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Step-by-Step: How to Dry Out Your Basement

Water can accumulate in your basement for all kinds of reasons, including burst pipes or inadequate drainage. The most common culprits during the spring and summer months are rushing surface or rising groundwater from heavy rainfall. Heavy rains can saturate the soil, allowing moisture to seep through foundation and pool in low spots in your basement.  Whatever the root of your problem, here are steps you can take to dry out your basement! 

Source: Bob Villa Home, Steffani Cameron 

  1. Safety first. While you will likely panic about your belongings, safety should be your priority. Water conducts electricity, and entering a flooded basement can be deadly.  The risk of electrocution is much higher for standing water more than a foot deep.  If that's what you are facing - you will need to hire a professional who specializes in flood remediation. If you’re only dealing with one or two inches of water, you can probably clear out most of the flooding on your own.   But be aware of potential hazardous materials present (like sewage or chemicals) and wear protective clothing and waterproof boots as needed.
  2. Shut off your power and gas supply. Bob Villa's website suggests, "if there are gas lines or gas appliances in the basement, go outside first to shut off the supply from your meter’s gas main. If there are a few inches of water, laying out a few 2×4s or turned-over five-gallon buckets may allow you to reach your breaker panel to kill the power. If you can’t safely reach your breaker, go back upstairs and call your power provider. They’ll help you determine the best next step for your specific situation, which may include sending a utility worker to pull the meter face from the meter pan, disconnecting your house from the electrical grid."
  3. Remove the water. It's important to clear out water quickly. Sop of water by renting a sump pump, use a wet/dry vac, or a traditional bucket and mop.
    • If possible, use an upstairs outlet and run an extension cord for your sump pump or wet-vac, being extremely careful to keep the cord and plug away from the water. Never use an outlet that has been exposed to water.
    • If you know the water is not sewage backup and can pour the excess water down your storm drains, then do so.
    • If you’re unsure, dump the water on your lawn or another permeable surface away from your home.
    • If it’s a clear day, open any windows to increase air circulation. Use high-powered fans and dehumidifiers to speed up the drying process.
  4. Salvage what you can. It's advised that "anything of value should be relocated to a dry spot where the damp items won’t damage floors or furnishings. If you have wooden baseboards, you might be able to save them; pull them out and put them aside to dry. Anything containing electrical wiring (including outlets exposed to the flooding) should be thrown away, according to the National Electrical Manufacturers Association."
  5. Clear the floor. Once you have removed the pooled water, consider pulling up any carpets or rugs. Put your floor coverings aside to dry, assess their condition, and determine what can be salvaged.
  6. Check the drywall. Any drywall that has been exposed to water, is drywall that likely needs replacing. Usually, wet drywall will crumble, and its paper covering can become a breeding ground for mold. If this occurs, you can do a “flood cut” of the drywall 12 to 18 inches above the line of damage. Replace insulation and drywall from the floor to the cut.
  7. Disinfect and throw away damaged things. If it’s clean water that flooded, you can consider skipping this step. But it's best to give everything a good cleaning, including the walls and exposed wood. Use products that can prevent mold and mildew problems before they begin. When applied to the surface and left overnight, these cleaners kill any spores that have already started to grow. If the cause of your flooded basement isn’t apparent, and it’s a persistent problem, hire an experienced pro to pinpoint the source is well worth it.

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