Water damage in the basement should be considered the most susceptible place to face water damage and so how to deal with this problem will ensure you are one step ahead. Why is water damage in the basement such a menace? Well, its because most homeowners keep their HVAC unit and hot water tank in the basement. Many also use it to store their dryer and washing machine.
If your home is like most others, then there are many drains and pipes running through your basement. Let’s not forget about external causes of water damage as well, such as storms and heavy rain.
Considering all of these factors, one would think that most basements are constructed to be “waterproof,” but sadly that’s not true. If there’s been a water leak or flooding in your basement, you will have to take matters into your own hands.
Signs of Basement Water Damage
In most cases, basement water damage is very easy to spot. When you see standing water or sewage in your basement, it is obvious that you have a problem. However, sewage backup and floodwaters are just some factors that can cause water damage in your basement.
Poor drainage, slow leaks, and high levels of humidity can cause devastating water damage as well. So, in order to deal with water damage in your basement, first you need to recognize it.
Condensation from HVAC systems and slow plumbing leaks often lead to mold. However, mold can be a sign of a bigger problem.
You can get rid of surface mold by using a water and bleach solution or special fungicide detergents. Mold removal is one of the essential steps to water damage restoration in your home as mold can have a bad impact on your health if you are exposed to it for too long.
To see whether something is off in your basement, look for yellowish-brown stains. If there is discoloration on tiles, carpeting, paneling, or walls, it may be a sign of water damage. You can try to clean them or repaint the area. But, to get at the root of the problem, it is best to contact a professional.
Basement odors are not too unusual. However, if you notice abnormal or persistent odors in your basement you should look for signs of water damage. If the odor persists, but you are unable to find the source, you will need to contact a professional.
When there is persistent moisture in a basement, efflorescence may appear. It is a white, powdery, and sparkly coating that forms on walls. It usually appears as a result of poor waterproofing.
Winter thaws, heavy rains, and improper drainage can cause cracks in your basement. Hairline cracks are not a serious issue, but cracks wider than 1/16 of an inch require immediate attention.
One clear sign that there is a a problem in your basement will be when you you notice wet carpets in the basement.
Repair the Source of Water
If you have noticed any of these obvious or less obvious signs of water damage in your basement, you need to find their source. You may not be able to repair the source of the problem, but you may be able to stop it and prevent further damage. Causes of water damage can include:
- Malfunctioning water heater: If the water damage can be traced to your water heater, turn off the water supply line.
Sewage backups: If this is the problem, you will need to clean the sewage backup quickly and call a plumber.
2. Improper drainage: If snowmelt and rainwater aren’t properly channeled away from your basement, it may end up being flooded. To prevent this, make sure to clean downspouts and gutters regularly.
3. Leaky or broken pipes: If you can trace the damage to a leaky or broken pipe, you will need to call a plumber.
4. Malfunctioning sump pump: Water can easily flood your basement if your sump pump is not working. If it’s damaged, you will need to repair it or replace it.
Problems with the sump pump can easily be avoided. One of the best ways to prevent flooding in your home is to inspect and test your sump pump regularly.
5. Leaky windows and foundation walls: Water will easily find its way into your basement if there are cracks in the foundation walls and windows seals.
Remove the Water
If the flooding in your basement was caused by heavy rainfall or a natural disaster, you can start removing it straight away. If it was caused by one of the aforementioned issues, it may be best to stop or fix the cause before you get to it, depending on the issue. For instance, if there is a huge pipe leak, trying to remove the water first is likely to be futile.
If you want to get rid of the water quickly and efficiently, use a submersible pump. You can also use a wet-dry vacuum. If these are not an option, you will have to bail out the water the old-fashioned way—with buckets.
No matter what method you use, make sure to dump the water as far as you can from the foundation. To remove as much moisture as possible, open the windows and set up some fans or use a dehumidifier.
Commercial dehumidifiers or air movers are the best solutions, so try to rent one if possible. It may take 1 to 3 days to completely dry the basement. Get to this task as quickly as you can. If you wait for too long, mold may appear.
Salvage What You Can
Try to rescue what you can. If the flooding is huge, you will most likely have to come to terms with the fact that you can’t save everything, so focus on electronics, important documents, and family keepsakes.
You need to properly dry the belongings you want to salvage. Unfortunately, you will have to throw out some of the damaged items.
Paper items, insulation, carpeting, and carpet padding are most susceptible to water damage. It is best to replace these items with new ones. To dispose of damaged items, it is best to use heavy-duty plastic bags.
You may need to remove the drywall as well. This depends on how long the water sat in your basement and how heavy the flooding was.
Disinfect and Deodorize
Once everything is dry and you have removed everything, you need to disinfect the basement and the salvaged items. This will prevent the growth of bacteria and mold.
It’s best to create your own bleach solution that you will use as a disinfectant. Pour a cup and a quarter of bleach in one gallon of water, give it a mix, and spray it on hard surfaces. Use a hospital-grade, color-safe disinfectant on fabrics.
Sprinkle a bit of baking soda on the fabrics in order to prevent unwanted odors. Let it sit overnight and vacuum it the next day. You may need to repeat this step.
Basement floods and leaks require quick action. To successfully deal with water damage, you need to know what signs to look for and where to look for them. It’s also good to know who to call for help in such situations.
If the water damage in your basement was caused by extensive flooding, you may be able to deal with the aftermath on your own. If the damage is too big, however, it may be best to hire a professional flood restoration damage crew.
Kevin has tried his hand at many different DIY home improvement projects with varying degrees of success. He is now the proud owner of half his dream house. You can read more of Kevin’s work on TR Texas.