Most property owners are accustomed to facing unexpected issues, such as plumbing leaks, sewage backups, and minor cosmetic damages. However, wading through a soaking carpet, soggy furniture, and wet books after a flood can leave most homeowners paralyzed, not knowing what to do. In many parts of the country, it is not uncommon for seasonal downpours to escalate into severe storms that result in indoor flooding. f
Therefore, if you reside in an area susceptible to extreme precipitation and flash floods, learning how to dry our damp basement can help minimize the water damage and save hundreds or even thousands of dollars in home restoration expenses.
So, whether you’re planning to take the DIY route through and through or simply contain the damage until professionals arrive, keep reading our guide to drying out a flooded basement.
Let’s get started!
Main Causes of Basement Flooding
If there is excess water in your basement, it’s likely due to one of the causes below:
Improperly Sealed Basements
Improperly sealed tiles, walls, and floors in basements cause water to seep through from cracks and openings after rainstorms. This is quite common, especially in older homes and residential properties in wet climate regions.
Sump Pump Failure
Sump pumps are quite a popular find in homes with a basement in flood-prone regions. These naturally constructed pits equipped with valves and sensors are designed to drain excess water from a building’s foundation after a flood. However, they can malfunction due to poor maintenance or faulty sensors and cause water to spill out.
During the rainy season, sewers can overflow and send water into your property. Since basements are typically the lowest parts of residential properties, that’s where most of the black or greywater(sullage) accumulates.
Gutter Full of Debris
Gutters are an essential part of any home’s rain management system since they’re designed to guide water through the downspouts and away from the foundation. During severe storms and high winds, they’re prone to clogging due to debris, such as nuts, branches, leaves, and other materials.
Sub Surface Penetration
Many older homes aren’t constructed on grounds with higher water capacity, such as clay soil. Depending on the amount of downpour, water can easily seep through basements’ walls due to hydrostatic pressure.
How to Dry Out a Flooded Basement
Basements aren’t meant to stay wet for long, so you’ll have to work fast to prevent or minimize foundational problems, such as damp floors or mold – both of which can affect your property’s structural integrity. Here’s everything you need to know about drying out a damp basement after a flood:
- Garbage Bags
- Plastic Tarp
- Detergent and Bleach
- Spray Bottle
- Wet-Dry Vacuum or pump
- High-Volume Fans
- Dehumidifier (if available)
Safety Equipment Recommended
- Face Mask
- Safety Goggles
- Disposable gloves
Look for Dangers
Before drying a damp basement, the first thing you need to do is to ensure it’s safe to enter. If there’s equipment, visible wirings, or other potential electrical hazards, you should cut off the basement’s supply from the switchboard. You also have ensured you’re protected from health hazards, especially when you’re dealing with sewage water or sullage, both of which are loaded with contaminants and chemicals injurious to health. A pair of insulating boots, gloves, and a surgical mask should suffice.
Stop the Water
Next, you need to cut off the water supply to the basement by shutting off the main water valve. This is merely a precaution measure in case of a burst pipe or leakage. If the water is coming from outside or upstairs, try to block or divert its path using gutter extensions or bags filled with dirt. Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do if it’s still raining heavily except move to the next step as quickly as possible.
Remove the Water
Next, you need to get rid of the water quickly using either a pump or wet-dry vacuum. A pump works best for higher water levels, whereas a vacuum should suffice for less than an inch of water. Whatever equipment you’re using, just make sure you pump water away from the foundation, so it doesn’t seep through again. If the water damage is minimal or limited to a corner or small space, you can manage towels, blankets, and sponges to absorb it and collect it in a bucket.
Stop the Water Source
Once you’ve removed the water, you can find the main source of the damage, whether it’s a crack in the wall or a faulty sump pump, and take the required course of action to restore it to its pre-damage condition. At this stage, you can hire a home restoration expert to fully inspect your property or to fix extensive damage beyond your expertise or comprehension, e.g., Mold inspection and remediation.
Remove Personal Items, Equipment, and Furniture
Once you’ve removed most of the water, the next step is to remove your furniture, books, clothes, appliances, and other personal items from the basement to clean and dry them. For items beyond salvation, you can use heavy-duty garbage bags to contain and discard them. The same goes for carpets, paper documents, and clothes – all items that can encourage mold growth.
Dry Your Basement
The next, and one of the most crucial steps, is to dry your damp basement. For this, you can use high-volume portable fans. To speed up the process, you can purchase a dehumidifier to dry out the air and reduce your basement’s humidity and odor levels. This solution is highly recommended for homes in humid climate regions. Depending on your basement’s size and level of water, the drying process can take anywhere between 12-36 hours. You can use multiple fans and/or dehumidifiers to speed up the process further.
Clean, Disinfect, and Deodorize
Once you’ve dried out your damp basement, the next and final step is to clean, disinfect, and deodorize the space to remove dangerous contaminants, such as mold, bacteria, and viruses, as well as nasty smells. For this, you need some warm water, a powerful detergent, and standard cleaning equipment, such as mops, scrapers, sweepers, and scrubbing brushes. To deodorize the space, you can open windows (if any) and let some fresh air in. However, for stronger, long-lasting smells due to sewage or sullage, you can use homemade solutions like baking soda and commercially available deodorizers.
Basements are an important part of any home as they serve several purposes, such as storage for unwanted or seasonal items or additional living space. Therefore, learning how to dry out a damp basement can help prevent or minimize the financial burden. However, if you don’t have the proper drying, cleaning, or deodorizing equipment or think the damage is beyond your control, you should hire home restoration professionals for cleaning and repairs.