Today in Seattle and around the Pacific Northwest we had record-breaking rainfall today(about 5 inches of rain in 48 hours). At least it washed away the 2-3 inches of snow that we got on Saturday. But the heavy rain has left much damage in its wake, including wet and flooded basements.
Today we helped our neighbor get all of the water out of his basement; he was on his way to work when he noticed the water bubbling up from the drain. Thank goodness he had a huge Shop Vac, and that the power didn't go out. And that he caught this before he left for work and not when he came home. We must have dumped close to 200 gallons of water. (Geekbooks.com has a great, short video and some good information on how to deal with flooding, by the way).
This experience got me thinking more about basements. Perhaps I have an exaggerated fear/dislike of basements because I've never lived in a home that had one. But sometimes I wonder if people realize how dangerous they can be.
Here in Seattle, people love to use their basement as living space(master suites, home theaters, etc). But the fact is, with most older homes, basements were never meant to be used for much more than storage, laundry and furnace space.
As a Realtor, every week or so I see a home with basement rooms advertised as "bedrooms" that would not meet code. If there was flooding, or more likely, a fire, what if you need to exit your basement through a window? Can you fit through it? Is it painted shut? Is it too high up? Is there a huge shrub planted on the outside that blocks your exit? Does your basement even have a window or other means of escape?
Here in Seattle, new and remodeled basements must have windows that meet code (windows no higher than 44 inches from the floor, and an outside exit). But there are so many older homes out there that do not have basements that I would consider safe for my buyers to put their children to sleep in. Fire safety proponents advocate two exits for every room - makes a lot of sense!
So be careful out there, basement dwellers, and try to make your basement as safe as possible. For those of you who are looking to purchase a home with a basement, know what to look out for and please keep safety at the forefront.