Not all homes in Portland and throughout Oregon have basements. For those buildings, basement flooding is not an issue. Houses that were built before the 1940s, however, typically have basements. Since some of these buildings were constructed decades ago, knowing what to do when your basement floods is critical to avoiding expensive damage.
We prepared an emergency guide to basement flooding to help protect your property:
Basement Flooding Safety Tips
A flooded basement can be dangerous. Follow these steps first before you even think about draining and cleaning the area.
Turn Off the Power to the Basement First
Before setting foot in a flooded basement, make sure to cut the power to that part of the house. Submerged appliances and power outlets could cause electrocution, so this is the first step you need to take for your safety.
If your circuit breaker is down there and you can’t get to it, either call your local utility company or an electrician, and they can do this for you safely.
Turn Off Your Gas if the Pilot Light Is in the Basement
If floodwaters put out the pilot light for your gas system, gas will build up in that area. This poses a serious health risk since breathing in propane can lead to asphyxiation and even cause an explosion. Turn off your gas right away if your pilot light is located in your basement.
Stay Out of the Water if It Smells Contaminated
If you think there is sewerage in the floodwater, or if the water has an odor, contact professionals who can handle the problem safely. Coming into contact with contaminated water poses many health risks, so it might be necessary to take your family out of the house while the professionals do their work.
Wear Protective Equipment if You Do Go In
You don’t know what the water contains, so wear protective equipment such as gloves, a face mask, and waterproof clothing before venturing into the flooded area.
Removing the Water
With the area safe to enter, you will first want to drain all of the water out. If you don’t already have a water pump on-site, it can be expensive to buy. It’s quicker and more cost-effective to hire a plumber who can bring their own.
Drying Out Your Basement
Drying out your basement as quickly as possible is essential to preventing further damage and stopping the growth of mold, which can cause respiratory problems for your family.
Follow this checklist to cover all of the bases:
- Remove all carpet and upholstery from the area.
- Mop up all residual puddles.
- Open all windows for maximum airflow.
- Use water vacuums, large fans, and multiple dehumidifiers. You can either rent or buy this equipment yourself or ask your plumber for the contact details of a certified water-damage cleanup company.
- Wash all floors and walls to remove dirt.
- Replace damaged drywall and insulation to prevent mold from growing.
Portland might not see annual hurricanes like other parts of the country, but wild weather hits frequently enough for you to worry about your basement flooding. It’s a good idea to get additional coverage from the National Flood Insurance Program since regular homeowners insurance doesn’t usually cover flood damage.
Prevent Future Basement Flooding
To prevent flooding in the future, regularly check your floor drains by pouring water down them every few months. If they are not draining correctly, call a plumber to fix the issue before it becomes a disaster.