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Drying Out a Wet Basement

Joseph Coupal - Sunday, April 11, 2010

When you are faced with a wet basement it can be a particularly heartbreaking sight especially if things are ruined.  The first thing you need to do is dry out the basement and this could be a big task.

How Deep is the Water?
Before you can dry out the basement properly, you will need to get rid of all the water. Where there’s deep standing water, you’ll need a pump to get it out of the house. Rent one from a local rental store or buy one. If there are just puddles of water, a wet-dry vac should be sufficient to take care of the problem. When there’s just a tiny amount of water, a mop and squeegee will be adequate. When the basement is damp but there’s no standing water, open the basement window and use a fan.

Removing Damaged Items
The water will most likely have caused damage to items in the basement even if it’s not immediately apparent. If the basement is carpeted, remove all the carpeting and underlay then throw it away. it is highly unlikely that it can be salvaged.  If there’s a wooden floor with an underlay, take it all up. Take the wood out to the garage to dry and throw away the underlay, since you won’t be able to re-use it. If there’s drywall or paneling in the basement, remove that too. It’s a magnet for mold and mildew. Where there’s been contact with water, you’ll need to replace entire panels and not just sections. Go all the way to the studs. Don’t try to save any of it as this could lead to a moldy, mildewed basement later on.  Take out all the furniture and clothing until the basement is empty. Clothes and covers should be washed then dried.

Drying out the Basement
Even with the water gone, the basement will still be damp. You’ll need to run a dehumidifier for several days to ensure it becomes completely dry. Until the basement is thoroughly dry, don’t attempt to make any repairs or replace items.
If you have a wood floor with no underlay in the basement, inspect for any signs of buckling and replace any planks that need it.

Inspecting the Basement
When the basement has been completely dry for a week, inspect it carefully for any signs of mold and mildew, especially on the wall studs or other porous material. If you see any, replace the item. This is the only way to keep the mold from the basement.

Finding the Source of the Leak
The leak that caused your wet basement could come from any number of sources, such as a burst pipe or a leaking washing machine. However, it could be a crack in the foundation or high water table. It’s important to find the cause of the leak and fix it before you repair the basement. If you’re not sure of the reason, employ a professional to determine the root cause.

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