Why did my basement flood?

By Marie Lamberson, Foundation Systems of Michigan, Livonia, MI

Metro Detroit’s historic rainfall event that occurred on August 11, 2014, has damaged homes across many counties in southeast Michigan. According to weather authorities, this storm was one of the heaviest single rainfall totals in Detroit weather history, with over 5 inches of rainfall in some areas, in just a few hours time.

Thousands of homeowners are now faced with flooded and leaking basements and crawl spaces, and are left to deal with a large clean-up effort, as well as possible health concerns.

With storms of this nature, many homeowners are left wondering “Why did my basement leak?”  There are a number of reasons why a basement might leak or flood.

Foundation drainage failure – Most homes have a drainage system around them. This serves to move water away from the foundation. Water can enter a home when that drainage system is clogged or deteriorated.  Sometimes tree roots are the culprit, other times dirt and sediment will cause the blockage.  When this occurs, ground water around the foundation gets too high and may enter the basement through cracks in the basement walls or floors, or through the wall/floor joint.

Seepage -  If the water table rises, water can find its way in through cracks, and holes. Improper grading around the home and downspouts not properly taking run-off water far enough from the home can increase the amount of water.

Sump pump failure - Sump pumps, when working properly, will pump excess water away from the home. However, if a pump is overwhelmed with water, a single pump may not be powerful enough to keep up with the high volume of water that can pour in during heavy rain, and a secondary pump becomes necessary.  Clogged sump pumps and switches can also cause problems. Sump pits that do not have a lid can fill with dirt and debris, which can cause a sump pump and its switches to clog. Likewise, if you have a sump pump that sits straight against the bottom of a dirty sump pit its mechanical parts are liable to clog. Finally, a power loss can cause a sump pump to fail.  Often, the sump is unplugged, or a circuit trips. Also, power outages are very common with severe storms. 

Sewer System overload - Sewer systems, including storm and sanitary, are designed to move water away from your home. 

When these systems are overloaded during heavy rains, a backup can occur into a home. The water in the sewer system will overload the sewer with more water than it is able to hold, which will cause the water to back-up and enter a basement through a floor drain.

When homeowners have problems with flooding or leaky basements, the problems can sometimes seem overwhelming.  Homeowners should do some research and carefully consider whether to hire a professional, being cautious of businesses that are not insured or BBB Accredited.   


If your home has flooded and you aren’t sure of your next steps, please review these tips from Keith Meeker, SunGlo Restoration Services, Inc., Novi, MI - one of our A+ rated Accredited Businesses: 


  • Patience, by all means, patience.  Remediation companies are overwhelmed by all the homeowners needing their assistance.  They are all doing their level best to get to everyone. 
  • Next - Safety!  Water and electricity are not good friends and can be extremely dangerous.  You may not realize that the flooding has compromised your electrical system.  If you able to turn off your circuit breaker box before entering the water, all the better. 
  • Contaminated Water:  Know that there are a lot of things contained in basements and if the water has come through a sewer line or disturbed chemicals stored in the basement, they are now mixed in with the water.  Use precautions when wading into the water. 
  • Homeowner Responsibility:  The homeowner is responsible for getting as much of their possessions out of the flooding as possible, as early as possible.  So enlist family, neighbors to get your possessions out of the water as soon as possible. 
  • Contact Your Insurance Company Immediately:  Many insurance providers have very different ways of dealing with water remediation.  Get directly from your insurance company, what they need, what you should do (or not do) and try to establish a timeline.
  • Removing Water:  Use extractors, fans, wet/dry shop vacs once the flooding has receded to reasonable levels.  Then get as much air flow through the area as possible.  Turn on dehumidifiers, heaters, fans; anything that will take the moisture out of the air.  But again, be safe when using electrical appliances near water compromised areas. 

BBB Co-Op Advertising Programs - Exclusively for BBB Accredited Businesses


BBB Co-Op Advertising Programs - Exclusively for BBB Accredited Businesses


BBB Accredited Business Discount Card!
Thanks to the partnership between Office Depot® and Better Business Bureau, our BBB Accredited Businesses can now enjoy the benefits of our Store Purchasing Card Program.
• Over 1,100 retail store locations across the US.
• Find the supplies you need the same day, in store.
• Get discount services from our Copy & Print Depot™ . Some examples include:
Black & white copies ……….. $0.025 each.
Color copies …………………… $0.24 each.
Binding, folding, cutting …… 40% off the retail price.
• Choose from thousands of environmentally preferable products that help meet your green business’s goals.

