Storms, broken sump pumps and other challenges can lead to a flooded basement. There are important steps that you should be aware of to keep your home safe.
The Potential Hazards in Your Flooded Basement
Initially you may be concerned about the physical damage water causes to your finished walls, carpeting or floors. Also, standing water in a basement also presents serious health and safety hazards to people or pets. The water itself may cause home heating and hot water system failures that render them unsafe for use.
Here’s what you need to know about staying safe in your flooded basement:
- Never step into a flooded basement, crawlspace or other room if water may be in contact with electrical outlets, appliances or cords. The water could be electrically energized and possibly shock or electrocute you.
- Flooded water may mix with sewer or septic lines and contain high levels of bacteria.
- Never attempt to turn off power at the breaker box, especially if you must stand in water to access the box. If you can’t reach your breaker box safely, call your electric utility to shut off power at the meter.
- Never use electrical appliances or touch electrical wires, switches or fuses when you’re wet or when you’re standing in water.
- If an electrical appliance had been submerged or in contact with water, have a professional check it out before using it again. It may need repaired or replaced.
What do you need to know about water damage to equipment in the basement?
The Gas Appliance Manufacturers Association (GAMA) states that any gas control valves that have been submerged in floodwaters must be replaced. Water damage creates an issue where your equipment is no longer reliable. This can cause the stop the flow of gas during off cycles and present a safety hazard.
The gas control valve on a standard tank-type water heater or boiler can become submerged with as little as 16 inches of water and a furnace with as little as 24 inches of water. For an example, you can see the approximate height in the image as the technician works on the gas valve.
Potential damage to electronic controls from flooding on oil, gas and electric water heaters present an increased risk factor to the homeowner. Therefore, it may void the manufacturer’s warranty on affected equipment. Damage can be visible to the homeowner or may be hidden behind a cover or jacket.
Exposure to flood conditions causes corrosion of controls and components. There may also be a build-up of dirt and debris, or a short circuit situation. Even though appliances exposed to flooding may appear operational, the gradual build-up of dirt and corrosion over time can render safety devices inoperative.
Keep these points in mind with standing water or flood situation in your basement. Your safety and the safety of your family is your number one concern. Afterwards, take the time to ensure the proper care and concern is paid to your equipment.
By Domenic DeLeo
VP of Residential Installation