Preparing Your Basement for a Flood

Written by Tara Neves, The Restoration Doctor Operations Manager

Flooded Basement

First off, there is no way to fully prepare your basement, or home for that matter, for a flood or any other type of emergency. When it rains, it literally pours and you have your finances, belongings, and stress levels to worry about—we’re not only here to help you through any type of property emergency, but we’re also here to help you along and try to prevent this from happening (or happening again). 

On average, a home will have water damage at least every 50 years. If you’re one of the lucky few, you will never experience any water or fire damage to your home. If you’re like most of us, you more than likely will in the timeline of you living at your home experience a flood or fire.  For the sake of this newsletter, I will focus on basement flooding.  Generally, you will ask yourself a few questions. What can I do to prevent a flood in my basement? What kind of flooring can I have down in my basement?

There are a few things that can help prevent a flood in your basement. If you have a sump pump, plumbers generally recommend it be replaced every three years. Also, it would help to keep a back-up sump pump attachment. Keep in mind, when the power goes out, you may want a battery-powered option to keep your basement from flooding when the sump pump goes out. At my house, we’ve got an Insteon Leak Sensor that I stationed right next to my sump pump. In the event of elevated moisture, it sends a signal to my phone and e-mail, which may prevent additional damage if I am nearby. This has worked for me in the past and I highly suggest investing in some kind of an awareness system to let you know if there is high moisture in your basement. Plumbers I have spoken with also suggest having your basement drains snaked once or twice a year, regularly, to clear out any possible roots or items that may cause a back-up in your basement. Speak with your friendly neighborhood plumber and ask their suggestions on what you could do to help prevent a back-up.

Now, my favorite question…what type of flooring should I keep? My favorite answer? None! An unfinished basement is the easiest and most cost-efficient to clean and sanitize in the event of a flooded basement. However, most people keep their basement as a second living space, storage zone or bedroom for additional family members. Sometimes an unfinished basement just will not work for your circumstances!  Glue-down carpeting is generally the safest bet when it comes to flooring in your basement. If you have a storm drain back-up, it can be as simple as extract and dry. With padding, padding typically needs to be removed when it gets saturated (not all cases). Laminate flooring buckles when it gets wet, and is typically damaged beyond saving by the time the water is recognized. Waterproof vinyl is newer to the market and we have been seeing great results with the vinyl being able to maintain the moisture without damaging the flooring too much.  At the end of the day, it will come down to personal preference and what you truly want for the look of your basement.  No type of flooring can guarantee you’ll be “okay” in the event of a flood; some may end up saving you money if your basement were to take on large amounts of water.  Keep in mind, in the event of a sewer back-up, it will not matter what type of flooring you have or do not have when dealing with sewage cleanup, IICRC industry standard guidelines state we must remove these affected materials to eliminate any harmful contaminants which may be present.

Always remember to elevate your important contents and keep proper insurance coverage in case of a back-up in your home. Speak with your local insurance agent to ensure you are properly covered in the event of an emergency. Always remember, being prepared is key and keeping a dedicated and honest contractor in your back pocket is extremely helpful! Best wishes!