Metro-East News

Soaked: Stores selling out of sump pumps; basement repair companies flooded

After torrential rains on Sunday and Monday, many homeowners in the metro-east were dealing with water-filled basements.

Helitech, a metro-east basement water-proofing company, received more than 200 phone messages from homeowners with wet basements before 8 a.m. Monday.

Tim Meyer, territory manager for Helitech, was scheduled for a vacation day on Monday, but after the soaking rains it was “all hands on deck.”

“This is very unusual for December,” Meyer said. “About 10 years ago, we had heavy rains in December, but in my 18 years in the business, I have never seen anything like this.”

This is very unusual for December.

Tim Meyer, territory manager for Helitech

Meyer advised homeowners who find water in their basements to check to make sure gutters and downspouts aren’t blocked and that sump pumps are plugged in.

If that doesn’t resolve the issue, Meyer said a call to a basement water-proofing contractor may be the way to resolve it.

There could be water coming over basement window sills, through cracks in the floor or other areas.

“When the ground is this saturated, water can come up between the basement walls and floors, then you need someone like us to resolve that problem,” Meyer said.

Estimators will be in contact with homeowners in five to seven business days, Meyer said. He said he hoped that homeowners would be patient because of the high number of people seeking help.

Meantime, homeowners can also try to minimize damage with pumps, vacuums and fans.

With all this water, Meyer said it’s going to be tough to dry things out for a while.

Sump pumps were in high demand on Monday. Pumps were being shipped in to area hardware stores. Belleville’s Home Depot was out of them on Monday morning, but expected a shipment in the afternoon. Edwardsville Home Depot was also out of sump pumps but was hoping for a shipment on Monday. The Edwardsville Lowe’s also was expecting an emergency shipment on Monday. The Shiloh Lowe’s was out of them as well and didn’t expect any Monday.

Ace Hardware at 400 N. Illinois St. in Belleville had a few sump pumps left late Monday morning. Jason Mitchell, a sales associate, said they had a couple different models, but didn't know how long they would last.

“We aren’t expecting a truck until later this week,” Mitchell said.

The Better Business Bureau warned homeowners to watch out for unlicensed or storm-chasing contractors, seeking to cash in on damage. Michelle Corey, BBB president and CEO, advised homeowners to check out businesses and contractors before writing a check. BBB business reviews give consumers information about how companies operate and whether they respond to complaints.

“Homeowners need to be sure that a contractor will honor promises and not just take their money and run,” Corey said. “Consumers need to make sure that the contractors are qualified and reliable before they sign a contract or pay any money.”

Beth Hundsdorfer: 618-239-2570, @bhundsdorfer

If you are dealing with basement flooding, you should immediately check to make sure the electrical and “slip-and-fall” hazards are resolved. Only do activities that are safe for you to perform. Remember, wet materials can be very heavy.

Do: Clean up the excess water by mopping and blotting. Wipe excess water from wood furniture. Remove and prop wet upholstery and cushions. Place aluminum foil or wood blocks between furniture legs and wet carpeting. Gather loose items from floors.

Don’t: Leave wet fabrics in place. Don’t leave books, magazines or other items on wet carpet or floors. Don’t use your household vacuum to remove water. Don’t use television or other household appliances if they are on a wet surface.