Pumping Water out of Your Basement After a Flood

In the water pump business, you always get a lot of calls for information whenever there is a flood. People wonder if it could happen here, and what kind of equipment they will need if it does. We would like to extend our support and our condolences to everyone affected by the recent floods in Queensland. And in case it happens here, we’d like to give our customers and readers a guide on how to pump water out of your basement after a flood.

Flooded HouseAs flood waters recede, to ground level, the water on your ground-level floor will flow out along with it. The problem is going to be the water in your basement. Most people’s first reaction is to try and pump every bit of water out of their basement as quickly as possible. This is a huge mistake, and can result in severe structural damage to your home.

If your power is back on, we recommend a submersible electric pump. Some submersible pumps run on a 12-volt marine or car battery or alternatively a petrol / diesel driven pump. If you have a pump that runs on one of these, it is preferred. Most of us, though, will probably end up using a pump that runs on standard house electricity, and you will have to find a place to plug it in. First, though, you have to make sure that you don’t electrocute yourself going into the basement.

If the water in your basement is deep, you must remember that water conducts electricity. If you walk into a flooded basement, make sure that everything is turned off first. Then, afford yourself another layer of protection by wearing heavy rubber boots and rubber gloves that can insulate you from electricity and absolutely don’t leak.

If your fuse box isolates your basement, and you know it as 100% fact that you can disable the power in the basement while leaving it on in the rest of your house, then you can use electricity in your house on the ground floor and higher.

If you are using a standard electrical outlet, you will need to run an extension cord to your submersible pump, which will pump water outside the building through a discharge hose. You will need to stabilise the hose, and make sure to direct the hose in a position that makes the water run away from the basement.

If you have done everything right so far, you haven’t electrocuted yourself, your family, or your pets. That is the most important part of pumping water out of your basement. But the next part is very important, too: don’t pump the water out of the basement all at once.

Even if flood water has receded, the ground water level can still be high. If the waters have just receded, there is a very high probability that the ground water on the outside of your basement is at least as high as the water in the basement.

When the water level is nearly to the top of your basement, it literally exerts tons of pressure on your basement walls. The water that is inside your basement serves to equalise the pressure, and keep the water outside from collapsing your basement, and with it your foundation, and possibly your entire house.

This raises an obvious question: how do you tell when the water level is too high? We recommend pumping out a foot of water the first day. Then, you mark the water level on the wall, and see if the water level in the basement has covered the mark. If it has, the water level in the basement is still too high.

If the water level is still too high, then wait 24 hours and pump out another foot of water. If the water doesn’t cover up your mark again, then you can pump two or three feet of water out of your basement and wait overnight, remembering to mark your new spot to make sure you aren’t pumping water out too fast.

After you have done the above steps, just repeat until the water is gone, and you only have what amounts to a wet floor. After the submersible pump has removed the lion’s share of the water, use a shop-vac or mops and buckets to remove the rest of the water.

After you have removed the water, use a disinfectant with anti-fungal properties on all surfaces that were covered with water. This will help keep your basement from developing mould.

Always remember that safety comes first. Hopefully, your basement will never flood, but if it does, having the right information can save your life.