With the recent weather we’ve been having in the Willamette Valley, many people have had to deal with flooded basements. Before you enter a flooded basement, make sure that the electricity is turned off, preferably at the meter. The natural gas valve should be turned off as well. Check for cave-ins at the basement walls or other structural damage. If you need to pump water from the basement and you don’t have electricity use a gas-powered pump. Be careful using an electric pump that uses your own electrical system, this can be potentially very dangerous. If possible use an external electric source. Pumping out a lot of water needs to be done slowly. The water in the basement helps to support the walls from the pressure of heavy water logged soil pushing against the walls. If you pump out the water too fast, the outside pressure will be greater than the inside pressure and may cause the basement walls or floor to crack or rupture. In severe cases your house could float like a boat that is buoyed by displacement. The same reasoning applies to a septic tank. It could try to float out of the ground and may damage the inlet and outlet pipes, if emptied too quickly. After the water has receded you may not be sure about potential structural damage. If you suspect structural damage, have a structural engineer give you an assessment and recommendations to fix any problems. If you have a finished basement, floors and walls can get damaged quickly and mold problems can develop over time. Call your contractor for repairs and for ideas on how to reduce the water damage the next time the weather becomes severe.