Basement flood

Monday morning I awoke at 5:45am and I’m standing in the bathroom and I can hear some water.  A lot of it.  Oh no.  What’s going on down in the basement?

I rush to the basement and lo and behold, it’s bad.  It’s not two feet of water bad, but there are things floating around!

Now, in my hazy memory, I think I ran over to see what was going on at the sump pit.  And that my friends, is the dumbest thing I could have done.  In the heat of the moment, and the sluggish still-asleep brain, I had forgotten the #1 rule about approaching water…there could be electricity involved.

I started taking some photos after calling the insurance company.  This was taken after I managed to suck up most of the deep water.  Now all that was left was the surface stuff and whatever was under the laminate.

Luckily, I am here to tell the tale, but I have to tell you, I’m very upset and shocked with myself that I wasn’t thinking straight and I could have died going into that situation.  I still can’t remember if I had ran back up to Vero first to wake her up (sidenote: she thought there was a guy with a gun in the house with me screaming ‘VERO!  VERO WAKE UP!  Man, what a way to wake up!) and hauled on some rubber boots.  I’m not even sure if rubber boots would have saved me if I was wading in two inches of water and some electricity ran through it.  Maybe someone can let me know.

At first, I didn’t think there was much water over in the guest bedroom.  Then I noticed that when I stepped on the laminate you could see some water rise up in this crack.  Sure enough, when pulling it all off, there was some water under the floor.

Either way, I’m still a little shaken by the event after the fact and how I could have potentially be dead by now.

ANYHOW, let’s get back to the less morbid part of the story…the discharge pipe of the sump pit was gushing water upwards and outwards.  As in, I got a face full of it when I opened up the door to the pit.  Fantastic!  I remember unplugging the pump and assessing the situation.  Standing in two inches of water and water coming down onto my head meant that there was water all over the sump pit room.  I managed to bring in a new (spare) pump in and attach everything back together again.  After drying the electrical plug I fired it back up and everything seemed to be working fine again (as fine as standing in two inches of water could be).

Next up…how to get rid of all this water quickly.  I couldn’t find the spare portable pump I use to empty the hot tub so Vero suggested the shop vac.  Pro tip everyone: remove the air filter if you want to use it on ‘wet’ mode, otherwise it just stops when the bucket is half full and even at that, it has a really hard time pushing all that water through a filter!  I had to consult a youtube video to figure that one out!  After that, I’m not sure how many times I filled and dumped out the shop vac but at one point I wasn’t standing in two inches of water anymore.

Here’s what the place looked like after a day of work.

Now I can take a step back and analyze the situation.  Who do we call?  Well, we call JF of course who had two floods in the past five years!  He recommended we give the insurance company a call and they’ll arrange to have some emergency crews to come on out and give us a hand.

Sure enough, that’s what I do and those guys were here in about 30-60 minutes (timing is a little hazy writing this three days later).  Either way, their help was much appreciated.  Especially since I noticed the pump sometimes not running well and I was thinking the problem was not the pump at all.  After some tests, the project manager and I determined it was the check valve that must have been busted.  At least the problem was solved!  Now onto the cleanup.

The guys found some black mold under the laminate flooring around the TV.  Ewwww…how long have we been breathing that stuff?!  It’s interesting to see that years ago, they painted the floor as you can see the paint is flaking off now.

The rest of the day was spent tearing up laminate flooring, moving furniture and ripping off trim.  Note that Vero and I did help out but the majority of this work was done by the awesome emergency cleanup crew.  These guys were top notch.  They also put in these huge fans and dehumidifiers to suck the moisture out of the basement for the next 72 hours.

I hope our parents like what we did with their room.

It’s interesting to see what process occurs when a flood happens.  For everything bad that people say about insurance companies, they sure have their stuff together when an emergency occurs.  Within five minutes of me calling my insurance company, the emergency cleanup crew calls me and sends a team out.  Then I get a visit from the ‘field insurance adjuster’ that afternoon around 4pm to take a look around and take photos.  We also get a call from the insurance adjuster walking us through the steps and sending us some emails with information.  The next day we get a visit from an electronics technician who will test out a few thing around the house that may have touched water.  Tomorrow they will send over some people to cut out the ruined drywall.  After that…who knows what will happen but I’m assuming it’ll move into the renovation phase of fixing the basement.

It’s been a killer few days and unfortunately, it’s not like the end is near.  A basement doesn’t get renovated in a day (much like Rome).  We are lucky enough that it wasn’t sewage that had backed up so we can’t complain too much.  Of course we didn’t have it as bad as others do.  But it is a jarring experience and sometimes we find it very hard to absorb all that has happened.

I’m sure I will come up with a ton of tips so you can avoid situations like these yourselves.  I’m sure I’ll be adding them to this post.

  • I guess I should point out that this can happen to anyone…not just people who live in the country.  Inform yourselves about what can happen in your own basement even if you live in a suburb like Orleans.  Here: read this handy handbook this Friday night if you want to avoid a situation like this.
  • Try as you might, you can have a lot of backup systems in place, but they may not cover every scenario imagined.  Try your best and don’t be afraid to spend some money to get to a point where you are comfortable with every eventuality.
  • Keep important documents up high!  We were extremely lucky that the water did not enter the storage room.  There are two important things close to the floor in that room…our filing cabinet with important documents and my X-Men comics.  🙂  I now realize that I should arrange my comics not in alphabetical order but in order of value!
  • Don’t be a fool and rush into a situation involving water without dealing with electricity first.  Seriously.  Dumb mistake.


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