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Help! My Crawl Space Flooded! What Do I Do?

Your crawl space is flooded. You’re staring at 6 inches of water and wondering what to do.

Don’t worry – help is here.

At ServiceMaster of Lake Shore, we restore flooded crawl spaces in Chicago homes when it rains heavily, so we understand every aspect of the cleaning, drying, and repair process.

In this blog, we’ll walk you through how to clean and dry a flooded crawl space, how to prevent further damage to your home, and when to call a restoration company to help.

Let’s start now.

Before you Get Started

Set yourself up for success by doing these things before you start the crawl space repair:

  • Take safety precautions. Firstly, be aware of the risk of electrocution. If your crawl space has electricity, turn it off to avoid accidents. Secondly, wear appropriate personal protective equipment, such as water-resistant boots, gloves, and a face mask, to prevent exposure to contaminants in water, mold, and mildew.
  • Determine whether it’s minor or major flooding. Minor flooding, often less than an inch of standing water, can typically be detected through a damp or musty odor, isolated patches of dampness, or minimal water pooling in low-lying areas. Major flooding, on the other hand, is characterized by more than two inches of standing water covering a significant portion, if not all, of the crawl space. This condition might be accompanied by water damage to insulation, wiring, or structural elements, as well as visible mold growth. If you have minor flooding, you may be able to repair it on your own. In cases of major flooding or sewage backup, however, we recommend calling a water damage restoration professional for help. Removing raw sewage requires specialized gear, equipment, and techniques that only the pros have. 
  • Gather needed equipment. Before you get started, gather the tools and equipment you’ll need to restore the area. A submersible pump will help you drain standing water while a wet vacuum can help to pick up smaller pools and to dry the space out. A handheld moisture meter is a great way to make sure the area is dry, and you’ll need mops, buckets, and towels to sop up moisture. A few standing fans or dehumidifiers will also come in handy. 

What to Do When Your Crawl Space Floods

flooded crawl space

1. Determine Where the Water is Coming from

Determining the source of water in a flooded crawl space can be a daunting task. Start by examining the lowest point, as water tends to accumulate there. 

Look for any signs of water leaks, such as damp or discolored patches on the walls or floor. If you find leaks, track them back to their source, which could be a pipe or a crack in the foundation wall.

Should the water source not be immediately apparent, consider the weather conditions. If the flooding occurs after heavy rainfall, the issue may be poor drainage around your home’s foundation. 

Check your rain gutters and downspouts; they should be directing water at least 5 feet away from your house. 

Also, ensure the soil around your house slopes away from the foundation to deter water from pooling there. 

2. Drain the Water

Next, you’ll need to remove the water that’s collected in your crawl space. 

Here’s how: 

  • Use a submersible pump. Place the pump in the deepest part of the crawl space and discharge the water far away from your home.
  • A wet vacuum can be used for smaller amounts of water.

Please remember that water removal can be risky. If you’re not comfortable doing it yourself or if the water level is high, consider calling professionals.

3. Remove Wet Materials

crawl space heavy rain water flood

Once the water is gone, you’ll need to remove any wet materials in the crawl space. This may include insulation, boxes, or other items that may have gotten wet. 

Wet materials can harbor mold and mildew, leading to poor air quality and potential health risks. 

Always wear gloves and a mask when handling these materials.

4. Disinfect

After removing water and wet materials, it’s time to clean the area. 

Disinfecting not only kills bacteria and mold spores but also helps prevent future growth. You can use a commercially available disinfectant or make a solution yourself with one cup of bleach in one gallon of water. 

Spray the solution onto the surfaces and let it sit for 15-20 minutes before scrubbing the area clean. Always ensure you are in a well-ventilated space when working with bleach or other disinfectants.

5. Dry the Area

Now that the crawl space is clean, it’s essential to dry out the area to prevent mold and mildew. 

