How to dry a flooded basement June 13, 2018 – Posted in: Air Movers, Blog, Dehumidifiers
Basements are dark, dank, and downright creepy… at least that’s what comes to mind whenever we hear that word. But that shouldn’t actually be the case. While most areas of your home should be free of moisture, this is especially true for basements as they tend to be heavily affected by water damage. Even something as small as a leak or a spill could have a devastating effect on your home such as the growth of harmful mold. Just imagine how much more catastrophic it would be if you’ve got a flooded basement. Mold isn’t the only thing you’d have to worry about.
So, what does one do if the basement is flooded? Well, the first thing you should NOT do is panic. While cleaning a flooded basement can seem intimidating, it’s easy to get the job done if you’ve got a plan. And if you don’t, we’ve got one for you.
Why Your Basement Flooded
There are a number of reasons why there’s water in your basement. People will tell you that basements are naturally damp places. This is definitely true simply because of how unrelentless water is. Condensation is one-way water can enter your basement.
This occurs when warm, moist air meets the cool spots inside your home such as foundation walls or uninsulated water pipes. When the moisture in the air condenses, you get droplets or even puddles. While it doesn’t really have a flood-inducing effect, condensation is still going to create small pools of water in your basement if left unchecked.
Another cause of soggy basements is a runoff. Runoff is when rainwater that was not effectively diverted away from your house due to clogged gutters and downspouts or a lack thereof. This can result in too much water seeping into the ground right near the base of your home’s foundation. And, due to hydrostatic pressure, this water will be forced through the gaps and cracks in the walls and floors of your home.
The last potential cause of flooding in your basement is subsurface penetration which is just a cool way of saying the groundwater level is high. A lot of homes are built on clay soil which does not drain well at all. What this means is that water from rain or melted snow does not filter water out quickly enough that it stays trapped in the ground.
The very same ground that your house has its foundation in. When water accumulates around your foundation, it’s only a matter of time (a.k.a. hydrostatic pressure again) before it starts to slip through the cracks and porous materials of your walls and floor.
Flooded Basement Cleanup
Step 1: Remove the water.
The goal when quick drying an area is to prevent water damage as well as to stop the growth of mold. Speed is the key to salvaging your space and belongings. And it’s not just because of water damage. According to FEMA, mildew and mold can grow on a damp surface within 24 to 48 hours. This is why it is important to act quickly in the face of a leak or a flood. The very first thing you’ll need to do is to Immediately get rid of any water in the area, whether that’s with a wet/dry vac, a portable sump pump, or even something as simple as using buckets to move the water outside.
Just remember that you will need to empty out the water frequently if you use a vacuum or a bucket. With a sump pump (or a bucket too), you’ll need to make sure that the water is emptied out far away from your home. Otherwise, you’re just placing it back where it started.
Step 2: Remove all your belongings.
Once the water is removed, you’ll want to clear out your basement for two reasons. One, it will help you assess which of your belongings are salvageable and which ones are not (i.e. soaked carpeting). Two, it will provide you with ample space to do the next steps in getting your basement back to normal. You may want to get help from friends and family in hauling your stuff out because you need to be done disinfecting and drying out all your stuff AND your basement in 48 hours or less.
Step 3: Start cleaning.
Give your walls and floor a good scrub with warm soapy water or spray them with Pine Oil mixed with bleach. Make sure that your basement is well-ventilated. Open up the windows to let fresh air inside but only if the humidity is lower outside. Use fans to get the air moving.
Step 4: Start drying.
As soon as the water is removed, use an air mover to quickly dry the area completely. B-Air®, BlueDri™, and Soleaire® are all excellent brands to choose from for an effective air mover, with a wide range of sizes and power levels. This part of the process is very important, as floors and walls can often absorb moisture and collect it in pockets out of sight. This will most certainly lead to mold growth under floorboards and behind drywall, which can cause colossal damage to your home and belongings. This is one reason why we recommend having an air mover on hand at all times. It can help prevent the serious damage that floods can cause. Residential-sized air movers are ideal for these types of jobs.
Another essential tool to have in your arsenal is a compact dehumidifier. This will help eliminate excess moisture in the air that is left over after the flood. Even after completely drying your basement, there will be moisture left behind in the air which can still cause damage to walls and furniture. Not to mention, it will still be able to create the ideal environment for mold to grow.
Step 5: Look for mold.
We did say that mold can start to grow within 24 hours, right? To be safe, check the walls and floor of your basement. Make sure that mold hasn’t started to grow before you were done cleaning the flooded basement. The same goes for your belongings before you bring it back into the basement. Make sure to clean and disinfect any of your personal items made of porous materials such as books, papers, furniture, rugs, bedding, and clothes. Use the pine-oil cleaner. Once completely dry, you can start returning the items back where they belong. If you’re in doubt about whether an item is contaminated or not, experts recommend that you throw it out. Better safe than sorry, right?
Prevent Basement Flooding
Finally, the very last thing you step you should take after fixing basement flooding – take precautions to ensure that this never happens again. Whether its condensation, runoff, or subsurface penetration, these “floodproofing” tips we’ve listed below should keep you and your basement dry for all the rainy and humid days to come.
Tip 1: Get rid of excess humidity.
Insulate your cold pipes with foam to prevent condensation. Closeout any leaks from your dryer vents using foil tape and install an industrial dehumidifier to ensure that all sources of humid air are eliminated. Damp-proofing your walls with a waterproof coating is another effective solution. During fall and winter, turning up the heat in your basement can also prevent condensation.
Tip 2: Keep water away from your foundation.
Check your gutters and downspouts regularly so that they remain unclogged. If you don’t have these, install them. Make sure that the downspout slopes an inch per foot away from the house, totaling a distance of 4 feet. This ensures that the water drains 4 feet away from your house instead of directly on the foundation.
Tip 3: Install a drainage system.
This can be a costly step but one that can ensure that any basement leaks are permanently eliminated. You may want to consult a professional with this one.
Basements are areas that are more difficult to dry and pose the greatest risk if a flood causes structural damage. Protecting your house against possible flooding and having an air mover on hand are the best ways to tackle these unfortunate circumstances.