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What do I do if my basement floods?

If your basement has flooded, there are some important things you should know.

Stay safe! Entering a wet basement could be hazardous.

Before you enter your basement, consider the following:

  • Electrical shock is a real risk!

When your basement is wet, there is a real risk of electrical shock. DO NOT enter your basement unless you are positive that you can do so safely. If it's safe to enter the basement, turn off your home's power at the main breaker switches.

  • Do you smell gas?

If you smell gas, you may have a gas leak. Leave the house immediately and contact Union Gas at 1-877-969-0999.

  • Is the water coming from a burst pipe in your home?

Is the water clean and flowing from an upper level? If so, you may have a burst water pipe. If you are safely able to do so, shut off the main incoming water valve to help minimize the damage. Always keep access to this shut-off valve clear and free of clutter.

  • Don't aggravate the problem

If the flooding is due to sewage backup, or you're not sure, DO NOT flush the toilet, run the washing machine or dishwasher, or run water down any drain, as this may increase the flooding.

  • Wear protective gear

Floodwater and sewage can contain bacteria that transmit disease. Wear protective gloves, safety glasses, disposable overalls, rubber boots and face masks to minimize contact. Thoroughly wash after any contact with sewage or items touched by sewage.

  • Ventilate the space

Try to limit your exposure to chemicals and contaminants, either from the flood waters or from the cleaning agents being used. When cleaning the space, be sure to ventilate well by opening windows, if the weather permits, or using fans and dehumidifiers to dry the area.

  • Look for structural damage

Under some conditions, a flood may weaken walls and ceilings. If you are concerned about the structural integrity of your house, leave the area and call in the experts.

Call a plumber immediately

Where there's water . . . there's the need for a licensed plumber.

Plumbers can conduct specialized tests or inspections to determine whether your water and sewer drainage systems are working properly.

Call your insurance company

Your insurance company will advise you on standard clean-up procedures, contractors and property restoration companies that can assist, the scope of your insurance coverage and deductibles, and the claim procedure.

Be sure to take lots of photos and document items that have been damaged or need to be replaced. Keep receipts for all emergency work done, purchases and repairs, as you may be covered for these expenses.

Your insurer may look favourably on homeowners who undertake work to reduce the likelihood of future flooding. Repeat claims with no efforts to reduce future risk may jeopardize your ability to get flood coverage in the future. Visit How can I best protect my home? for practical suggestions.

Report the flood or backup to the Town of Essex

Let the Town of Essex know that flooding has occurred. Documentation on flood locations helps municipal staff to identify solutions for flood risk reduction and determine if inspections and maintenance are required on the municipal infrastructure.

Call us at 519-776-7336 during office hours and after hours.

Start the clean-up

As soon as you can safely enter your basement, the clean-up should begin.

  • Remove your belongings from the flood zone. The quicker items are removed, the better chance you have of avoiding rot, mildew, moulds and warping.
  • Eliminate excess water using rags, towels and a wet/dry shop vacuum. Set up one or more de-humidifiers and empty them on a regular basis.
  • Remove rugs or roll them away from the wet area. Most forms of flooring that was exposed to water will need to be removed and possibly discarded, including wood flooring, laminate, vinyl, and underlayers. Carpets that can be salvaged may need to be professionally cleaned and dried.
  • Dry and disinfect all stationary features, including the foundation floor, walls, baseboards and furnace.
  • Keep an itemized list of what has to be thrown out. Take photos of each item, showing the damage. Some items can be placed at the road for regular garbage pick-up, but large loads may require a dumpster or trips to the dump.
  • Salvaged furniture may need to be professionally cleaned and dried.

Protect your home in future

Before you start refinishing your basement, consider whether you need to do any extra work to protect your home from flooding in the future. View How can I best protect my home? before you begin any refinishing project.