flood cleaning services

Basement Flooding Cleanup: What To Do if Your Basement Is Flooded

Floods can be overwhelming and damaging, especially when they target the lower levels of your home. As Wisconsin’s trusted water damage restoration and mold remediation service provider, Emergency Restoration Specialists (ERS) understands how critical a prompt and efficient response is. That’s why we created this basement flooding cleanup and repair guide.

Our advice after a flooded basement is to ensure safety first. Start removing important items from the basement as soon as it’s safe, allowing them to start drying and preventing potential mold growth. Then remove the water and dry out your basement. When in doubt, don’t hesitate to reach out to ERS. We’re here to help you navigate through the daunting process of basement flood cleanup.

Let’s dive deeper into what to do if your basement gets flooded.

1. Pinpoint the Water Source

The first and foremost step in addressing a basement flood is pinpointing the source of the water. It allows you to understand the nature and extent of the problem and how to deal with it.

If your basement is flooded because of inclement weather, like heavy rains or a rapidly melting snowfall, your primary concern should be the safety of everyone in your household. Unfortunately, in such scenarios, there’s no telling if and when the water will cease to rise, making an immediate evacuation of the property necessary. Be prepared to move your family to a safer location until the weather conditions improve, and it’s safe to return home.

On the other hand, if the flooding has resulted from a domestic issue like a malfunctioning appliance or a cracked pipe, you have a bit more control over the situation. In these instances,  halt further water inflow by turning off the water supply to your home. Locating and turning the water main off could save your basement from additional damage.

2. Contact Your Utility Company

When your basement experiences a significant flood, there’s a high likelihood that the water levels have reached and potentially submerged electrical outlets. Given the deadly combination of water and electricity, this can present a significant and dangerous risk. In this situation, disconnecting the power to your basement is not just a precautionary measure but an absolute necessity to ensure the safety of everyone involved in the cleanup process.

If the electrical circuit box is in the basement and the area is flooded, you should never attempt to wade through the water to cut the power yourself. Water is an excellent conductor of electricity, and attempting to cut power in such conditions can lead to serious injury or even prove fatal.

This is where your utility company comes into play. 

Reach out to them as soon as possible and explain the situation. They have professionals who are equipped and trained to handle such circumstances safely. Your utility company can dispatch a team to your home to safely disconnect the power, reducing the risk of electrical accidents.

3. Adopt Safety Measures

When dealing with a flooded basement, your safety should always be at the forefront. 

The cleanup process often involves navigating through water, which might contain harmful contaminants, bacteria, or other pathogens, especially if the water source is unknown or is potentially contaminated, such as sewage backups.

To keep yourself protected, always ensure that you’re wearing appropriate protective gear. This should include waterproof boots to protect your feet from possible sharp objects hidden under the water and to prevent direct contact with the contaminated water. 

Gloves are another essential item to protect your hands while handling potentially contaminated items or surfaces. In some situations where the water might contain harmful microorganisms, or there’s a risk of airborne pathogens, wearing a mask can help protect you from inhaling dangerous contaminants.

Always assume the water is unsanitary unless you can confidently verify it’s from a clean source, like a burst clean-water pipe. Even then, remember that the water might have mixed with other substances in the basement, rendering it potentially harmful.

Additionally, caution should be exercised while moving around in the flooded basement. The water might have obstacles, debris, or uneven surfaces that could cause you to trip, slip, or injure yourself. Move slowly and intentionally to prevent accidents.

If the flood is too extensive, it may be safer and more efficient to call in professionals, like Emergency Restoration Specialists, who have the necessary training and equipment to manage floods and water damage effectively and safely. Safety is paramount, so don’t put yourself in unnecessary danger. Your well-being is far more important than any belongings.

4. Remove the Water

Depending on the severity of the flooding, different methods of water removal will be appropriate. For minor flooding, simple household tools like mops, buckets, and wet/dry vacuum cleaners may suffice. 

Start by soaking up as much water as possible with mops and towels, emptying the water outside or down a drain. A wet/dry vacuum can be especially useful for removing water from carpets and hard-to-reach areas.

However, for more significant flooding situations, these methods can prove to be insufficient or time-consuming. In such cases, a more powerful approach, like a sump or pool pump, can be highly effective. These machines are designed to move large amounts of water quickly, making them ideal for dealing with extensive basement flooding.

If you have a foundation drain or sump pit in your basement, ensuring that these are clear and functioning correctly can greatly assist in removing water by providing a path to escape. If they are blocked, water removal can be a much more challenging task.

5. Boost Air Circulation

The key to effective drying after water removal is enhancing air circulation within the space. This can be achieved by a variety of means. If weather permits, open all windows and doors to allow fresh air to flow through the basement, which helps to carry moisture away. Setting up fans at various points in the basement to encourage air movement is another effective way to promote drying.

