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You come home from work and feel like something is off the moment that you open up the front door. You look around the house to see if you left an appliance running or if something is misplaced. In your disconcerting search, you finally open up the door leading downstairs and your stomach drops when you see that your basement has turned into a lagoon.

First, you’ll be worried about stopping the flood from getting worse. Then, you’ll want to figure out how to deal with all of that water damage.

Contact The Professionals

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You can’t tackle a flooded basement all on your own. You will need to call a plumbing company — they will know exactly what to do in a plumbing emergency and how to limit the damage as much as possible. They will advise you to reduce the water flow if you can.

For a broken, burst or leaking pipe, you can go to the house’s main shut-off valve in the basement. For an overflowing fixture, you can turn off its specialized shut-off valve nearby. For example, the toilet’s shut-off valve will be at the end of the hose connecting the toilet to the wall or the exposed pipe. For sewage back-up, there is sadly no emergency valve that can stop it from coming through the drains. All you can do is move valuables out of the way.

You should only go into the basement if it is physically safe to do so. Don’t risk electrocution just to grab your television or your furniture. If the pathway is clear of water, make your way to the house’s service panel and turn off the electricity in the entire house. If the pathway isn’t clear, you should call up your power company to see if they can shut off the power remotely. It’s important to prioritize your physical safety — and the safety of everyone else in the house — over the destruction of your personal property.

Deal With Insurance

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There is another reason why one of the first things that you should do when your basement floods is to get out your smartphone. After you’re done making calls to a plumber and the power company to get you through the emergency, you’ll need to use your phone to take photos and videos of the situation. These pictures and videos can be used as evidence of the flooded basement.

Be sure to back these photos up on an account or the cloud, so you don’t accidentally lose them. You will also want to log down the series of events like when you discovered the flood and when you called professionals for help. 

Depending on the root cause of the flooding, you may or may not get coverage from the insurance company for the damages. Your property insurance will likely deal with instances of unexpected discharge of water inside the house. This can help with broken water lines, overflowing fixtures, burst pipes and leaks, although there are always exceptions.

If the company can attribute the flooding to an act of personal negligence, you may not get covered. One all-too-common problem during the winter months is when residents return from a vacation to see that a pipe burst and flooded the house. The insurance company can deny the claim because they left the house unattended and didn’t take precautions like turning off the main valve or draining the pipes before they left.

Sewer back-up coverage relates to moments where water damage is caused by back-ups. It’s often after heavy storms when the city’s sewer system gets overwhelmed by precipitation and sends contents back into people’s home plumbing.

Your property insurance also does not include protection from water damage caused by outdoor water infiltration. Overland flooding insurance can help with flooding situations like extreme weather and overrunning lakes or rivers. Not all Ontario companies have this option for their customers, so be sure to check if it’s even available. It is becoming more popular because there is more overland flooding. It’s expected to grow in frequency because of global warming.

If you don’t have insurance coverage, you should get covered as soon as possible. Water damage is considered to be the biggest threat to homes nowadays — they account for an overwhelming percentage of home insurance claims in comparison to emergencies like fire and theft. Make sure that you are covered for all of the different types of water damage. That way, you can be comforted that insurance can get you through the expenses and repairs.

Tackle The Mould

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Renowned home expert Mike Holmes recommends that homeowners with flooded basements should combat mould growth right after the water has been removed from the area. When water seeps into the area, especially into fabrics like carpet and furniture upholstery, mould will come fast. Holmes warns that it can show up within twenty-four hours of the incident.

One of the first steps of mould removal is to get rid of as much moisture from the affected areas as you possibly can — this means opening up windows, running fans and using dehumidifiers to dry everything out. Throw out items that are not salvageable like soaked pillows, plush toys and mattresses. Scrub down surfaces and dry them so that there is no moisture for mould spores to flourish.

Anyone who is really overwhelmed by the level of water damage in their basement should call professionals to get rid of mould growth and to make sure it doesn’t resurface. It may seem like an overreaction, but the spores can grow behind your walls, inside of your furniture and underneath the carpet. It can be incredibly tenacious, so don’t underestimate its capacity for destruction.

Prevent Future Flooding

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After your basement floods, you should call us to make sure it never happens again. Not only will you receive practical advice on the best flood prevention devices, but we will also help you find red flags that are sitting right under your nose.

For example, one of the signs you need a new plumber is that you’ve been living with high water pressure and it’s gone completely unaddressed. The annoying problem could be the catalyst to more water damage by blowing out the hose of your washing machine or dishwasher. We can find out what’s causing the spike in water pressure and bring it down to a moderate level.

As for flood prevention devices, you could start by installing a backwater valve. The device creates a one-way sewage stream and blocks back-up from the city’s sewer system from pushing up through your drains. The situation will happen during heavy storms when the city’s system is overwhelmed with too much rainwater or snow-melt.

It’s an ideal choice for any household that’s dealing with a combined sewer system. It’s also a good idea if your home has dealt with sewer back-ups in the past. If it’s happened once before, it means your property is vulnerable to this type of flooding.

Another effective flood prevention device is a sump pump. A sump pump is installed in the lowest part of your basement in a sump pit. It collects groundwater from the weeping tile and directs it away from the foundation. If you already have a sump pump, you should give it a test-run to see if it’s still working. You don’t want to figure out you need a replacement in the middle of a flood.

Your sump pump should always have a backup plan. You can either install an auxiliary sump pump or have a generator that can kick in during a power outage. A surprising number of floods can be blamed on sump pump failure after the electricity cuts out.

Finally, an important flood prevention measure that you should follow is taking proper care of your home plumbing system. Keep your drains clear of obstructions — don’t put food, baby wipes and other objects down them. Place drain catchers in your sinks, bathtubs and showers to trap any elements that can cause a clog down the line.

You should also clean your drains with a simple home rinse. Pour white vinegar down the drain to tackle the bacteria and odour. Then, boil a kettle of water. Pour the entire thing into the drain to wash away stubborn build-up. Complete this simple routine on a regular basis.

If your drain appears to be clogged or working poorly, we offer drain cleaning services in Toronto and the GTA to clear out stubborn blockages and build-up. You never know when a clear drain can help prevent water damage. For instance, a clear floor drain can get rid of pooling water during a basement flood. On the other hand, a clogged one will only make the situation much worse.

Water can cause a lot of damage in a short amount of time. A single broken pipe can cause thousands and thousands of dollars worth of destruction in your basement. After the basement catastrophe hits, all you can do is try to minimize the impact of the flood. Contact the insurance company, stop mould from spreading and upgrade your plumbing to prevent the same thing from happening all over again.