What to do if your basement floods and how to prevent it

Kevin Clark — owner of Dry Right Inc., a Miamisburg-based emergency water removal company — said his company’s phone has been ringing off the hook.

“We’ve been working past midnight every night for the last two weeks or so,” Clark said.

Early Wednesday morning, Clark watched as one of his crews used specialized equipment to remove groundwater from a Centerville homeowner’s finished basement. It was the second time the home’s basement had flooded in a week’s time, apparently because a sump pump didn’t prevent water from soaking the home’s wall-to-wall carpeting.

“Sometimes, Mother Nature is in control,” Clark said.

It’s a scene playing out in every corner of the region.

Alex Tobey of Beavercreek said four houses (including hers) on Arlington Place had flooded basements.

April Schedig of Springboro said she will let her sense of smell tell her whether the carpet installed in her basement will survive after she and her family removed 150 gallons from her basement with a Shop-Vac.

Aneesa Bhimani-Trimble of Centerville said water was “seeping in from all sides of our basement.”

And no two basement floods are exactly alike — water can come up through a floor drain because of an overwhelmed storm sewer or a partially clogged line, or it can seep in through cracks in the walls or on the floor, through porous window wells, or through many other means. But there are some things homeowners and renters can do to minimize the damage and reduce the risk of reoccurrence.

The Dayton Daily News talked to some very busy flooding specialists about what to do when a basement floods, and how to prevent it from happening again. Here is some advice from the pros:

Kevin Clark, Dry Right Inc.

Do not touch or operate any electrical appliances while standing in water. Some homeowners will attack a pool of water with a Shop-Vac or some other kind of pump without taking precautions. “That’s an accident waiting to happen,” Clark said. “You wouldn’t blow-dry your hair while standing in a bathtub, would you?”

Wear waders and rubber gloves in a flooded basement to keep bacteria and other pathogens that may be present in the water away from your skin.

Use a Shop-Vac only on small pools of water and in cases when you can stand on dry ground. Trying to use such a device on a larger-scale flood “is almost a waste of time — it’s like shooting BBs at an elephant,” Clark said.

After the water recedes or is removed, scrub floors and other surfaces with dishwashing liquid and warm water. The dishwashing liquid is preferable to cleaning with bleach, which leaves a residue that can be conducive to future mold growth, Clark said.

Charlie Begley, general manager of EverDry Waterproofing Fairfield, which services the Miami Valley and southwest Ohio

Keep the grade of the earth around your house high so your yard slopes away from the foundation. “If you have patios or sidewalks or porches leaning toward your home, have them replaced.”

Make repairs to small cracks in basement walls, because small cracks grow over time into larger cracks due to droughts, tremors and water damage.

Waterproofing companies guarantee their work of digging out and patching cracks in floors and walls, for example, but the guarantee does not cover basement flooding that is caused not by water leaking through walls but rather by water flowing into basements from backed-up storm sewers or clogged floor drains.

Dan Beck, general manager of Greive Hardware Stroop Road location in Kettering

Keep gutters and downspouts clean and flowing, and make sure downspouts are extended so they dump water away from your home’s foundation.

Small cracks in basement walls can be chiseled out and repaired with hydraulic cement, and walls can be sealed with dry-lock waterproofing paint.

Those with sump pumps should consider installing a second one, or at least buying a second one and having it on hand in case the first one fails.

Dennis Jones, plumber and owner of Free-Flo New Lebanon

Inexpensive water alarms, which work like smoke alarms and cost less than $20, can be set up in key spots in the basement to alert homeowners to the early stages of a leak or overflow, and they’re available at local hardware and home-improvement stores.

Recurring flooding problems involving the main water line can be addressed by the installation of a backflow preventer or check valve.

Jennifer Weaver, Mousaian Oriental Rugs Dayton

A wool rug can withstand a flooded basement in most circumstances, if the owner dries it quickly.

If a water extractor is not available, use a Squeegee or a shop-vac to get as much water out of the rug as possible. Dry it outside if possible, or if weather won’t permit outside drying, run fans over it, making sure to flip the rug to ensure even drying.

Rugs that have a cotton foundation are more prone to developing mold, mildew and dry rot.

Rugs that smell musty should be professionally cleaned as soon as possible.

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