Pumping out the cellar yourself – you must take this into account

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Written By Maya Cantina

Floods were considered a fairly rare weather event in Germany. However, due to climate change, this will become more frequent and even more intense in the future. Saarland and Rhineland-Palatinate are currently particularly affected: Heavy rainfall has led to flooding there in recent days and several cellars are flooded. How do you get rid of the water?

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Pumping out the cellar yourself – what you need to know

Want to pump out your cellar yourself?

This depends on various factors. It is important to first find out where the water comes from, explains Frank Hachemer, vice president of the German Fire Brigade Association (DFV). Because: “It could be something internal, for example if a line is broken. But it can also come from outside, because it rains heavily or because a body of water quickly overflows its banks,” says Hachemer. In the latter case, you should definitely not go to your basement, because the situation can quickly become very dangerous.

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“But if there is only a few centimeters of water in the cellar and there is no danger, you can usually pump it out yourself,” explains Beate Dalkowski-Orth of the Technical Assistance Organization (THW) of the Bremen and Lower Saxony Regional Association. . “It’s annoying and annoying, but necessary,” says Hachemer. During heavy storms, the fire brigade is called for serious emergencies and cannot deal with relatively harmless cases or can only deal with them much later.

How do you pump out your basement?

There are a few steps you need to take before you start clearing the basement. The first thing to check is whether there is still electricity in the basement. “Water conducts electricity and penetrating the basement can be life-threatening,” Hachemer explains.

Persistent rain floods Saarland

According to the State Bureau for Environmental and Occupational Safety, this is a flood that only occurs once every 20 to 50 years.

You should then get an idea of ​​the situation. It is useful if you have flashlights or something similar at hand. The next question that arises is whether you can solve the problem yourself or whether you need the fire brigade for this. It is also important to know which phase of the flood you are in. “If the danger has not yet been averted, you should not start removing water from the basement,” Hachemer warns. If you’re not sure, it’s better to ask the experts.

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Only then should you – if possible – start making the basement free of water. One thing to keep in mind, according to Hachemer, is that appliances such as pumps also require electricity. It is useful to have a long cable on hand here, as the electricity in the basement will need to remain turned off until qualified personnel have determined safety.

What equipment is useful to dry the basement?

What you ultimately use to dry your basement also depends on the amount of water. If there is only a hand’s breadth of water in the basement, a wet vacuum cleaner can help. “A dirty water pump can usually only be used when the water is already higher,” says the expert.

For the remaining water, a bucket and a cloth are often sufficient, explains Dalkowski-Orth from THW. Hachemer also calls for your own preparation: “If you want to do more to help yourself, you should always find out how it works when purchasing equipment and not just in an emergency, so that you can respond in an emergency.”

What can be dangerous?

If there is only a little water in the basement, try pumping out your basement yourself. “The fire brigade cannot help at all if there is little water, because their pumps are not designed for such small amounts of water,” says Hachemer. However, a number of things must be taken into account. “In general, the water and electricity in the basement can be dangerous,” the expert explains. Objects that are thrown around in the water and are not immediately visible can also pose a problem.

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But under the right circumstances, things can get even worse. This depends, among other things, on the amount of water, the type of water that comes in and which building you are in. “Even the static properties of older homes can be affected by large amounts of water, even putting the home at risk of collapse,” says Hachemer. In such cases, the fire brigade would request further support and specialists.

When should you call the fire brigade?

“If there is a lot of water in the basement, the water runs down and there is a particular risk of the water coming into contact with the power supply, it is better to call the fire brigade and describe the situation,” advises Dalkowski -Orth . This is especially true if the incoming water is dirty. In general, “When in doubt, it is better to call the fire brigade once too often than once too little,” says Hachemer.

What else should you pay attention to?

During floods, accidents often happen because people enter their basements even though it is too dangerous. Hachemer therefore recommends not storing valuables in the basement. This does not only apply to houses at risk of flooding. In general, in all cases of doubt, you should not go into the cellar, even to save something. “Human lives always come first,” says the vice president of the German Fire Brigade Association.

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We last updated this article on May 19, 2024.

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