Dehumidifiers can also play a crucial role in moisture removal. By reducing the humidity levels in the space, they help to speed up the drying process and prevent the growth of mold and mildew, which thrive in damp conditions. Portable household dehumidifiers can be used for smaller areas, but larger, industrial-strength dehumidifiers may be needed in cases of significant flooding.

At ERS, our team brings along high-performance industrial-grade fans and dehumidifiers to ensure efficient drying. We strategically position this equipment to maximize air circulation and moisture removal, helping to dry out your basement as quickly as possible and reduce the likelihood of subsequent damage.

6. Take Out Wet Objects

Thorough drying of your basement also requires the removal of as many wet items as possible. This includes furniture, carpets, toys, stored items, and anything else submerged in or affected by the floodwater.

Some items, if removed quickly and dried out, may be salvageable. For example, solid wood or metal furniture can often be cleaned, dried, and restored. However, any items that absorb water, like upholstered furniture, carpets, and mattresses, may need to be discarded, particularly if they have been in contact with contaminated water. These items can harbor bacteria and mold, posing health risks.

In addition to removing these items from the basement, it’s also advisable to sort them into items to keep and discard. Keeping items should be thoroughly cleaned and dried. Those that cannot be salvaged should be disposed of properly.

7. Notify Your Insurance Provider

In the aftermath of a basement flood, it’s important to notify your insurance provider about the situation promptly. The sooner they’re informed, the quicker they can begin processing your claim. 

When reaching out, provide them with a detailed description of the incident and the extent of the damage. Depending on the specifics of your insurance policy, certain types of water damage may or may not be covered, so it’s essential to discuss these details with your provider.

It’s good to document the damage extensively to aid in the claims process. Take photographs of all affected areas and items, capturing the damage from multiple angles. This visual evidence can help provide a clear picture of the severity of the flood damage.

Along with photographs, make an inventory of all affected items. Include descriptions, approximate values, and the extent of damage for each item. This list will be invaluable when filing the reimbursement claim.

While you’re in contact with your insurance provider, also ask for any recommendations they might have for professional contractors. They often have preferred providers for water damage restoration, like ERS, and using these providers can sometimes expedite the claims process.

8. Sanitize the Basement

After the water has been removed and your basement is dry, it’s time for a thorough cleaning and sanitization. This crucial step helps prevent mold and mildew growth, which thrive in damp environments and can cause further damage to your home and health issues for your family.

Start by cleaning all hard surfaces, including floors and walls, using warm, soapy water. Pay special attention to corners, cracks, and crevices where dirt and moisture may accumulate. Rinse these surfaces well and dry them thoroughly.

Sanitization involves using a disinfectant solution, which can be a store-bought product or a homemade mixture of bleach and water. This helps to kill any remaining bacteria, mold spores, or other harmful microorganisms that might be present.

However, if certain materials have been wet for too long, they may need to be removed and replaced to ensure complete drying and sanitization. This can include flooring materials, insulation, and drywall. Dealing with these materials can be complicated and is often best left to professionals, who can assess the extent of the damage and determine the best course of action.

After the cleaning and sanitizing, keep the area well-ventilated for a few days to help any remaining moisture evaporate.

Final Thoughts

Our comprehensive guide outlined practical steps to navigate such an event efficiently and effectively. Remember, safety should always be the first consideration, followed by identifying the flood source, contacting utility companies, and taking necessary precautions. Water removal, increasing air circulation, and drying out objects are critical for damage control. Don’t forget to inform your insurance company and ensure the basement is thoroughly sanitized once it’s dried. 

At ERS, we stand ready to assist in your time of need, offering expertise and services to restore your basement to a safe and comfortable living space. Flooding is a daunting ordeal, but with careful execution of these steps and support from professionals like us, you can recover and even strengthen your resilience for the future. Contact us today for emergency flood damage restoration!


The foremost step after a basement flood is to dry the area completely. A swift and comprehensive drying process helps to minimize further damage and mold growth.

The best way to dry out a flooded basement is to act swiftly to curb potential wood rot and mold proliferation. Initiate the drying process by opening all windows and doors, facilitating a pathway for the moisture to escape. We recommend acquiring or renting a fan or dehumidifier to expedite the drying process.

While the term ‘flooded’ is often used colloquially to describe water-filled basements, it’s not always technically accurate. From an insurance perspective, a basement is considered truly flooded if it results from water surges due to a storm or heavy rainfall, rather than seepage.

Basement flooding can be the result of numerous factors. These can range from natural causes like heavy rainfall or rapid snow melting to artificial issues like improper grading, inadequate drainage, or malfunctioning sump pumps. Additionally, internal plumbing issues like burst or leaking pipes can also cause flooding in the basement.

The cost of cleaning up a flooded basement can vary significantly depending on the flood’s severity and source, the basement’s size, the type of water involved (clean, grey, or black water), and the amount of damage to the property and possessions. Always contact a flooded basement cleanup company near you, like ERS, for an accurate quote based on your specific circumstances.

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