Basement Disaster …. All thanks to a Toilet!
The Luxe family of four living in the countryside went about their usual morning routine getting ready for their busy day ahead. Dad headed off to work and mom rallied the kids into the car for school drop off than off to work. Little did they know, the toilet located in the basement that was flushed right before they left would malfunction and continuously run all day. With the constant flow of water making, it near impossible for the water to flow out of the septic system, the system fails resulting in what is called hydraulic overloading and backs up through the plumbing system from your toilet and floor drains in the basement.
If your basement is flooded, time is not on your side and can result in a disastrous outcome. The longer water sits, the more damage it creates. Even a small amount of standing water can soak in and wick up the drywall in a matter of hours. In this family’s case, it was almost 8 hours before the food in the basement was discovered. It had flooded the entire bathroom, laundry room and most of the living room and yes it was a finished basement.
Before entering into the flooded space, you wan to make sure if is safe to proceed and that there is no risk of shock. If the water in your basement is so deep that it may have reached electrical outlets or wiring, turn off the power before entering the basement. If you cannot safely access your circuit breaker because there is water in the way, call a professional. Do not walk-through water to turn off the circuit breaker. If there is possible septic back up, you will want to throw on a pair of rubber boots. First task at hand, stop the source of the flooding if possible. The flooding could come from many sources such as a broken water line, water heater, cracked foundation leaking during a storm or in this case a toilet. If water is leaking from inside your home, turn off your water main. If your basement is flooding from the outside, your options may be limited, but do what you can to prevent more water from coming into your basement.
In this case there was less than a foot of water, so it was safe to proceed. The water to the toilet was turned off and a wet-vac was brought in from the garage to start the long process of pulling up all of the black water from the basement. A sump pump is another efficient tool for removing water from a flooded basement. If you do not own one, there are many places that rent them. The floor drain in the basement was checked to make sure it was clear of debris to help remove water more rapidly. Once the water is mostly gone, you need to dry out the basement. It will be very damp and humid following a flood. Damp, humid, and dark basements support the growth of mold and mildew. And that could be bad for your family’s general health. Running some floor fans along with dehumidifiers will help with pulling more water from the basement.
The Luxe family grabbed the pile of laundry sitting on the floor was soaking wet and put into garbage bags. They knew they needed to remove any items in their basement that were damaged or water-soaked from the flooding. Leaving them in place would only enable the problem to linger. The emptier the basement, the faster it should dry out following a flood. Once all of the standing water was cleaned up the damage became much more visible. The picture shows how the leak was crawling up the drywall. The flooring squished under our feet as we walked and water pooled around our feet when we stood on the carpet. They were hopeful that the carpet might be able to be saved so we pulled the wet section up and “tented” it over something so that the air could circulate under it and dry out properly. The kids’ toys that were battery operated would not turn on and we could see the water stains on the wall growing bigger and bigger as time passed. If you are not equipped to remove the standing water on your own, reach out to a local company specializing in water damage and restoration services.
When your home suffers from water damage, you might be able to file a homeowners insurance claim for damages. If the claim is approved, your insurer might pay for the costs to repair your damaged home, impacted furnishings and loss of personal belonging. The claim also might help to pay for water mitigation services. Every homeowners’ insurance policy is different so best to call your insurance agent right away and start the claim process right away. Make sure you grab a camera to thoroughly document all of the damage to the structure, furnishings and each and every personal belonging. Do not throw out any items until the insurance company gives you the go ahead.
Luckily for the Luxe’s their homeowner’s policy was indeed going to cover the cost of the demolition, repairs and replacement of personal property. They sent their own restoration company in to complete the demo and remove any impacted items for disposal. This was a huge help but unfortunately took almost a week to get organized. We were told to try and limit our time in the basement and to leave everything as it. Mold and mildew are silent dangers that your flooded basement could create. Both can aggravate respiratory problems. As you can see from the picture, it did not take long for mould and bacteria growth to set in. it was even worse behind the walls where there was no air flow. Once the basement flooring was removed it was treated multiple times with a disinfectant to prevent the growth of bacteria and algae and sanitizing areas and laundry machines that came in contact with the septic back up. An antibacterial carpet sanitizer was applied along with a thorough cleaning. On a side note, the restoration company came in and also took their own pictures throughout the day that were provided to our insurance company to document the work they did and the damage.
The Luxe’s worked with their insurance company to replace personal belongings and in the selection process of picking out new flooring and bathroom fixtures. All items being replaced had to be comparable to what had been original there. In the Luxe’s basement they had a standard single sink 2 door vanity so it needed to be replaced with another single sink vanity made of similar materials. Now you maybe thinking you could tackle all of this yourself and just have the insurance company pay you. Although this option was presented to the Luxe’s, they decided that in this case it was best to call in the professionals to give us peace of mind.