Dealing with a wet basement can be a daunting task, but knowing how to effectively soak up leaky water and remediate the damage is essential to maintaining the structural integrity of your home.
In this article, we explore the causes of wet basements and cracked floors, and share valuable tips and techniques for extracting water, disposing of debris, and addressing mold issues. With the right approach and tools, such as a trusty shop vac and appropriate personal protective gear, you can tackle water remediation in your basement and keep your home dry and safe.
What Causes Wet Basements and Cracked Floors
One of the primary culprits of wet basements, deteriorating walls, and cracked floors is a false water table. This temporary phenomenon is weather-driven, usually lasting for 10 days to two weeks, and is caused by heavy rainfall. The backfill area outside your basement walls fills up with water, which then forces its way down into the ground and up underneath your floor. Cracking in the floor is often mistakenly attributed to settling when, in fact, it is caused by hydrostatic pressure pushing and cracking the floor.
The Importance of Managing Your Basement Water
Where you manage your water determines how dry you can get your basement. A good waterproofing system ensures that the entire basement floor is not sitting in water. Unfortunately, some waterproofing systems are pieced together haphazardly with scraps, resulting in ineffective water management.
The Water Extraction
After the storm hit, our first task was to get the water out of the basement. With the help of my husband, son, and a friend, we worked for 17 hours straight. Our primary tool was Hildy, a 1969 industrial shop vac, which helped us extract the moisture from the carpet. We cut the carpet into four-foot sections, rolled it up, and drained the water before disposing of it. If you don’t have access to an industrial-sized shop vac, a strong one should suffice.
Personal Protective Gear (PPE)
PPE is crucial for water remediation projects. We wore old clothes, good shoes to prevent slipping, gloves, eyewear, and masks when dealing with drywall and baseboards.
Disposing of the Water and Debris
Our sump pump, which had initially failed us, became our friend when disposing of water from the shop vac. We used an old colander to catch debris to prevent clogging. For the trash hauler, we made sure to cut carpet and padding into four-foot sections, which cost us only $65 for bulk pickup out of the $1700 insurance allotment.
Removing Trim Work and Drywall
The next step was removing trim work, baseboards, beadboard paneling, and damaged drywall. We cut these into manageable sizes and disposed of them in contractor bags over two weeks. We saved money by not renting a dumpster, which can cost between $400-$600.
Dealing with Mold
We found minimal mold growth on some studs behind the beadboard. Using mold control spray, we cleaned and wiped down the affected areas, letting them dry for two to four weeks before installing new drywall.
Section 6: Air Quality
Throughout the process, we used fans, dehumidifiers, and air purifiers to maintain air quality. We also wore masks to protect ourselves from dust and mold spores. After the demolition work, we changed the air filter to ensure clean air in our home.
A Self-Cleaning Waterproofing System
A high-quality waterproofing system should be perpetually self-cleaning and maintenance-free. If the system clogs with soil or iron ochre, it was likely not installed correctly, and the homeowner should receive a refund. A good system also allows for the warranty to be transferred to the next owner if the home is sold.
In conclusion, understanding the causes of wet basements and implementing the right waterproofing techniques can help homeowners keep their basements dry and structurally sound. Proper drainage, placement of pipes, and restoration of the floor’s thickness are key factors in achieving a dry, comfortable basement space.