible pump or utility pump to remove the bulk of the water. The pump will not drain the water completely, but it will get it to a point where the remaining water can be mopped up or vacuumed up with a wet/dry vac. Do not leave the pump unattended, as it will need to be manually shut off once the water has reached its minimum level.

Step 5: Use a trash pump to remove unclean or debris-filled water. These powerful gas-powered pumps are designed to move large amounts of water and debris and are available for rent at your local rental store. If the water is more than 2 feet deep, pump the water out slowly, removing no more than a foot of water each day. Trash pumps should not be left unattended and should be shut off as soon as the water is down.

Step 6: Remove everything possible from the flooded space, including floor coverings and furniture. Dispose of anything that is not salvageable and allow everything else to dry in a well-ventilated space.

Step 7: Clean up any mud or debris from the basement walls and floors before it has a chance to dry.

Step 8: Thoroughly clean everything with warm, soapy water. Do not use ammonia-based cleaner.

Step 9: Once everything is clean, disinfect the entire area with a solution of 1 cup chlorine bleach to 1 gallon water.

Step 10: Keep the area well-ventilated until it is thoroughly dry.

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