How much does a flooded basement cost?

Basement flooding can cause many serious problems, such as rotted sheetrock, damp insulation and weakened support beams. Causes for a flooded basement include a burst water pipe, backed-up sewer lines, a failed sump pump, a broken hose on a water heater or washing machine and heavy rainfall.

Typical costs:

  • Costs will vary considerably depending on whether there's an inch of clean water covering the basement floor, a foot of sewer water, or several feet of water, mud and other storm debris. Basic costs to pump out and thoroughly dry a basement lightly flooded with clean water can start around$500-$1,500 and increase to$2,000-$10,000 or more, depending on the basement size and the need to repair or replace damaged items such as flooring, walls, ceilings, support beams or furnishings. The major factors affecting the total restoration cost are the depth and the type of water -- whether it's clean water from a pipe (category 1), gray water (wastewater with minor contaminants, such as overflow from a dishwasher or washing machine, called category 2) or category 3 black water (sewage or other toxic debris -- flood waters are category 3) which poses immediate health concerns.
  • Professional restoration specialists use industrial-strength equipment such as pumps, dehumidifiers and box fans. For do-it-yourselfers, portable utility pumps can cost$70-$250 each, with about another$50-$100 for a large-diameter discharge hose to direct the water out of the basement (some pumps can be connected to a garden hose, but the smaller diameter hose means the pumping will take longer). Dehumidifiers average$200-$300 for typical residential versions but can be$800-$1,200 for larger-capacity models like the ones professional restorers use.
  • A flooded basement might be covered binsurance. Homeowners' insurance does not cover flooding but does cover some disasters, such as hail smashing a window or as a broken water pipe spewing water -- if the problem was not caused by the homeowner's failure to perform expected maintenance. The Insurance Information Network of California explains what homeowners need to know about flood insurance.

What should be included:

  • Before entering a flooded basement, turn off the electricity and gas or fuel service; check the outside walls for any sign of structural damage or other hazards; and position fans to blow fresh air into the basement. When working inside a flooded basement, wear rubber boots, gloves and a face mask. The Illinois Department of Public Health provides a fact sheet on cleaning up after a flood or sewer overflow.
  • A water damage restoration company typically follows the standards of care of the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification or the Restoration Industry Association. A company representative will inspect and evaluate the basement, often using water sensing equipment to determine the source of the source of the problem and the extent of the damage. Next the company will pump out and dry the basement, removing all debris, and sanitizing and deodorizing all affected areas and materials. Equipment used might include special air movers, air scrubbers, floor drying systems and dehumidifiers -- possibly multiple dehumidifiers. This equipment might be left in place for several days, and then the site will be re-evaluated to see how well the drying process is progressing. Usually the company will document all damages in writing, and help the homeowner deal with the insurance company.
  • If standing water is pumped out of a basement too quickly, the walls can buckle because of the pressure pushing in from the surrounding water-soaked soil. Purdue University provides guidelines for pumping water from a flooded basement.
  • If the basement is filled with gray water or black water, all water-damaged rugs, mattresses, particle board furniture, suitcases, etc must be thrown out. AllergyBuyersClub.com recommends following this key rule: If in doubt, through it out.
  • Take photos of any damage for potential insurance claims and tax deductions, and a keep a record of all related expenses.

Additional costs:

  • If the heating system was flooded, the insurance company might require proof that it was cleaned by a professional before it's used again. Cleaning can cost$50-$150 or more, depending on local rates and if the furnace was damaged.
  • It may be possible to prevent future flooding by installing a sump pump. These start around$100-$300,but can cost$2,000-$6,000 for professional installation.

It might be necessary to find temporary lodging. This might be covered by insurance.


Posted 6:00 PM

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