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Chicago Basement Flooding: A Step-by-Step Guide for 2024

If you think it rained more than usual this year, you’re right.

The data is in on Chicago flooding in 2023. Torrential rains flooded Cook County early summer, and the President approved a disaster declaration for the region.

You can count on it happening again this year.

You can’t stop the rain, but you can be prepared. Based on our years as Chicago’s basement flood cleanup experts, we offer this 2024 guide for dealing with floodwater in your home’s basement.

Why Do Chicago Basements Flood?

basement flooding in chicago home

When it rains in Chicago, it usually pours. Wet weather can drop 2 inches or more on the city in just an hour. The Department of Water Management’s flood control efforts deal with drainage systems that are more than 100 years old.

Factor in these additional problems, and you have a perfect storm for basement flooding in Chicagoland.

1. Impervious Cover

Best estimates cover 42% of Cook County with hard surfaces that prevent rainfall from soaking into the ground. Parking lots, driveways and streets drain directly into the city’s sewer system.

2. Overwhelmed Sewer Lines

Chicago sewer backups are often a source of floodwater in home basements. Even with ongoing improvements, heavy rain fills up the lines, and that pushes water into basements.

3. Curb Drains

The grated drains we see along our streets feed directly into sewer mains through a network of lateral pipes. This adds logistical challenges to system repairs that address more than 4,400 miles of sewer mains.

4. Private Drains and Downspouts

Original City code required downspouts to be connected to municipal sewer lines. Every gallon of rain that falls on a roof empties into the sewer system and potentially backs up into basements.

Is a Flooded Basement Dangerous?

When Chicago flooding fills your home’s basement with water, think twice before heading down the stairs. Standing floodwater poses these ongoing dangers and long-term hazards.

Electrocution Risks – Many components of a home’s electrical system are located in the basement. Never go down in to a wet basement without first turning off the power.

Black Water Contamination – Floodwater contains sewage, fungi and bacteria that cause serious illnesses . This type of contamination makes the basement very dangerous.

Extensive Mold Growth – Mold grows rapidly in a flooded basement and releases unhealthy airborne spores. The microscopic organisms can cause serious respiratory issues.

Foundation Problems – Flood damage in the basement creates tiny fissures that weaken supporting concrete walls. Over time, the house can shift on the deteriorating foundation.

Structural Issues – Wet materials in a finished basement wick moisture upward through the house. This can compromise the structural integrity of overhead framing and drywall.

How to Restore Your Basement After a Chicago Flood

chicago basement water removal

Dealing with floodwater in the basement is never a DIY job. As we’ve noted, flooding creates a dangerous environment, but it has to be taken care of right away. Otherwise, floodwater damage spreads and causes long-lasting problems.

However, there are two important things you need to do immediately.

1. Turn off electricity to the basement

If the breaker box is located downstairs, call an electrician, or contact ComEd. Once the electricity is off, unplug basement appliances, including the sump pump.

2. Contact ServiceMaster of Lake Shore, Chicago’s trusted water damage restoration company

The best water damage pros are always available 24/7. Give us a call and explain the situation.

The following six steps outline what you can expect when our technicians arrive to clean up your flooded basement.

3. Inspection and Action Plan

The team leader inspects the extent of damage in your basement. He or she explains how the technicians plan on taking care of the situation and also answers any questions you might have.

4. Floodwater Extraction

Cleanup begins by removing floodwater from the basement with truck-mounted water extraction equipment. This pumping and vacuuming process is highly effective in quickly clearing out standing water.

5. Mold and Efflorescence Remediation

Mold and efflorescence are addressed through a specialized remediation process. Using industry-certified products and techniques, the cleanup team treats all basement surfaces to eliminate any chances of unhealthy fungal growth.

6. Structural Drying

Next, the technicians set up heavy-duty equipment that speeds up the drying process. High-volume centrifugal air movers, aerodynamic axial fans and dehumidifiers with hygroscopic desiccants all work together to ensure structural drying throughout the wet basement.

7. Cleanup and Decontamination

Floodwater remediation addresses all surfaces and materials. After thorough cleaning, the entire basement is treated with industry-approved disinfecting products. This eliminates microbial contamination and odor-causing bacteria.

8. Reconstruction and Restoration

All water-damaged materials are cleared out to make room for the reconstruction phase. In finished basements, this last step includes water-damaged drywall, baseboard and flooring.

Once tear-outs are complete, teams finish the job by completely restoring the basement to its pre-flood condition.

How Long Does It Take to Dry Out a Flooded Chicago Basement?

servicemaster chicago drying out wet basement

Drying out a flooded basement can take from several days to several weeks. If you’re dealing with extensive basement flooding, consider bringing in a Chicago water damage restoration company like ServiceMaster of Lake Shore.

Our certified technicians work quickly and efficiently using advanced equipment that greatly reduces drying time. We handle everything, including cleanup, tear-out and mold removal and remediation.

How Do I Stop My Chicago Basement From Flooding?

Your best defense against water damage downstairs is knowing how to prevent basement flooding. These tips can make a big difference in keeping the downstairs dry during Chicago’s next downpour.

• Routinely inspect foundation walls for cracks, and take care of repairs right away.
• Make sure foundation and floor drains are in good repair and clog-free.
• Regularly test the sump pump to make sure it’s operating properly.
• Follow the city’s recommendations for disconnecting downspouts from the sewer system.
Install well covers over basement windows, and keep window drains clear.
• Consider reworking the grade of your landscaping to prevent basement flooding.

Has Your Chicago Basement Flooded? We Can Help!

servicemaster van

Heavy rains can drench Chicago homes any time of year, so we want you to be prepared now and ready for flooding.

If you’re currently dealing with water downstairs, you need emergency flooding services. Call ServiceMaster of Lake Shore today!

We’re proud of our rating as the best Chicago flooded basement company. We can’t stop the rain, but we can clean and completely restore your basement. Our teams are ready for your call: 312-707-8597