First, bring a portable humidifier into the crawl space. A large dehumidifier is likely sufficient if you have a small crawl space.

For a larger crawl space, though, consider renting a commercial-grade dehumidifier.

Once you’ve positioned the dehumidifier, set it to a level of 30-45% humidity, and allow it to run for several hours. Very wet crawl spaces could easily take 8-10 hours to dry.

To speed up the drying process, add warmth and airflow.

Place a small source of heat, like a lightbulb or space heater, inside the crawl space and position a few electric fans in areas where they can blow air across the crawl space’s damp surfaces.

This will help your dehumidifier work more efficiently and speed up drying.

It’s important to regularly check the humidity level and keep it below 50% to ensure the space remains dry long-term.

6. Call in a Water Damage Restoration Company

Call a professional restoration company like ServiceMaster of Lake Shore if you’re in the Chicago area.

A professional water damage restoration company will help dry the crawl space thoroughly and prevent further moisture-related problems.

When to Call in the Professionals


When faced with a flooded crawl space, many homeowners might be tempted to tackle the issue on their own. 

While a DIY approach is appropriate in some settings, it’s not always the best option. In some cases, the lack of specialized equipment and expertise on DIY jobs can lead to incomplete drying and hidden damage.

Because of this, we always recommend contacting a professional restoration company if there’s more than 2” of standing water in the crawl space, the water is contaminated, or you simply don’t feel you have the skills to tackle the job. 

Professional water damage restoration companies will thoroughly clean up, dry out, and restore your crawl space. They can also identify potential hazards and structural issues that you might overlook and make sure the job proceeds as smoothly as possible. 

Remember, the goal isn’t just to eliminate the visible water but also to address the underlying issues causing the flood and prevent future incidents, such as structural damage, mold and mildew growth, and issues related to excess humidity. 

Excess humidity can exacerbate crawl space flooding issues. When left unchecked, it encourages mold growth and can cause wood rot, compromising your home’s structure. A professional restoration company is uniquely equipped to address humidity issues during the restoration process and prevent further problems. 

How to Prevent a Flooded Crawl Space

1. Correct Existing Drainage Issues

Correcting any existing drainage issues is the most effective way to prevent a flooded crawl space.

Downspouts and gutters, for example, should direct excess rainwater away from the home. For them to work properly, though, they need to be clean, free of clogs, and in good repair.

2. Add Downspouts

Your gutters need to direct water far enough away from your home’s foundation. We recommend installing extensions at the base of your downspouts to extend the gutters and discharge water at least four feet from your home.

3. Install a Sump Pump

If you live in an older home or if your crawl space experiences routine flooding, you may need to install a sump pump. If you already have a sump pump in your crawl space, this is an excellent time to inspect it for proper function and installation.

4. Repair Foundation Cracks and Ensure Proper Grading

In addition to fixing drainage issues and installing a sump pump, you’ll also need to repair foundation cracks and ensure the grading around your home is adequate to direct water flow away from the house.

5. Fix Broken or Leaking Pipes

You’ll also need to fix broken or leaking pipes and hire a plumber to replace old, worn-out plumbing. 

While the plumber is there, you’ll also want them to inspect your water lines and repair or replace any pipes that are at risk of failing or have already developed leaks.

6. Install Flood Vents

Installing flood vents in your home can be a crucial step in preventing a flooded crawl space. 

These vents allow water to flow freely in and out of the crawl space during a flood, which prevents water pressure from building up and causing structural damage to the foundation walls. 

Without these vents, the increased hydrostatic pressure could lead to cracks in the foundation, compromising the overall stability and safety of the house. 

Additionally, flood vents can also prevent mold growth and even infestations, as they promote adequate air circulation, creating a healthier and cleaner home environment.

7. Clean Gutters Regularly

Regular gutter cleaning plays a pivotal role in preventing flooded crawl spaces. 

When gutters are clogged with leaves, twigs, and other debris, rainwater cannot flow freely to the designated downspouts. 

