How To Clean Up A Wet Basement

With Time It Gets Worse

The tendency, among many homeowners, to postpone dealing with their wet basement issues is almost as widespread as the problem of wet basements itself. Even the mildest wet basement problems (mustiness or dampness) can cause more damage than you think and are bound to result in water damage to your belongings, your property or even your health. Water damage can even affect items stored on shelves in your damp basement because they will absorb the moisture in the air. For some of these items, water damage restoration may be a long and costly process. Don’t procrastinate. Roll up your sleeves and address your wet basement issues.

Wet Basement

Wet basement problems can range from a simple feeling of dampness to standing knee-deep in water. If you have flooding in your basement, you’ll want to start water clean up right away. Be sure to do so correctly by following these instructions:

1. If the water is spraying out of a broken pipe, turn off the water shut-off valve immediately.
2. Disconnect the main electrical switch, and only enter the basement when you know it is not an electrical hazard.
3. Contain water damage by getting as many possessions out of the basement as you can.
4. Try to get all the water out using a shop-vac. You can also install a sump pump in the basement floor to act as a floor drain and speed up water cleanup.
5. Use dehumidifiers to dry the air. Dry air will suck up the moisture from walls, carpets, furniture etc., reducing the amount of water damage restoration that you will need to do later.
6. Drilling 1’’ holes at the base of the walls allow dehumidifiers to draw out the humidity trapped behind the walls.
7. Throughout the water cleanup process, remember to keep the windows closed so that the dehumidifiers can dry out the air completely.
8. Cement is porous and it will absorb water. To dry it out using a fan or a high-speed blower.
9. Try to complete water cleanup of your basement in under two or three days. You will have minimal water damage, and mold will not have had enough time to form.
10. If you do get mold, spray a fungicide directly on the affected area. Do not use chlorine bleach. While it will kill mold on most hard surfaces, it is too diluted to kill mold in the porous material.
11. Clean off dead surface mold using special cleaning products, and let surfaces dry completely. Wear rubber gloves, and if you have services of professional cleaners.

Once the initial water cleanup is done, determine the cause of the problem, assess the water damage, and decide what kind of water damage restoration you need. If condensation is behind your wet basement problem, consider one or more of the following solutions:

  • Installing exhaust fans to draw out the damp air
  • Insulating exposed pipes, duct works, and walls
  • For relatively minor problems, proper ventilation may be enough.
  • Make sure that air can circulate freely, especially at the walls.
  • These measures will all reduce the need for water damage restoration in the future.

Some leakage problems are simple to locate and fix (broken piping, washing machine overflow …), while others are more complicated to diagnose and to repair (guttering problems, underground dry wells, substrata high water tables …). Solutions include controlling surface water, sealing the outside walls of your, and installing drain and pump systems. Ignoring daunting wet basement problems will only lead to extensive water damage restoration needs (floors, walls, carpeting, fabric, documents etc.).

Signs of Water Damage

The Right And The Wrong Place For Water

The world we live in is primarily water. This is what makes the Earth unique. Water sustains life, if there were no liquid water, there would be no life on this planet. Water is almost everywhere, but there are places where you don’t want to see water, like on your walls, underneath your appliances or on your basement floor. When you do see water in these places, you most likely have some form of water damage and you must immediately remedy the problem or else it gets worse very quickly.  Before you can repair anything, it is important to determine where any leaks and damage is coming from. Water is deceitfully powerful and a tiny leak can slowly cause damage that will affect your entire house. Something must be done about it quickly. Find the leak and stop it.

It Can Start From Almost Anywhere

Water damage can start with a clogged drain, crack in the pipes, loose trap, rusty pipes, or a worn out home appliance. The good news is that a leaking water pipe or dripping trap leaves marks for you to see. Below are signs of water damage that you should be aware of.

Water Stains

Water Stained WallA first telltale sign is water stains. Water from a leak is certainly not clean because it contains residues – dirt, soil, rust, and so on. As it dries, the residues dry as well, leaving a brown nasty tarnish. If you see stains around your window frames or at the bottom of your door, it could mean water is coming from outside. If left unchecked, it will ruin your door and windows, leaving you no choice but to have them replaced completely. If you have pipes running in your attic water stains on the ceiling or just between the ceiling joints could indicate a leaky roof or damaged water line leak. The water could have spread or traveled, which means the leak or damage may not be directly above the stained areas. There might also be water stains under a cabinet or sink. This clearly points to a dripping drain or sink trap. It is almost always wet in these parts of the house and some people tend to allow them to stay that way. This is an unhygienic and unhealthy practice. Wet or damp areas inside your home promote the growth of molds and bacteria.

The Floor Can Give Warning

Another common sign is buckling of the floor. Wooden floors would not buckle unless there is water inside or underneath. This is easy to detect. However, if your floor has carpet or sub-floor covering, the water damage could go on undetected for months. This is why it is necessary to make routine checks, especially in the kitchen beneath the pipes or near the dishwasher, washing machine, and refrigerator.

The Walls

Also, check your walls. Water damage could soften or discolor them, and even cause them to swell. Worse is that the paint could peel, making your wall look very unsightly. It would help running your hand along the walls to see if a spot is damp or soggy. If you smell a musty odor and begin to sneeze more often, chances are there are molds in the house. Molds grow from damp areas, which can be caused by a leak or water damage.

It’s Not A Fire

water damage RepairWhile almost all of us are concerned about damage to the home caused by fire, the truth is, our homes are 10 times as likely to be damaged by water than by fire.  Our plumbing failures are the leading cause of water damage.  While we all probably relate plumbing failure to frozen pipes, more than 60% of damage is caused by a plumbing supply system material failure.

This Appliance Failure Is a Top Cause of Water Damage

Our washing machine is one of the top 10 causes of water damage in the home.  The water supply hose failures, machine overflows, and drain problems are the most common causes of hose failure being the primary cause.  These type of incidents can be a disaster if no one is home to stop the flow of water.

This Appliance Failure Sneaks Up On Us

Hot water heaters are another appliance that can develop leaking plumbing and cause water damage.  Pipes can corrode and become weak over time and begin to leak. Ice makers can also be a source of leaks that result in water damage.  Most of the time a hot water leak is small and slow and by the time it’s noticed its set water seeping into the walls which means there’s likely been time for mold to begin growth.

This Is The Worst Of All

Toilet failure is the second most common cause of water damage. Toilet backups and overflows will be the result of faulty fill valves and/or clogged drains. Toilet backup can be a nasty experience.  Having sewage running all over the floor in your house is no fun for anyone.  Hopefully, this never happens to you, but if it does you’ll need professional help to get things properly and completely cleaned up and back to normal.

Homeowners Insurance Coverage

These types of water damage incidents are usually covered by homeowners insurance. So the smart thing to do is have the water damage restoration done by professionals.  This should reduce the risk of needing mold remediation a little later on.