3 TYPES OF WATER THAT CAUSE BASEMENT FLOODING
Life has many things science has noticed abounding in threes. Three primary colors, three laws of motion, three phases for water and all these exist in a three dimensional world. On a lighter note we have a three ring circus, three wise men and an affable game that needs only hands, rock, paper, scissors. With all these threes to ponder I would like to add one few would consider, the 3 types of water that cause basement flooding.
The reasons why basement flooding occurs can be numerous and devastating especially if it is a finished basement. Basement flooding can happen from water seepage through a small rod hole or crack in the wall, foundation leak, a drain backup, a hot water heater bursting, laundry tub that clogs and overflows and even a frozen and burst fresh water pipe. There are also reasons basements flood that are not related to the basement itself. There can be things that happen above the basement realm from a kitchen, bathroom or malfunctioning appliance like a dish washer that ultimately makes its way to the basement and creates the water damage. Because basements occupy the lowest point in a home’s structure water is sure to head down there.
Before Newton arrived on the scene and codified our understanding of gravity water was deluging to any space available below it. However, when the ground water outside the home rises above the foundation slab, this too even without gravity will force water into the basement through pressure that looks for relief. Water from the ground outside the basement is one of the 3 types of water damage that can cause basement flooding.
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The 1st type of water that causes basement flooding.
This first type is also the least contaminated because it originates from a fresh water source such as a fresh water pipe in your home. This is the municipal water in your home that you pay for, wash in and drink. It is also referred to as Category 1 Water – Water that originates from a pure source and does not immediately pose substantial threat to humans and is also known as fresh water.
Examples of fresh water flooding a basement
There are multiple ways in which fresh water can inundate an upstairs area of a home and ultimately end up in the basement. First floor laundry rooms are areas of the home where this occurs rather regularly. The laundry wash tub can get a drain clogged and when the washing machine discharges it overflows the tub. Another scenario is the washing machine malfunctions and overflows sending water all over the laundry room that finally finds its way to the basement. Any room of the home with a sink, or water supply line is another potential source that has fresh water that can create a flooded basement if a disaster occurs. A supply line can break to a plumbing fixture, a toilet fresh water tank can over flow and a dish washer or refrigerator can leak.
How to avoid fresh water basement flooding
Protecting your basement from a potential flood can be as easy as taking a few preventative steps. Because fresh water is the first type of the 3 types of water that cause basement flooding, you need to secure the areas of your home to increase your chances of avoiding this type of basement flooding.
One way is to install a water detection alarm that uses a 9 volt battery and will go off with a loud alarm when the presence of water is detected. Start by purchasing an alarm at a local hardware store near you, typically they are under $12.00 and one should be placed in strategic areas of your home.
Place one in each vanity so it will sound off and warn you if water starts to leak from a water line when it leaks. Also place one in your laundry room and each bath room behind the toilet. With these in place you will have created a practical environment of detection that can spare you basement from one of the 3 types of water that cause basement flooding.
The 2nd type of water that causes basement flooding
This 2nd type of water become a bit more destructive as it has a higher level of impurity because it originates from a contaminated water source such as ground water that exists outside your home. This is the water that is typically always present outside your home that becomes more abundant when it rains or snow thaws. It is also referred to as Category 2 Water – Water that originates from the ground and contains contaminates that immediately pose a substantial threat to humans and is also known as “grey water”. Refers to a source of water that contains a significant degree of chemical, biological or physical contaminants and causes discomfort or sickness when consumed or even exposed to. This water carries microorganisms and nutrients of microorganisms and are abounding with life that grows fast when brought into contact with a basement environment. Of the 3 types of water that cause basement flooding, grey water is 2nd in the line of severity for its contamination level.
Examples of gray water flooding a basement
Examples from the upstairs of a home would be toilet bowls that overflow with urine (no feces), dish washers that leak during the cleaning cycle, washing machine discharge lines, and aquarium water that somehow manages to escape and make its way to the basement. Examples of grey water coming into the basement from the basement would be, a sump pump failure, a rod hole leak, a crack in the wall that seeps, and any foundation leak. Finished basements will have added opportunity to experience one of the 3 types of water that cause basement flooding when they have bath rooms or bar sinks. These have p-trap assemblies that carry water from the drain to the sanitary line. Should they leak with water that is used for cleaning hands, floors and surfaces that will make the water grey and can flood basements if they leak.
