Think April showers pose the biggest threat to your nice, dry basement? Think again. While spring is perhaps most notorious for rain, between now and April, hurricanes, blizzards and ice loom can cause power outages and rapidly rising water levels, wreaking havoc on defenseless basements. And considering this winter is expected to bring abnormally cool temperatures and high precipitation to many parts of the U.S., basement waterproofing should be taken seriously.
Don’t let your basement fall victim to flooding. Let’s take a look at each disastrous scenario followed by tips on preparing your basement and advice on what to do if, despite your best efforts, flooding does occur.
Basement Enemy #1: Hurricanes
The hurricane season in the Atlantic officially runs from June 1 to November 30. Torrential rains, high winds and storm surges are all characteristics of a hurricane. Protecting your property, including your basement, is important to weathering a hurricane. Make sure your home’s siding is in a good shape and your basement windows are well-sealed. High winds and long-lasting rainfall can do serious damage both to the inside and outside of your home.
Basement Enemy #2: Blizzards
Heavy snow, mixed with water already in the ground, can be a recipe for disaster for your basement, especially if it is prone to flooding. And extended power outages can add up to big problems if you don’t have a backup power source for your sump pump.
Basement Enemy #3: Ice
Although less obvious, ice is just as dangerous to a basement as blizzards and hurricanes. Like blizzards, ice can cause extended power outages, but it is also capable of weakening the integrity of your foundation. See, when water freezes it expands unlike many other substances that contract. This means that water that froze inside the cracks of your foundation is likely to make these cracks bigger and make its way in eventually.
10 Tips to Prepare Your Basement before a Hurricane, Blizzard or an Ice Storm
• Protect valuable items stored in your basement by moving them off the basement floor and placing inside plastic bins.
• Examine the drains near your exterior basement doors and windows and remove any debris to prevent clogging.
• Roll up and store area rugs on a higher level.
• Clean your gutters and downspouts to allow the water to flow away from the sides of your home and its foundation. If they are damaged, now is the good time to proceed with gutter replacement.
• Test your sump pump to make sure it is working and make sure you have a battery backup or a generator ready in case of a power outage.
• Reshape the landscaping around the foundation to make sure the ground slopes away from the foundation.
• If previous water damage has caused any interior cracks, caulk them to prevent more water from entering through the same spot.
• If an entire wall is or has been damp from previous flooding, consider having a licensed waterproofing contractor inspect and repair the damage.
What to Do If Flooding Does Occur
First of all, don’t panic. Follow these five simple steps to stay safe and minimize further damage.
• Turn off power to your basement and wear rubber boots while walking through the basement in case there are live wires (and because it wet!)
• Use a wet vacuum cleaner to suck up puddles in your basement.
• Once the water has been removed, use fans and humidifiers to get the air circulating throughout the basement to prevent mold.
• If at any time you begin to feel unsafe, call a professional to pump out water and repair your basement.
• Wipe down and disinfect anything that comes in contact with the water, including washers and dryers and furniture too large to remove. Some of the heavily damaged items might have to be tossed.
Preparedness is the key if you want your basement to make it dry through the unpredictable fall and winter weather. Remember that generators and sump pumps tend to sell out fast before a major storm and contractors are busy, so don’t wait till the last minute.