How to Recover After Basement Flooding
LESLIE: Gary in Pennsylvania unfortunately had a flood and needs some help picking up the pieces. What can we do for you?
GARY: We had a flood here, a flash food. Rain came down in 8 hours, about 7 to 10 inches. It flooded our basement with about a foot of water. And I’m interested in finding out from you folks how we can get back to normal as far as the basement is concerned. It smells. We did manage to get the sump pump going and get the water out of the basement. But it was – like I said, it was a foot around the furniture and everything. And how can I manage to get things back to where they were before the flood?
TOM: Alright. So, when you have a flood situation like that, of course it’s human nature that you want everything back just the way it was, as soon as possible. But from a practical standpoint, it doesn’t always work that way. Here at the Jersey Shore, we faced one of the worst hurricanes in history, last October, with Hurricane Sandy. And that was the natural reaction; everyone wanted to get back. And we always say, “No, you can’t get back that quickly because you’re going to make some mistakes along the way.”
So what you want to do first is you want – as you’ve already done, you got rid of the water. Secondly, you want to prevent further damage by removing all of the wet materials. So, wet carpet has to be tossed out. If the basement is finished, does it have drywall down there? Those drywall sections have to be cut out to above the flood line. If there’s insulation in the walls, that has to be pulled out. If you have furniture that’s water-damaged, you may have an option of saving some of that if you can get it upstairs and start to dry it out and kind of make a decision as you go. But frankly, a lot of that should be covered by insurance so I wouldn’t maybe try too hard to save it. But get all of that material out of there.
Now, you said it was a flash flood and it flooded the basement quickly. Any time you have water infiltration that’s consistent with rainfall, it can always be reduced, if not eliminated, by making sure that your drainage conditions outside are proper and that you have gutters, they’re clean, they’re extended from the house 4 to 6 feet – not just a few inches like normal gutters are – and that the soil slopes away. So those sorts of things can prevent further water infiltration.
And then after it’s all torn out, then you’re going to want to spray those – that basement floor and the walls down with a solution of bleach and water, about 10 to 20 percent bleach with water. That will kill any mold spores that are left behind. Then get some fans down there; dry that all out. And then once it’s dry, then you can think about putting it back together.
And next time, I would not put carpet on a basement floor because that’s a breeding factory for mold and mildew and dust mites, as well. OK?
GARY: Sounds like a winner to me. I certainly appreciate it.
TOM: You’re welcome, Gary. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.