How to avoid grey water basement flooding
As with the suggestions for avoiding the first of the 3 types of water that cause basement flooding, the recommendations are the same for grey water. Place the same type of alarm by your sump pump, around any open drain and by the lowest point if it would not be in the way. This way at the first contact with unwanted water the alarm goes off letting you know there is an issue before it completely floods your basement. Just remember to replace the batteries once a year to keep them operating at their optimal performance.
Another preventative step is to make sure you do not allow any loose debris or clothing to block any drains so if water does inundate your basement it will at least not accumulate because the drain can remove the water as fast as it comes in.
The 3rd type of water that causes basement flooding
The 3rd and last type of water that can create basement flooding is also the most destructive as it has the highest level of contamination because it originates from a sewer drain or sanitary line. It is pathogenic, contains high levels of bacteria and gross amounts of viruses. This is the water that is typically always present inside the sewer drain system to your home and is replete with urine, feces and germs that can create a high risk environment in the home. It is also referred to as Category 3 Water – Water that originates from sewer drains, streams and lakes. It contains contaminates that immediately pose a substantial health threat to humans and is also known as “black water”. Of the 3 types of water that cause basement flooding, black water is the most severe for its contamination level.
There is no water more dangerous than water classified as “black water” and can create basement flooding that can produce mold in as little as 48 hours. This is not the mold that is already present the moment black water enters the basement through a sewer drain, but new mold that will manifest on wet dry wall, wood base and other materials.
Examples of black water flooding a basement
Several examples from the upstairs of a home would be toilet bowls that overflow with feces, vomit or other bodily discharges. Bath water that has languished for over 3 days, that somehow makes its way to the basement too would be classified as cat-3. A few examples of black water coming into the basement from the basement itself would be, a sump pump failure that has remained wet for over 3 days, a rod hole leak that has been happening slowly over time, a crack in the wall that seeps for more than 3 days, and any foundation leak that has gone undetected over 3 days. The most common way black water would create the worst of the 3 types of water that cause basement flooding, would be water backing up from a sewer drain. Often this happens after heavy rains that overload sewer systems with more water than they can manage.
Finished basement will have more potential to experience one of the 3 types of water that cause basement flooding than one that is not finished. A toilet in a basement can overflow with feces, vomit or other bodily fluids and bar sinks can backup with black water if they don’t have a vent.
How to avoid black water basement flooding
The best way to avoid this last type of the 3 types of water that cause basement flooding is to maintain sewer drain systems. Many older homes in cities of Macomb County like Warren, Sterling Heights, Roseville, St. Clair Shores, Eastpointe, Macomb, Shelby, Clinton Twp. and Fraser have outdated sewer drain systems. These drain systems were made from deteriorating materials such as clay and over time they crack and become clogged by tree roots. If you have a plumbing professional snake out the system it will stay clean in most cases for a year.
Oakland county as well has many older homes in cities such as Bloomfield Hills, Berkley, Birmingham, Royal Oak, Huntington Woods, Madison Heights and Troy with the same problems and regular maintenance of these sewers is recommended as well and will keep sewer water flowing freely reducing the chances of a backup.
Some of the oldest cities in Southeast MI are Grosse Pointe, Harper Woods and Dearborn and experience drain backups often after heavy rains. Fortunately these areas have local plumbers available for sewer drain cleaning and most will gladly place you on a yearly maintenance program for an affordable rate.
3 Types of Water That Cause Basement Flooding
What we have learned is that basements can and flood anytime with either fresh water, grey water or black water. These are the 3 types of water that cause basement flooding, but resourceful homeowners by being proactive can greatly reduce their chances of a flooded basement and enjoy their homes by a little bit of prevention. If you do have a flooded basement check out our article on cleaning up a flooded basement.