BBB Accredited Business Discount Card!

Thanks to the partnership between Office Depot® and Better Business Bureau, our BBB Accredited Businesses can now enjoy the benefits of our Store Purchasing Card Program.

• Over 1,100 retail store locations across the US.

• Find the supplies you need the same day, in store.

• Get discount services from our Copy & Print Depot™ . Some examples include:

Black & white copies ……….. $0.025 each.

Color copies …………………… $0.24 each.

Binding, folding, cutting …… 40% off the retail price.

• Choose from thousands of environmentally preferable products that help meet your green business’s goals.

Seven Ways to Prevent Falls in Your Bathroom

Check out some great tips from our Senior Scene Sponsor MedicalCareAlert!

bathroom safety infographic
Infographic provided by Medical Care Alert

Five Free Ways to Prevent Falls

Fall prevention will remain critically important as our population becomes older. It’s estimated by the World Health Organization that by the year 2050, there will be 2 billion people over the age of 60.

Medical practices are improving, too, which means that the average 60 year old could live well into their 80’s. The risk for falling increases with age.

To help people to start thinking about fall prevention, here are five free things that you can do to help prevent falls.

Clean Your Surroundings:

People underestimate the power of having a clean living environment. Cleaning up trash in the area can go a long way to preventing falls, but also keeping things off the floor and making clear pathways as well. By keeping things picked up, you may never have to use medical alert bracelets for a fall.

Go Slower:

Yes, it’s quite possible to trip over your own feet. When you’re faced with walking over uneven areas or when there’s snow on the ground, take extra time to walk over it as slowly as you possibly can. If you do end up falling, use your medical alert system.

Remove the Rugs:

Rugs in the house offer plenty of chances to fall down and hurt yourself. A toe or two can slide underneath the surface of the rug, and the next thing you know, you’re reaching to press the button on your medical alert bracelet. Rugs might feel wonderful against the feet, but they may work better as wall hangings if they like to catch your feet.

Keep Things at Eye Level:

If you keep everything that you need between eye level and hip level, you lower the risk of falls. At this range, it’s easy to reach out and get items without bending. Leaning back or bending down shifts your center of gravity. That puts you at risk for a fall. However, sometimes we have no choice. If you fall down, use your medical alert system to call for help.

Close all Cabinets and Drawers:

Open cabinets are a ticket to bumped heads and bruised shins. Bumping your head on the edge of a cabinet door can cause disorientation that can lead to a fall. The most important thing is tidiness. Kitchens and bathrooms are the two hotspots for falls because they can get dirty quickly. One trip is all that it takes. Keep medical alert bracelets nearby just in case something happens.

Article by Charlie Kimball from MedicalCareAlert.com

Weird Al - he is Handy, but he’s not BBB Accredited!

BBB’s Checklist for Buying a New Car

Do the Legwork Before Visiting the Showroom to Save Money and Avoid Stress

A new vehicle is one of the most important big ticket items on a consumer’s shopping list, and Better Business Bureau says preparation can reduce the stress associated with financing and searching for the perfect car, truck or motorcycle.

There are many available choices and factors to take into account, and much of the legwork can be done before heading out to the showroom.

Here are some things you’ll want to take into consideration if you’re in the market for a new vehicle:

