How to reduce the chances of basement flooding: everything you need to know

basement flood

Basement flooding isn’t uncommon these days. This is because they are usually built below ground level. Gravity forces water down, making the basement an easy place to flood. However, there may be another less obvious reason that built up areas have been so badly affected by flooding in recent years.

basement flooding


Sewage pipes and drain pipes can become blocked, stopping wastewater from passing. This can occur when pipes are old, excessive heavy rainfall, tree roots and careless practices can damage them or they may be just be leaking.

Old Pipes: It is likely that a property’s pipes are made out of plastic. Older property’s pipes can be made from clay or cast iron which aren't long lasting. However, all pipes can break down over time, by cracking, causing leaks.

Heavy Rainfall: Rainfall can put stress on sewage pipes in your area, which can back-flow into your home, resulting in a basement flooding including sewage floods. The Independent reported that due to the climate crisis, flash rainfall and flooding will become more frequent, affecting basement flats and rooms the most. Secondly, it is most likely to occur in properties in urban areas due to hard surfaces like pavements and high streets with nothing to soak it up.

The large amount of rainfall in a short amount of time we are experiencing more often, is too much for surfaces and pipes around a property. Basement properties in urban areas or a period of dry weather is followed by a large amount of rainfall in a short amount of time, it will cause water to run off the ground.

Tree Roots: Roots can become tangled on and in your sewage pipes, causing cracks and holes that can increase the chances of basement flooding significantly.

Careless Practices: Some clogs cannot be prevented. However, knowing what not to pour down the drain can reduce the chances of basement flooding. Grease can harden once it has cooled down, therefore, avoid pouring grease and fat down the drain.

Secondly, hygiene products are a big cause of basement flooding. The ‘Marine Conservation Society’ stated that 1.5bn-2bn sanitary products get flushed down the toilets every year in the UK, equating to almost half of UK women. It is not only female sanitary products that are an issue, but diapers, paper towels and cotton pads.

Other things not to pour down the sink are pasta and rice as these expand with more water exposure and can become sticky. Flour and coffee ground are also a big no no to pouring down the sink. These, especially when mixed with water and grease can build up and stick to your pipes. Lastly stickers from products are not water soluble, so they can remain sticky and build up in your pipes. By taking more care of what goes into your pipes and drains can significantly reduce the risk of basement flooding.

Another reason the situation may be far worse in urban areas, is be due to the increase in ‘super-basements’ that have appeared over the past 20 years particularly in the capital. The ground where these deep basement extensions would have previously been would have soaked up rain water. Some of these extensions are three-stories deep, in affluent areas of the capital, where there are restrictive planning regulations, resulting in property owners ‘digging-down’ rather than extending out. Many cities were badly hit by flash flooding last year. This could be a reason so may urban areas were affected.

Tips to minimise chances of basement flooding

Clean gutters & drains: These are essential to direct water away from your property. Therefore, keeping them clean and free of debris will help prevent the water from overflowing.

Make sure you take actions to prevent frozen pipes: Read our blog post here on how to spot, fix and prevent frozen pipes, which can help to reduce the risk of basement flooding

Sump Pump: Install a sump pump, and ensure that it is not installed on gravel and silt which can get inside and affect the motor. It is also important to make sure it is maintained every year – they can however fail on occasions, which could cause a basement flood.

What to do if your basement floods

  • Turn off electricity in the flooded areas
  • If the flood is a sewage spill, read our tips here on how to clean the affected area
  • Identify where the flooding has come from, if you can
  • Shut off the water
  • Always wear protective clothing
  • Clear out the room of anything that can be salvaged
  • Remove as much water as you can

You should call in the professionals as quickly as possible to:

  • Removal all excess water
  • Start the drying process
  • Look for mould and mildew
  • Sanitise all affected areas

Prompt action will reduce the chances of long-term damage. CPL t/a Rainbow International have vast experience in assisting clients with flood damage repair as well as helping with other hazards and issues in both the private and commercial sector across the South East. Call us now on 0800 030 4360.