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DIY Basement Water Damage Cleanup And Gas Water Heater Leaks: What Should You Know

by April Carlson

If your natural gas water heater cracks, leaks and floods water all over your basement's flooring, you may wonder if it's safe to clean up the mess without professional help. Although it's possible for you to clean up your waterlogged basement, it may want to reconsider. The flooding water isn't the only thing you must worry about when a gas water appliance breaks down. The electrical appliances in your basement can cause a great deal of harm if they shock or injure you. In addition, the carbon monoxide fumes and other gases released by your water heater's gas lines can also place your health and home at risk for respiratory problems, fires and explosions. Before you attempt to clean up the water in your basement, keep the following information and tips in mind.

You Can Receive Dangerous Electrical Shocks 

The water in your basement can be dangerous if it contains components that convey electricity. Some of the appliances and electronics in your basement may still have the ability to transmit, hold or carry live electrical currents, even if they're turned off or unplugged. The appliances include washing machines, microwaves, chargers, and radios. If you attempt to remove the items, it's possible to receive electrical shocks that injure one or more areas of your body. In addition, attempting to ground the appliances or their wiring can be dangerous, especially if you don't use the right tools or techniques. 

You can also receive electrical shocks if you don't wear the right type of boots for the job. Sources recommend that you wear knee-length rubber boots with thick soles to insulate your body against any unseen electrical hazards. Regular footwear, such as sneakers and canvas shoes, may not insulate your body against electricity properly. 

You Can Accidentally Release Poisonous Gases Into the Home

If you manage to overcome the electrical obstacles in your basement, you might still endanger your home and family by accidentally releasing harmful gases from your water heater. If you move the tank to clean up the water, you may pull the line loose or rupture it. You may also slip on the damp flooring and knock over the tank. The methane gases released by the line may leak into the basement and eventually travel to the upstairs living quarters.

Methane can potentially trigger an explosion if it encounters heat, such as a lit match or hot stove. The gas can also take over the air in your home, which makes it difficult to breathe. You might become dizzy, experience headaches or pass out from the gas. It's also possible to experience carbon monoxide poisoning from the leaking gas.

If you smell a foul odor that resembles rotten eggs or sulfur, or if you hear a faint hissing sound emitting from the basement or walls of the home, avoid the basement and do the following things instead:

  1. Vacate the premises and property immediately, call the gas company and request that they shut off the gas supply lines to your home.
  2. Contact your electric company and have it turn off your power for you. Electricity can spark a fire or gas explosion, so you don't want to do so from the inside of the home.
  3. Contact a water damage cleanup company and schedule immediate services. You want to clean up the hazards as soon as the gas leak and home are safe. 

After you complete the steps above, replace your water heater with an appliance that alerts you of water and gas leaks. It's also a good idea that you install a gas leak detector inside every room, including the basement. 

For more information about cleaning up your wet basement safely, contact a water damage cleanup company today.