What to Do When Your Basement Floods
You just came home from a long day at work, opened the back door, your arms full of groceries and the smell hits you like a thousand toddlers had left their dirty diapers in the swamp for a few days, then dropped them off inside your house. Your brain can’t even comprehend the smell.
Did the dog leave a few time bombs in your home? Was there a fight between your upstairs toilet and your downstairs toilet and no one told you? You are beginning to gag, at this point, the smell is overwhelming your senses. Where is it coming from? But, more importantly, what happened?
That’s right, the apocalypse of the backed-up sewer arrived in your basement while you were at work. It arrived with a vengeance and hazardous waste. As you gingerly walk downstairs, holding your nose firmly closed between your pinched fingers, your mind is swirling. What you see is far worse than what you imagined.
Human excrement lays scattered across your indoor-outdoor carpet in strange geometric patterns. As if it were trying to leave messages for the next invaders. Black water glistens as it creeps further into your basement, leaving soaked furniture and dripping dressers in its wake. It’s a big mess, that’s for sure. Now what?
Make Sure It’s Safe to Be Down There
First of all, make sure no one else goes down stairs. Block it off from little ones being able to amble down there. While most of your family will be happy to avoid the area, pets have been known to be curious enough to hazard the trip downstairs. So, make sure your family, including the four legged ones, aren’t able to access the basement.
Gases from human waste are toxic and can cause all sorts of health issues. From E. coli to asthma attacks, you could be exposing yourself to much more than just poop. So, make sure the area is well ventilated for your inspection. Because it’s in the basement, you may not have good ventilation. In this case, it’s best to wear a mask, like the Moldex N95 Disposable Respirator.
Wear Rubber Boots
There is a reason you see dairy workers wearing rubber boots and apron. They protect you from all sorts of wet byproducts you’d rather avoid. Just like a dairy, your basement has become a feces repository and walking in it without the right protection will bring the downstairs crud, upstairs. Wellington rubber boots allow you to slip easily in and out of them at the base of the stair, protecting the rest of the household. Plus, when you done, you can carry them outside and wash them easily without fear of any hazardous stuff is still clinging to them.
Disconnect Everything and Remove Clean Items
You’ll want to make sure there aren’t any electrical appliances still plugged in and running where the water could short it out. Even worse, it could turn your basement into an electric pool ready to char any unsuspecting fool who decided to enter. If you can, you’ll also want to remove any furniture or fixtures that haven’t been affected by the flood. Anything that hasn’t been contaminated by the sewage water should be moved out of the area.
Decide: DIY or Call a Professional
Depending on the amount of damage, you may want to consider cleaning the mess up yourself. It’s can save you a lot of money, but it’s also time consuming. You will want to weigh the pros and cons of doing it yourself versus having a professional come in to clean the mess up.
While you’re saving money, you may not be able to completely clean the area and ensure that all the toxic waste has been removed. You could be in for a nightmare if you don’t clean it fully, mold grows, and you have a sick family. Then it becomes a lot more expensive. Many professionals will work with you on costs. You can also consider emergency home repair loans to help you.
Fix the Issue Not The Symptom
If this is your first basement flood, you can probably be okay with cleaning out your sewer pipes and going about your business of living. But, if poo-pocalypse becomes a semi-regular occurrence, then there’s a deeper issue involved that just putting Drano down the pipes will not fix. In this case, a root may have driven itself into the sewer pipe and needs to be removed. Or the pipe is so old that it’s partially collapsed and needs to be replaced. If this is the second or third time you’ve experienced this, you should consider looking deeper into the issues that caused the backed-up sewer. If you catch it soon enough, the cost will be quite manageable.
Coming home to a horrid smell and toxic human waste in your basement isn’t on the list of top ten things people want to do in 2017, but when it happens, it can make your life miserable. These few steps will help you navigate the human waste apocalypse, if it ever occurs on your basement.