How To Cleanup a Flooded Basement

How To Cleanup a Flooded Basement

Choosing Between DIY and Professional Water Damage Restoration Company Help

Flooding in the basement can be a daunting and overwhelming experience. Whether it’s caused by heavy rain, a burst pipe, or a malfunctioning sump pump, dealing with the aftermath requires prompt and effective action. This guide will walk you through the steps to clean a flooded basement yourself and help you decide when it might be best to call in a professional water damage restoration company.

DIY: How to Clean a Flooded Basement

Cleaning a flooded basement yourself can save money, but it requires time, effort, and the right equipment. Follow these steps to tackle the job effectively:

1. Ensure Safety First

Turn Off Power: Before entering the flooded area, ensure the power to the basement is turned off. Water and electricity are a dangerous combination. If the main electrical panel is located in the basement and you can’t access it safely, call an electrician.

Protective Gear: Wear protective clothing, including rubber boots, gloves, and a mask, to protect yourself from contaminants and debris in the water.

2. Remove Standing Water

Using a Sump Pump: If you have a sump pump, use it to remove the bulk of the water. Make sure it’s properly installed and functioning.

Wet/Dry Vacuum: For smaller amounts of water, a wet/dry shop vacuum can be effective. Make sure it’s designed to handle water.

Buckets and Mops: In cases where electrical equipment can’t be used, manual removal with buckets and mops may be necessary.

3. Remove Damaged Items

Furniture and Belongings: Remove all items from the basement. Prioritize items that can be salvaged and discard those that are irreparably damaged. Place them in a dry area for further cleaning or drying.

Carpeting and Flooring: If the flooding was extensive, carpets and padding will likely need to be removed and discarded. Non-porous flooring like tile may be cleaned and disinfected.

4. Dry the Area Thoroughly

Ventilation: Open windows and doors to allow air circulation. Use fans to increase airflow and speed up the drying process.

Dehumidifiers: Use dehumidifiers to remove excess moisture from the air, which will help prevent mold growth.

Heating: If possible, raise the temperature in the basement to aid in drying. Use space heaters if the central heating system is not accessible.

5. Clean and Disinfect

Clean Surfaces: Scrub all surfaces with warm, soapy water. This includes walls, floors, and any remaining items that were in contact with the water.

Disinfect: Use a solution of bleach and water (1 cup of bleach per gallon of water) to disinfect the area. This will help kill bacteria and prevent mold.

6. Inspect for Mold

Visual Inspection: Check for visible signs of mold growth. Mold can appear as black, green, or white spots on walls, floors, and other surfaces.

Smell Test: Mold often has a musty odor. If you detect this smell, there’s a good chance mold is present.

Professional Testing: If you suspect mold but can’t see it, or if you’re concerned about health risks, consider having a professional conduct mold testing.

7. Repair and Restore

Structural Damage: Inspect the basement for any structural damage, such as cracks in the walls or foundation. These should be repaired to prevent future flooding.

Replace Damaged Materials: Replace drywall, insulation, and flooring that was removed. Ensure all materials are dry before installation.

Prevent Future Flooding: Consider installing a sump pump, improving drainage around your home, or sealing basement walls to prevent future water ingress.

When to Call a Professional Water Damage Restoration Company

While DIY methods can be effective for minor flooding, there are situations where professional help is necessary. Here’s when you should consider calling a professional water damage restoration company:

1. Extensive Flooding

If your basement has significant flooding, with several inches of standing water, it may be too much to handle on your own. Professionals have industrial-grade equipment to quickly remove large volumes of water.

2. Contaminated Water

Floodwater that contains sewage, chemicals, or other hazardous substances requires specialized handling to ensure safety and thorough cleaning. Professionals are trained and equipped to deal with such contamination.

3. Risk of Mold Growth

If the water has been standing for more than 24-48 hours, there’s a high risk of mold growth. Mold remediation requires specialized techniques and equipment to ensure it is completely eradicated and doesn’t return.

4. Structural Damage

Significant structural damage, such as foundation cracks or compromised walls, should be addressed by professionals. They can assess the extent of the damage and provide the necessary repairs to ensure the safety and integrity of your home.

5. Insurance Claims

Professional restoration companies can assist with insurance claims by documenting the damage, providing detailed reports, and working directly with your insurance company to expedite the claim process.

Professional Water Damage Restoration Process

Here’s a look at how professional water damage restoration companies handle a flooded basement:

1. Emergency Contact and Assessment

Immediate Response: Restoration companies offer 24/7 emergency services. They respond quickly to minimize damage.

Assessment: Upon arrival, professionals assess the extent of the damage, including water contamination levels, affected areas, and potential health hazards.

2. Water Removal

Industrial Pumps and Vacuums: Professionals use powerful pumps and wet/dry vacuums to quickly remove standing water.

Moisture Detection Tools: They use moisture detectors and hygrometers to find hidden pockets of water and moisture.

3. Drying and Dehumidification

High-Volume Fans and Dehumidifiers: Industrial-grade fans and dehumidifiers are deployed to dry out the area thoroughly.

Drying Monitoring: Professionals continuously monitor the drying process, adjusting equipment as needed to ensure optimal drying conditions.

4. Cleaning and Sanitizing

Comprehensive Cleaning: All affected surfaces are cleaned with professional-grade cleaning agents.

Sanitizing and Disinfecting: Antimicrobial treatments are applied to prevent mold and bacteria growth.

Odor Removal: Specialized equipment such as air scrubbers and fogging devices are used to remove any lingering odors.

5. Restoration and Repairs

Structural Repairs: Any necessary structural repairs are conducted, including drywall replacement, painting, and flooring installation.

Final Inspection: A thorough inspection is conducted to ensure the area is completely dry, clean, and safe.

6. Documentation and Insurance Assistance

Detailed Documentation: Professionals provide detailed documentation of the damage and repairs, which is essential for insurance claims.

Direct Communication with Insurance: Many restoration companies work directly with insurance companies, providing reports and updates to facilitate the claims process.

Choosing Between (DIY) Do it Your Self or a Professional Basement Flood Cleanup Company

Deciding whether to handle a flooded basement yourself or call a professional basement flood cleanup company depends on several factors:

When to do a DIY Clean up:

  • The flooding is minor, with only a small amount of water.
  • The water is clean and free of contaminants.
  • You have the necessary equipment and protective gear.
  • You can dedicate the time and effort required for thorough cleaning and drying.

When using a Professional Basement Flood Clean up is nessassary:

  • The flooding is extensive, with several inches of standing water.
  • The water is contaminated with sewage or chemicals.
  • There’s a high risk of mold growth due to delayed response.
  • Structural damage is present, requiring professional repairs.
  • You need assistance with insurance claims.


Cleaning a flooded basement can be a challenging and labor-intensive task. While minor flooding can often be managed with a DIY approach, more severe cases require the expertise of professional water damage restoration companies. By assessing the extent of the damage and considering factors such as contamination, mold risk, and structural damage, you can make an informed decision on the best course of action. Whether you choose to handle it yourself or call in the professionals, prompt and thorough attention is essential to restore your basement to a safe and livable condition.

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