What a difference a year makes!
In the spring and summer of 2012, Chicagoans were baking in the heat and suffering from an extended drought. Lawns dried up, soil cracked and plants and flowers shriveled. However, every homeowner enjoyed a dry basement.
In 2013, things couldn’t be more different. Spring was chilly and damp and summer took forever to get to Chicago. Heavy rains in the spring caused flooding all over the Chicago area: streets were closed, both storm and sanitary sewers backed up and all of Chicagoland was wet, wet, wet. Basements? You guessed it – flooded.
So, what does a homeowner do when he or she looks down the basement stairs and sees floating boxes and soggy carpets? Some of the answer will depend on the source of the flood – seepage or sewage – and on whether the basement is finished or unfinished. Some things, however, are basic to any flooded basement in Chicago.
When your Chicago Basement is Flooded: 5 Things to Do Right Away
No matter how or why your basement floods, here’s what to do:
- Turn Off the Electricity — As basic as this sounds, some people will forget to turn off the power as they start rescuing possessions from the water. As in any emergency, safety must be the first concern and, when there’s water all over the place, a homeowner’s safety may depend on eliminating the possibility of electrocution. Turn off all circuits that power the basement EXCEPT for the one that runs the sump pump. If lights or a wet vac are needed, run extension cords from upstairs and keep them out of the standing water.
- Save the Valuables – If seepage is the source of the flooding, a lot of belongings can be dried out and saved. Rescue the electronics and furniture first in a finished basement; stored valuables, power tools, etc. in an unfinished one. If the source is a sewer back-up, rugs and upholstered furniture are probably goners, but some things may still be salvageable.
- Clean Up the Water – Once safety is assured and belongings secured, start cleaning up the water. A floor squeegee works best to move standing water to a floor drain or sump basin; in its absence a broom does a decent job. A wet/dry vac is a great tool for getting water off the floor and can be easily emptied into a sump basin.
- Get Rid of the Soggy Stuff — Anything that is soaked in a sewer back-up should be tossed unless it can be cleaned and sanitized. Paper goods like books and cardboard boxes, even if soaked in clean water, likely can’t be saved. In a finished basement, flooring will be a judgment call: concrete or ceramic tile – probably fine; laminate or hardwood – probably trashed; carpet – salvageable if soaked with clean water but a goner in a sewer back-up.
- Run a Dehumidifier – Once the standing water is gone and the wet stuff cleared out, dry the basement out as soon as possible. Bring in a dehumidifier or fan. Open basement windows. Run heat or air-conditioning. The sooner the moisture is gone, the sooner the basement will be usable.
Wow! That was a lot of work but necessary if you want to act quickly to save your basement and its contents. Of course, it would have been nice if your basement had stayed dry during even the heaviest of storms, wouldn’t it? One way to avoid a repeat performance of your flooded Chicago basement is to have the problem assessed and repaired by a professional basement waterproofing contractor. At U.S. Waterproofing, we’ve helped thousands of Chicago homeowners avoid flooded basements since our founding in 1957. Why not ask for our free advice?