Tips To Clean Your Flooded Home

photoMany homes in Fairfax County have flooded basements, while others have  water on the first floor.  Here’s some advice from county experts on how to handle the situation.

Most importantly, do not enter a flooded area of your home until power is turned off.   If your electrical panel is in an area of your home that has been flooded, you should first hire an electrician and stay out of your basement.

You will be unable to use an electric sump pump unless you use a pump driven 12-volt auto battery. A gasoline engine pump may be used only if exhaust can be vented to the outside.

How to drain water from your home:

  • Do not drain water inside a flooded room until most of the water on the outside of the walls has gone down. This will prevent the walls from being pushed in or the floors from heaving.
  • Start pumping water out if the water inside is higher than the flood water level outside. You may need a measure to determine this.
  • Stop pumping when the two water levels become equal. Pump the basement water out at the same rate at which the flood waters recede.
  • Push water towards existing floor drains to carry water out of the home. Rent/Buy a submersible pump if there is deep water not draining.
  • Shovel mud from the basement as soon as all water has drained or has been pumped out to allow floors and walls to dry.
  • Remove silt and dirt stains by rinsing concrete walls and masonry foundation walls with a high pressure hose. If stains remain on the walls, scrub them with a stiff bristle brush and household detergent. Begin at the top and work down. Rinse often with clear water.
  • Start drying the basement as quickly as possible in order to minimize wood decay or growth of mold. Open all doors and windows to allow the moisture to flow outside. If you are sensitive to mold or mildew, wear a mask or respirator containing an appropriate filter.
  • Don’t run electrical near water. Once standing water has been removed you can use fans and dehumidifiers to dry the environment.

If ventilation does not remove odors:

  • Mop concrete floor and walls with a bleach solution (3/4 cups of household bleach to a gallon of water).
  • Rinse and dry after 5 minutes.
  • Open windows when applying the bleach solution.
  • Place a lump of dry charcoal in an open tin/metal container to absorb odors.
  • What to do with flooded appliances? Can they be kept or used?
  • Do not power on appliances which took on water!
  • Appliances do not need to be underwater to be flooded.
  • Have an electrician check the appliance and wiring.
  • If it is deemed safe you can keep and use the appliance.

Structural Damage
Basements flooded with surface water, seepage through walls or backflow from sewer lines often suffer little or no structural damage from the water, because the water inside braces the walls against the pressure of outside water and waterlogged soil.


About the Author

Truman Lewis
A former reporter and bureau chief, Truman Lewis has covered presidential campaigns, state politics and stories ranging from organized crime to environmental and consumer protection.