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HELP! Basement HT room flooded! (1 Viewer)

Jesse Blacklow

Senior HTF Member
Oct 14, 2002
Moderators, feel free to move this if necessary.

Well, I went away for the long weekend, despite the nasty weather. When I came home tonight I went downstairs to check on my HT (which is located in the basement) and I found out the basement door drain had clogged, water-logging the carpet of about 1/2 of the room. I don't know if there was standing water or if it just got soaked. Regardless, this is really, really bad.

First of all, I'm renting the house, so I'm under the assumption that I'm responsible for the damage--even though this drain didn't get clogged even during the winter storms, including 18+" of snow. I don't have renter's insurance either. There's small but noticeable stains (almost like bleach) in some places, but no bad mildew on the wall yet. Second, but only a little less scary is the fact that a bunch of my AV equipment (HK AVR325, Dreamcast, antenna amp) and my power bar were on the carpet (i.e. not on stands or racks). By some weird stroke of luck and incredible caution on my part, nothing was--or has been since--plugged in to the wall since I left Friday, and I had moved my computer upstairs, but that's the only good news.

So, first question: Does anyone with any similar experience know what happens, vis-a-vis my landlord? I'm calling him tomorrow to let him know what happened, but I don't know what to say or do. If the landlord is at fault in any way (which I doubt), can I be compensated for the damaged equipment?

Second question: How do I dry my AV stuff off? The AVR325 is my primary concern, because even though it's raised slightly by the feet, I know there has to be at least condensation, if not actual water damage (I don't know if there was any standing water or not). Is this something I should take to a professional?

charles mix

Stunt Coordinator
Sep 24, 2002
Landlord issue. Each state is different. I suggest calling the courthouse and ask for landlord/tenant law info.

Let your equipment dry out for a couple of days in a dry area or in the sun. If it was not plugged in you should be OK. I would also suggest buying several DampRid containers and putting them in you basement to help absorb some the ambient moister. Hope this helps. Good luck.

Evan M.

Supporting Actor
Feb 26, 2002
A drain?!? I am not sure what good a drain is going to do for a basement if the water table is too high. I don't understand the physics. The landlord should have some kind of sumpump installed that takes care of this problem. I am not sure what the normal climate is in Virginia but up here in Maine a basement without some type of subpump is just begging for trouble. I would certainly talk to the building codes dept. in your area and look for any landlord/tenant laws in that area like the above poster said. It sounds like to me the landlord is at least a little resposible. Maybe I misread your post. At any rate the best thing you can do for your equipment is to let it dry naturaly in a low humid area of the house for a good week. I personaly would even wait longer to stay on the safe side. Water has an uncanny ability to stick around and collect in little crevases. The inside of a receiver has a million places for water and codensation to stay and collect. Good luck and I am sorry for your unexpected mess.

Mark Dickerson

Stunt Coordinator
May 10, 2003

It is true that all states have different laws, but there are a few matters I can comment on, as an attorney, and not as advice, but general observations. I had a very good friend of mine go through this several years back and we learned a great deal about this problem.

First, you have explained that the flood was the result of a clogged drain, but how did it get clogged? If this is a drain on the floor of the basement (not in a basement shower, etc., which may be clogged from your use and you would have a duty to keep clear), and it is clogged because of a structural failure, then the landlord's insurance may cover your damages. However, your state may also allow insurance companies to exclude basements from coverage (common), in which case you are out of luck. However, I recommend that you notify your landlord IMMEDIATELY! As a renter, under the common law (court-made, not statutory) you have an obligation to the landlord to notify him/her immediately of this type of damage to the property so that he/she can take steps to minimize the damage. Mildew is forming as we speak and the landlord will have to get a team out there to disinfect (Clorox works great) the basement. Right now, the biggest issue in homeowner's insurance is "toxic mold" and you do not want to make yourself liable for failing to notify the landlord.

As for what to say to the landlord, don't assume your are responsible. I am not there, so I can't say, but I would never assume responsibility unless you know that you did something to cause the flood. I would simply call him/her and explain that you went out of town and came back to discover a flood in the basement. (That is all you know!) Tell him/her you need help right away with the clean-up. Then let the landlord take the steps to protect the property and you worry about your personal property.

You say you don't have renter's insurance, so you have no coverage. Most renter's policies, like most homeowner's policies, specifically exclude coverage for "rising water" anyways, which is your situation. That means you need flood insurance (something most people don't know). In sum, you don't have any coverage, and it is a long shot that your landlord's coverage would cover you (although it never hurts to ask!)

As for your gear, if I were in your situation, I would pop the cover of my AVR and put it in a window where it will get some good sun for a day or two. Then, get a can of compressed air (computer stores sell this stuff) and blow out the corners and crevices. Let the gear continue to sit open for at least a week, in the sun, where the water can evaporate. Evan is right, two weeks would be better. If you are running your air conditioner, set the temp a bit higher while the unit dries out. Oh, and at night, I would put the AVR on a towel and put it on its side, to let any water drain out.

Good luck to you. I really feel for you.

Mark Hedges

Second Unit
Mar 21, 2003
Look I hate to be a jerk but the first rule of living in a basement is NEVER EVER EVER set anything valuable directly on the floor. ALWAYS assume that the basement will flood at some point.

Now that's over with, I don't think you will have a whole lot of legal recourse. Most leases are pretty well written to protect the landlord from liability for the tenant's property. That is why they have renters insurance. But as already been stated, most renters insurance policies do not cover water damage.


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