While there are a lot of positive things about having a home with a basement (like extra living space, storage, and privacy), one of the biggest drawbacks is that all basements will eventually leak, and the risk of flooding. Any homeowner who has dealt with a basement flood knows that it is not an easy fix. That’s why it’s crucial to address basement moisture at the first sign and take steps to prevent water entering your basement.
Here at Towne & Country Building Inspection, we love helping people in the greater Milwaukee area understand how their home works.
Here are 3 simple tips for preventing basement moisture and flooding:
- Clean your gutters
While it is certainly not the most fun chore on your list, giving your gutters a good clean twice a year is one of the simplest ways to prevent basement flooding. The purpose of a gutter system is to drain water away from your home, so get up in there and make sure leaves and debris are not keeping your gutters from doing their job.After your gutters are clean, check your downspouts to make sure they are securely installed and evacuate water at least three feet (if not more) from your home. Ideally, they should drain towards the street to move water toward the sewer system, but if you’re not close to the street, they should drain downhill from your home’s foundation.
- Fill gaps in windows and walls
Water will try and make its way into your basement through even the tiniest of cracks, so take this chance to secure some of the most likely entryways. Look for cracks on the exterior of your home’s foundation. If they’re very small (less than a centimeter), you can fill them yourself with epoxy from the hardware store. If they are larger cracks, call in an expert to fill them. Then, check and seal all basement windows. If you still notice a draft, consider calling in a professional to address the issue.
- Check your sump pump
The sump pump is the hero we need when fighting basement moisture. While this handy household tool can usually be left to do its thing, it’s important to check it periodically to ensure proper function. Never assume it is working. Be sure to check when it rains. First, listen to hear if it kicks on. This means it’s doing its job of removing water from the home.Next, lift off the sump crock cover and check the water level; if it’s low, the sump pump is doing its job.Finally, examine the sump crock and surrounding components for debris or blockages and clean if necessary.Before a big storm, test your sump pump and consider installing a generator to ensure it can still do its job in the event of a power outage.
What to do if your basement floods
If your home has experienced flooding in the past or does so before you’re able to take the preventative steps outlined above, act quickly to avoid big issues.
First, assess the severity of the flood; if water is covering the basement floor, you will want to call in a professional to remove the water and disinfect the space. Then, you may want to seek the help of a waterproofing expert to find out what measures you can take to prevent flooding in the future.
If the flooding is minimal, you may decide to address the problem yourself. First, turn off the electricity in your basement before making contact with the water. Next, drain the water out of the basement using a gas-powered water pump and ensure that your drainage plan has an exit point far enough away from the home that the water will not come back inside. Then, move items that have gotten wet to a place where they can begin to dry. Clean walls and floors by scrubbing them with a sponge and warm, soapy water, then open any windows, set up fans, and run a dehumidifier to remove moisture from the air and promote circulation. Finally, keep your nose tuned for mold over the ensuing days and weeks – if you notice a smell, use a bleach solution (with plenty of ventilation) to clean the area again.
Flooding is a risk for many homes in Milwaukee and surrounding areas. But you can save yourself a lot of time, money, and trouble in the future by taking a few simple preventative steps. At Towne & Country, we take pride in providing individuals and families in the greater Milwaukee area with expert residential home inspections, commercial, and historic property inspections. Don’t wait – give us a call to schedule your inspection today!