Finished Basement Water Problems: What to Do First

Finished Basement Water Problems: What to Do First

In a recent article, we talked about “first aid” for your unfinished basement water problems – what to do immediately when ground water infiltrates your basement.  As big a mess as you may have on your hands with water in an unfinished basement, the problem is far worse if you have created living space in a finished basement.

Most people remodel their basements to add family rooms, play rooms, media rooms or home office space.  Whatever the use, a typical remodel will include drywall finishes, flooring (often wall-to-wall carpet) and wood or composite moldings.  Some more involved remodels can also include built-in woodwork, such as bars, cabinetry and shelves.

There’s Water in Your Finished Basement.  What Do You Do Now?

Turn off the electricity – If you’re going to be walking around in water or on soggy carpets, your safety comes first.  Turn off the breakers for your basement circuits, EXCEPT for the sump pump, of course.  Run extension cords from upper floors for lights and power; handle them carefully and keep them dry.

Save the furniture and electronics – Other than the construction itself, your biggest investments in your basement are probably the furnishings and that big-screen TV.  If you can move the furniture upstairs or to a dry section of the basement, do that right away.  If not, try putting wood blocks under the legs of each piece to raise them out of the wet.

Also, remove art from the walls, books, drapes, bedding – anything that can absorb moisture – your basement is going to be pretty damp for a while.

Clean up the water – If you have hard floors, like tile or laminate (solid wood should never be installed in a basement) use your wet/dry vac’s floor nozzle to clean up the water.  You can empty it in the sump basin.  If laminate flooring has been thoroughly soaked, it’s trashed.  Ceramic tile will probably be OK; vinyl or composite may suffer from adhesive failure and start popping off the floor.

Wall-to-wall carpet is a bigger challenge.  Start with a wet/dry vac and move to a commercial extractor or carpet cleaner, usually easy to rent.  Carpet soaked with ground water can be salvaged but you must act quickly and get as much water out of it as possible before mold begins to grow.  The pad is probably a goner, so you’ll need to pull up the carpet and remove it.

Run a Dehumidifier – Getting as much moisture out of your basement as possible is key to minimizing damage.  Other ways include opening windows and running heat or air conditioning but the dehumidifier will dry things out the quickest.

You’ll notice that I haven’t said, “Call the basement waterproofing company.”  There’s time for that later, once you’ve recovered from the mess.  Before you restore your basement to its former glory, though, make sure you’re not headed for a sequel to this disaster by making a plan for your finished basement to stay dry before you re-remodel it.

One last caution:  The scenario described here resulted from the seepage of ground water, which is clean.  If your basement is flooded from a sewer back-up, you have a much bigger problem on your hands.  We’ll discuss that in another article.

Not to rub it in, but all this could have been avoided if you’d waterproofed your basement before you remodeled.  At U.S. Waterproofing, we’ve helped thousands of homeowners keep their basements dry, finished or unfinished, since our founding in 1957.  We can do the same for you so why not ask for a free consultation?

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