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Keep Your Basement Dry with These Tips

Flooded basement
Tips to help prevent basement floods.

Nothing strikes terror into a homeowner’s heart like coming home to water flooding the basement. Unfortunately, climate change has made basement floods increasingly common. It’s not only a pain to clean up, but a flooded basement can damage or destroy carpets, furniture, appliances and drywall, creating a smelly, potentially moldy mess. Whether or not your homeowners insurance will cover the incident depends on the source.

How to Prevent Basement Flooding

To start, you’ll want to conduct regular inspections to identify potential issues and points of entry. Walk around the house and around the basement. Look for any signs of moisture, around plumbing and windows, on the walls, etc. If you see potential plumbing leaks, contact a plumber. Other issues can be trickier to solve.

Keep the gutters clean. Gutters collect rainwater from the roof and direct it away from the home. If the system is clogged with leaves and other debris, it can’t perform well. You should clean the gutters at least once per year—preferably twice (both spring and fall)—either tackling the job yourself or hiring a professional.

Assess the landscaping. Does the land slope toward the house instead of away? This configuration encourages water to pool around the foundation. Consider spending a weekend adjusting the slope of the ground to direct water away from your home. River rocks, shrubbery, mulch, and other landscaping can help prevent water from finding its way into the basement.

Speaking of landscaping, are any of the trees or shrubs near the home overgrown? Roots can crack basement walls and cause other problems with walkways, septic systems, etc. Consider relocating plants that have overgrown their beds.

Seal the basement. Is water coming through the windows or doors? Fresh caulk or might solve the problem. But what if water is seeping in from the ground? You can probably do minor waterproofing yourself. It’s easy to plug holes in walls with specially formulated sealants, apply waterproof coatings on concrete walls and floors with a paintbrush, and replace weather stripping. More extensive repairs, however, should be handled by a professional. This work might include installing an impermeable membrane and drain board between the earth and the home.

Install a sump pump. This device moves water from your basement to the outside of your home where it can’t cause damage. Installers will carve a hole below the surface of the floor where the sump pump will sit. When water reaches a set level, the pump’s valves detect the water and automatically pump it through a discharge line bored through the wall to a safe drainage area. The pump removes water from the basement, but there still might be some dampness, which a dehumidifier can address.

What to Do if Your Basement Floods

Once water gets in, you need to get it out quickly—before mold and mildew set in. If the water is less than an inch deep, using a wet-dry vacuum should clean up most of the mess. Follow up with towels as needed, and consider running a dehumidifier to help dry the area. For deeper water, it’s best to call in professionals.

Basement Flooding and Homeowners Insurance

Depending on the source of the water, your homeowners insurance may cover basement flooding. For instance, if the flood resulted from a burst pipe or a sudden appliance malfunction, such as a leaking washing machine, your insurance policy may cover damage to the basement and personal property.

A flood from groundwater, however, would require a separate flood insurance policy, and even then, personal property may not be covered. You should discuss your situation and your options with an experienced insurance expert, who can recommend the best product for your needs.

For a free review of your current homeowners insurance policy, please call 877-576-5200 or contact us online.

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