  • Determine your budget - This sounds straightforward, but there’s more to budgeting a new car purchase than just the monthly payment itself.  How good is the vehicle’s fuel efficiency?  Remember that your results may vary from EPA mileage estimates.  The website FuelEconomy.gov is a good resource for ‘real-world’ mileage data reported by car owners.
  • How much will insurance cost on the vehicle?  Contact your insurance agent for quotes on various models you may be considering.  How much will maintenance and repairs cost?   Online business reviews can give you a sense of which models are more expensive to repair. When considering monthly payments, use online calculators to see how different rates, down payments and loan terms can impact your payment.
  • Look at the big picture - Don’t become so focused on the monthly payment that you lose sight of the purchase price or total cost over the term of the loan.  Extending a loan from 60 months to 72 months for lower payments can translate into additional thousands of dollars over the life of the loan.
  • Explore financing options - Visit your local credit union or bank to see what interest rate they can offer, and consider getting pre-approved for a loan.  Having this information (or an offer) in hand will allow you to decide whether dealer financing is the best option for you, and gives the dealer a ‘target’ to match or beat.
  • Comparison shop online - You can get a price quote on a vehicle from most dealerships in a matter of hours, and then compare competing offers.  Websites such as Edmunds.com provide free information on what you can expect to pay for a particular model in your region, and can help you determine the value of your trade-in. 
  • Look for rebates - Many rebates are available, but some carry eligibility requirements that should be disclosed in advertising, such as loyalty bonuses, active duty military, trade-in bonuses, etc.  Make sure you understand these qualifications to avoid disappointment.
  • Understand leasing options - If you decide to lease a vehicle, make sure you’re clear on the terms of the lease, and the pros and cons as opposed to purchasing.  Leasing can mean driving a nicer car at a lower monthly payment than might be possible with a purchase, but if you drive more than about 12,000 miles a year or are concerned about “excess wear and tear” charges, leasing may not be the best option.
  • What’s the bottom line?  When looking at the price of a vehicle, remember that you will also pay fees for documentation, title and registration, along with applicable sales tax.

Visit bbb.org to obtain reports on individual dealerships to look for any pattern of complaints and how they responded to them. 

Online Reputation Management Starts with Good Customer Service


Your company may be doing the very best it can to provide a good product or stellar service but you could still end up with a disgruntled customer. BBB understands businesses aren’t able to make every customer or client happy. If you are in business, you are inevitably going to have a negative online review, a bad tweet or post in social media, or a BBB complaint. While it’s not possible to completely avoid these situations, it is possible to enhance a customer’s experience which can lower the chances of getting a negative comment and can even turn a dissenter into a fan.

According to a recent survey – the Customer-Rage Study, conducted by the University of Arizona’s W. P. Carey School of Business (www.go.bbb.org/1oxQleZ), consumers are still careful with their dollars post-recession and more aware of the type of customer service they receive when they do spend them. The ‘rage’ survey reported states badly-handled customer service is worse than no customer service at all.

People who receive poor customer service after a problem become 12 percent less brand loyal than if they didn’t bother to complain at all. So it would stand to reason that when a company receives a complaint or less than friendly review, a business owner, large or small, would want to ensure the situation is handled in the best manner possible.

The study also found that when companies added free remedies, even as small as an apology, to any other monetary relief they gave customers, satisfaction doubled from 37 to 74 percent. Sometimes customers need someone to just hear them, the trouble they are having and simply would like an apology from the business while the issue is resolved.

Acknowledging your customer’s complaint, apologizing and responding quickly with a quick, fair resolution, just might result in the customer telling others about the wonderful customer service at your company. And when it occurs online, you can get the good will of others who see how professionally you handled the situation.

Getting a complaint or a bad review isn’t the end of the world, and it can actually become an opportunity to show the customer and others how your company values their input. Business owners should take a moment to review their customer service policies and practices and make sure their employees are capable of keeping new and existing clients satisfied. Sometimes the apology is more valuable than the money invested for the refund. 

Learn more about protecting your online reputation by attending the BBB Event: Manage Your Online Reputation on June 18, 2014 from 8 am - 10 am in Southfield. More details and registration can be found here.

Memorial Day Reminder: How to Properly Display the American Flag

There can be confusion and questions about how to properly wear and display the American flag, especially around the summer holidays of Memorial Day and July 4th when many people want to display a flag.

Here is what the law says about using the American flag properly (PDF):

  • The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor, water or merchandise.
  • The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding or drapery. It should never be festooned, drawn back, nor up, in folds, but always allowed to fall free.
  • No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform.
  • The flag should never be used as a receptacle for receiving, holding, carrying or delivering anything.
  • The flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free.
  • The flag should not be draped over the hood, top, sides or back of a vehicle or of a railroad train or a boat.

Read more rules and regulations that govern flag display (PDF).