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.
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.
6. Excess humidity
While humidity won’t cause large puddles of water, excess humidity in a crawl space can cause mold and mildew, compromising the building materials beneath your home.
Over time, mold and mildew growth in your crawl space will lower your home’s indoor air quality.
This is something to watch for after an initial episode of water damage.
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 in your crawl space. The faster you remove the water, the less damage your home will experience.
If your crawl space has flooded, you must remove the water immediately.
The most effective methods include using a wet-dry vacuum to suck the water up (this is only appropriate for mild water intrusion) or pumping the water out with a commercial pump.
You can also use a push broom to sweep out water. Again, this is only appropriate for crawl spaces with minimal flooding less than an inch deep.
If you’re using a commercial pump to remove water, place the suction hose into the water and direct the drainage house outdoors, away from your home’s foundation. Let the pump run until all the water is gone, repositioning the suction hose as needed.
How to Dry Out a Flooded Crawl Space
Once you’ve removed the water from your crawl space, you’ll need to dry the area. You can’t simply allow the site to air dry.
Since wood soaks up moisture quickly and cool surfaces like concrete (common in crawl spaces) retain water longer than other materials, moisture will remain even after the standing water has been removed.
With that in mind, follow these steps to dry your flooded crawl space:
1. Prepare the area
Before you begin drying the crawl space, make sure you remove all visible mold and molded materials.
Throw away anything irreparably damaged by the water, or hire a team to provide professional pack-out services.
You should also double-check the crawl space to ensure there are no lingering puddles and that the flow of water has stopped.
Next, clean all the surfaces inside the crawl space. This critical step will help discourage the spread of mold and prevent your dehumidifier from getting clogged up in the process.
You’ll also want to check for wiring damage or other issues that would make further drying your crawl space unsafe. If the water damage is severe, you’ll need to hire an electrician to complete this step.
Next, 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.
4. 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.