News and Tribune

August 6, 2009

Expert gives advice on pumping water for Southern Indiana residents


While floodwaters can ruin a home’s basement, pumping out the water can cause more problems if not done correctly, says Steve Cain, Purdue University Extension disaster communications specialist, in a news release.

“Removing all of the water at once may cause serious structural damage to the house,” Cain said. “Draining the water too fast could cause the collapse of the cellar walls, floors and foundation of the house.”

Water should be drained slowly to equalize pressure on both sides of the walls, he said.

Cain suggested the following steps when pumping water from a basement:

• Begin pumping when floodwaters are no longer covering the ground outside;

• Pump water away from the home to avoid it flowing back in;

• Pump out 1 foot of water, mark the water level and wait overnight;

• Check the water level the next day. “If the level went back up and covered your mark, it is still too early to drain your basement,” he said;

• Wait 24 hours and then pump the water down 1 foot again. Check the level the next day;

• When the water in the basement stops returning to the mark, pump out 2-3 feet and wait overnight; and

• Repeat the above step daily until all the water is out of the basement.

For additional flood recovery information, read the Purdue Extension publication “First Steps to Flood Recovery.” The publication is available at county offices of Purdue Extension, by calling the toll-free Purdue Extension hotline at 888-EXT-INFO (398-4636) or online at