What to do if your basement gets flooded during monsoon season

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LONGMONT, CO -Robert Pandolfi of Longmont, Colorado pauses for a moment while using a shovel to direct water in the basement of his boss’ home as residents clean up in the wake of a week of heavy flooding on September 16, 2013 in Longmont, Colorado. (Photo by Marc Piscotty/Getty Images)

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(ABC4) – Monsoon season, in addition to heavy winds and rains, can also carry an unexpected and often expensive consequence: stinky carpet.

According to Utah Disaster Kleenup, one of the largest disaster mitigation companies in the state, this last month has been the busiest in over a decade.

“We haven’t experienced anything like this in probably 10 years,” UDK marketing director Keri Jones says to ABC4.com. “We’ve seen an uptick before in calls related to wind and cold temperatures, but for rainwater, this is a high that very few of us have ever experienced here before.”

Jones explains that the increase in calls her team has responded to encompasses an area that spans from the Avenues neighborhood in downtown Salt Lake City to the outskirts of Tooele. Draper, Sandy, South Jordan, and Murray have all seen upticks in activity with up to two inches of rainfall in residential areas.

A good deal of that rainfall finds its way into window wells and eventually on the walls and carpets and basements, causing individual damages of hundreds, even thousands of dollars for homeowners.

Water damage from rainfall, Jones says, is treated nearly the same as sewer water. After hitting the ground and picking up pesticides, fertilizer, animal waste, and other dirty substances before ending up on the carpet of a family basement, the water can become quite gross.

Most of the time, Jones and her team recommend full disposal of any damaged property. As something that is not typically covered by homeowners’ insurance, recovering from a flood can be very expensive and entirely out of pocket.

For those who are affected by a flood, and are unable to acquire coverage within the 30-day waiting period or receive an exception for living near a recent burn scar, there are certain things homeowners can do on their own to reduce the cost of a disaster clean up.

First and foremost, Jones and UDK recommend getting everything out and dry without 24 hours of flooding by performing the following steps:

Extraction

– UDK advises flood-affected homeowners to get the water out by any means possible by using either a shop vac or a sump pump.

Remove carpet

– After drying the carpet, which likely has been soaking in bacteria-contaminated water, cutting it into strips and placing it into trash bags is advised.

Dispose of carpet padding

– Just like the carpet, chances are the padding is pretty gross at this point too. Luckily it’s far less expensive to replace. Throw it out.

Remove wet baseboards.

– Unfortunately, the wooden baseboards are probably ruined at this point as well. These are very susceptible to mold and other bacteria, so getting a utility knife and prying the boards off the wall, and replacing a few inches of drywall is probably a must.

Sanitize

– Clean it up and get all the icky bacteria out of the area. Any appropriate household cleaner will do

Air circulation

– To dry the basement after removing the ruined carpet and baseboards, load the area up with fans and air movers. Home improvement stores can rent out commercial-grade fans, but if all you have are floor fans, those are better than nothing. It’s vital to also dehumidify the space with a dehumidifier, which can also be rented, or by opening all the doors and windows.

While UDK is in the business of cleaning up after what can be an expensive and costly ordeal for homeowners, they recommend being prepared ahead of time. Working with flood insurance carriers is typically more “painless” than those without coverage, Jones says.

“If you are in an area susceptible to it, it’s, it’s a good thing to look at it’s a really good thing to consider,” she says of insurance. “If it’s not covered, it’s hard for individuals to come up with that money out of pocket. We’re here to try to offer suggestions on how they could do some of the things themselves and if they want to hire us to go ahead and do it we’re happy to do that.”

As far as replacing the stinky carpet with a fresh cut of new shag, that’s a different story.

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