If you own a home or property with a basement, you probably already know the risks involved when it comes to basement floods. Basements are almost always underground, even if just partially, increasing the risk of water ingress from the surrounding ground and drainage systems.
Having a basement doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed a flood but we’ve outlined the top 5 causes of basement flooding and what you can do to mitigate the risk. Basement floods are often caused by flash flooding, poor drainage, burst water pipes, blocked pipes or other internal plumbing issues.
Let’s be honest, there’s not much you can do to avoid flash flooding or heavy rain. If you live in a naturally low-lying area, or somewhere that has a high-water table, your property is going to be more prone to flooding, with or without a basement. Properly sealed basements should be able to withstand a fair amount of flooding, unless water has infiltrated the property at ground floor level.
However, the strain put on basements increases heavily during periods of external flooding and weak seals, cracks in walls, or a rapidly increasing water level in the cavity below a basement can compromise its ability to stay dry. Sump pump failures, used to pump water out of the cavity below your basement, will further increase the chance of a basement flood due to flash flooding or extensive rainfall.
There’s no hard and fast way to stop flash floods or heavy rainfall but there are ways you can protect your basement. Regularly having your sump pump tested will ensure it’s working as it should, helping to alleviate the strain when faced with heavy rainfall. Additionally, regularly checking your building’s structure and addressing any areas of damp, or minor leaks will ensure you spot problems before they get worse.
Removing wastewater from your property is essential to keeping it dry, especially when you have a basement. Wastewater doesn’t just refer to sewage, it’s any water within your property boundary that you don’t want there, such as standing water in and around your property. Grass, trees and soil offer natural drainage solutions that help keep water from entering your property, however heavily built-up areas can often face drainage problems due to the increase of non-porous surfaces such as roads, pavements and buildings.
Additionally, poorly constructed drainage systems can increase the likelihood of a basement flood, for example gutter downpipes expelling water near basement windows, or issues with your property’s sump pump.
Improving your property’s drainage systems will help reduce the risk of basement floods. If flooding is a regular occurrence, consult a professional who may be able to offer further advice on how to waterproof your basement and address surrounding drainage issues.
A burst water pipe can have disastrous consequences regardless of whether your property has a basement or not. However, as mains water tends to travel into properties from underground, a burst pipe will increase the risk of basement floods. The fast flow of mains water can cause basements to flood quickly and therefore a fast response is required to salvage your property. So, what should you do in the event of a burst water pipe?
1) Turn off your electrics. Water and electricity do not mix!
2) Turn off your mains water supply. This will stop more water entering the property and prolonging the flooding. Read about how to do this in this blog post.
3) Remove what you can from the flood zone, including valuables, furniture and other loose items. The sooner they’re removed the better their chance of restoration.
4) Call CPL t/a Rainbow International - the experts in flood and water damage clean-up and restoration.
5) Call your insurance provider.
Did you know the average washing machine can use up to 50 litres of water during a single cycle? Now imagine there’s an issue with the pipework connecting your washing machine to the mains water or wastewater pipework – that’s a lot of water that could flood your property. If you use your basement as a laundry room, you could be faced with a basement flood thanks to faulty internal plumbing.
Similarly, basement toilets, showers and sinks, all have to potential to become faulty, resulting in basement flooding.
Although not usually as disastrous as a burst mains pipe, internal plumbing can still cause major issues, especially if problems aren’t picked up straight away. To reduce the chances of basement floods due to internal plumbing issues, it is advisable to test and check your plumbing regularly, looking for signs of wear and tear. Keeping appliances clean and free from limescale can also reduce the chances of flexible pipes becoming brittle and snapping.
A blocked pipe is never good news. Often occurring because of things being flushed that shouldn’t be (think paper towels or sanitary products) or food and oil getting into kitchen pipes causing fat bergs to build up in your sewage system, blocked pipes can cause wastewater to flow back into your home and your basement.
Wastewater is especially dangerous as it can contain contaminants such as raw sewage. If you have any concerns that your basement flood water contains sewage or other hazardous material, contact a flood & water damage clean-up & restoration specialist such as CPL t/a Rainbow International as soon as possible, to begin the extraction and restoration process.
By following these steps you can reducing the chances of a blocked pipe:
1) Never flush anything except toilet roll. This includes “flushable wipes” which actually aren’t safe for your sewage systems.
2) Pour waste oil and fats into the bin not down the sink. Make sure you wait for them to cool and solidify before disposing into a waste bin.
3) Clear out your shower and bath plugs of trapped hair regularly to avoid large build ups.
4) Invest in a drain protector to catch loose food and debris before it enters your pipework.
5) Look after your drains! Just because you can’t see them it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep them clean. Invest in good drain cleaning solutions to keep blockages at bay.
If you’ve suffered a basement flood and need help fast, contact CPL t/a Rainbow International today. Alternatively, if you need more information on how to clean up after a basement flood or mould removal after a flood, we’ve got you covered.