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How to Clean your Basement after a Flood

Whether a storm or a burst pipe causes your basement flood, you need to begin clean-up immediately to minimize damage.

Step One: Document and report your losses

Contact United Methodist Insurance (UMI) immediately. If you are unsure how to remove the water, UMI can provide you with names of restoration companies or even send out a representative.

Take photographs or compile a videotape of damages. Save your receipts from all repairs and purchases, and keep track of the time spent cleaning up the property.

Step Two: Drain the basement

Once you experience a flood, you need to drain the basement. Many people use a pumping system to get rid of excess water. If the water is only a few inches deep, it may seep out through the existing drain as the outside water diminishes.

Step Three: Remove destroyed property

Lay damaged papers and photos out in the sun to dry; this may save some of them.

Sort through clothing and belongings to determine what can be salvaged and what needs to be discarded. Remove furniture.

Step Four: Clean-up

If there has been sewage back-flow, wear rubber boots and waterproof gloves during the cleaning process.

Books and papers: Make a photocopy of valuable or important papers and discard the original. If you want to save an original document, place it in a frost-free freezer and consult with your restoration professional.

Carpet and backing: Remove water with an extraction vacuum. Reduce humidity levels with a dehumidifier. Accelerate the drying process with fans. This same process applies to cleaning concrete or cinder block structures and upholstered furniture. Steam-clean all carpeting.

Ceiling tiles, cellulose insulation, and fiberglass insulation: Discard and replace these items.

Hard surfaces and flooring: Vacuum or damp wipe with water and mild detergent and allow the surface to dry. Scrub if necessary. Check to be sure that the area under flooring is dry.

Upholstered furniture: Follow the instructions for carpet and backing—but remember that upholstered furniture can take more than 48 hours to dry.

Wood surfaces: Remove moisture immediately and use dehumidifiers, gentle heat, and fans for drying. Be careful using heat near hardwood floors. Clean treated or hardwood floors with mild detergent and clean water. Allow to dry. If you have paneling, pry it away from the wall to dry.

Walls and hard-surfaced floors: Clean with soap and water, then disinfect with a solution of one cup of bleach to five gallons of water. Be careful to completely disinfect surfaces that may come in contact with food, such as counter tops, pantry, shelves, and refrigerators. Carefully clean areas where small children play.

Linens and clothing: Wash in hot water or dry-clean.

A professional restoration company can completely clean the flooded area and treat the basement with chemical substances to eliminate the potential for mold growth. For more information about mold and how to get rid of it, go to Mold and Moisture: Act Quickly.

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