It’s happened to the best of us: A huge rain storm, a broken water main, or even fast-melting snow has caused your basement to flood. You may be tempted to just shopvac it all out of there, but hold on! Water below ground level must be removed slowly to equalize pressure on both sides of the basement walls. Pumping it out too quickly or too early can cause structural damage or even a cave-in. The more water in the basement, the more careful you need to be.
Start by testing groundwater levels by digging down a few inches just outside your basement. If the water pools, wait a day or two to hook up a submersible pump. Amd don’t go in without turning off the electricity first (if you can’t, call your utility and don’t go in at all). Gloves, eyewear, and a mask to protect yourself from cleaning agents or wastewater that may have seeped into the basement soup are always recomended. On the first day, remove just one foot of water (send it as far from the house as possible, preferably to a storm drain) and wait overnight. If the water level is back up, it’s too early to pump. Once the water stops rising, pump out two or three feet each day until the basement returns to normal. Then, you’ll just need to worry about replacing the flooring and cleaning up.
I remember this happening to my parent’s house when I was a kid. There was a tornado warning in the middle of the night, so we all woke up and went into the basement. We all fell back asleep, until my Dad touched the floor with his foot and found it to be soaking wet. Then, it was back upstairs for all of us.
We had a sump pump, but where we went wrong was not having a battery backup for it. Since it was electrical, it shut down the moment the power did, and our basement was unprotected from the storm waters outside. It was a pretty hairy situation, but we eventually got it cleaned up and good as new. Good luck – until next time!