As a result, it spills over and accumulates around your home’s foundation. Over time, this excessive water can seep into the crawl spaces, flooding them and causing significant damage. 

By keeping your gutters clean and clear, you ensure water is directed away from your home, which keeps your crawl space safe from potential flooding.

8. Add a Vapor Barrier and Dehumidifier

A vapor barrier and a dehumidifier can prevent crawl space flooding and the consequent damage. 

The vapor barrier, a plastic or foil sheet, is installed to obstruct any ground moisture from seeping into the crawl space. This not only mitigates flood risk but also prevents the growth of mold and mildew that thrive in damp environments. 

The dehumidifier, meanwhile, extracts excess moisture from the air, maintaining an optimal humidity level and preventing crawl space water damage. 

Has your Crawl Space in Chicago, IL, Flooded? We Can Help!


If your Chicago crawl space has flooded, you shouldn’t have to wait for help. Here at ServiceMaster of Lake Shore, we specialize in water damage restoration and repair.

Whether you’re facing mild water damage or inches of standing water, our team can help you repair your space and get life back to normal.

Contact us today to get help with a flooded crawl space: (312) 707-8597


How much does it cost to repair a flooded crawl space?

There’s no hard-and-fast rule for how much it costs to repair a flooded crawl space. Variables like the size of your crawl space, the extent of the water damage, and the source of the flooding will impact the final price of your restoration job.

Will water in the crawl space go away?

You should never leave water in a crawl space to air dry. Instead, get proactive about removing the water and drying and dehumidifying the crawl space. Adding a dehumidifier, placing heat sources, and adding electric fans can expedite drying. Contact a professional restoration company that can provide commercial-grade drying services.

Is crawl space flooding covered by insurance?

Whether or not your homeowners’ insurance will cover the flooding depends on the source of the water damage. While most homeowners insurance policies will cover sudden, accidental water damage, water damage and flooding due to neglect and lack of maintenance are usually not covered. Contact your policyholder for specific details.

Why does my crawl space flood when it rains?

There are many reasons your crawl space could flood during or after heavy rain.

Here are a few of the most common:

1. Poor drainage

If your crawl space tends to flood during storms, it could be because of drainage issues stemming from faulty downspouts or gutters or improper grading around your home’s foundation.

Defective window wells can also cause drainage and flooding issues.

2. A malfunctioning sump pump

A sump pump’s job is to remove water, but if the sump pump is missing, defective, or improperly installed, rising groundwater can quickly seep into your crawl space and cause flooding.

In fact, groundwater is one of the more difficult problems to deal with during heavy rains. As the groundwater rises, it enters the crawl space through the surrounding soil.

This issue can also be exacerbated by melting snow and ice in the springtime.

3. Cracked or compromised foundations

Even if you have all the right systems in place to prevent water intrusion, a cracked or compromised foundation can invite flooding in your crawl space.

4. Broken or leaky pipes

Burst pipes are common during frigid winters.

If your home has old plumbing, your pipes are more vulnerable to breakage. If pipes burst in your crawl space, they can cause widespread flooding and water damage.

5. Sewage backup problems

Clogged or compromised sewage lines and overwhelmed sewage systems can cause your crawl space to flood with contaminated wastewater, creating a health hazard and a nightmare of a mess.

Is water in my crawl space after a heavy rain normal?

If you live in an older home or one with any of the issues mentioned above, it may be common to see water in your crawl space after heavy rain.

That does not, however, mean that water intrusion is normal or okay to ignore.

Water in the crawl space presents a series of potential dangers, including the following:

  • Permanent damage to your home’s foundation
  • Rot, mold, and mildew
  • Foul smells
  • Sagging floors
  • Increased risk of a pest infestation – termites, mice, and rats all love damp areas
  • Expensive repair bills and risks to your family’s health

As you can see, it’s essential to act quickly whenever there’s flooding