Water in the Basement: Prevention and Clean-up

This week, I took in more than 4″ of water in my basement. To keep my wits about me, I sent my child’s Barbie doll afloat in a toy boat (on a side note, that morning Ken was missing as well as two leisure suits, an ascot and Barbie’s Dream Cruise ship. He was last seen cruising around Edgemont Park). We took in 18″ of water during Irene and 4″ with this last storm. All over Baristaville, basements that have not had a drop of water in them for 10 years, have been flooded. So let’s talk clean up and — for next time — prevention.

Step One: Make sure your basement is drained of water either using a sump pump, a submersible pump and or a Shop-Vac.

Step Two: depending on how damp your basement has been most experts agree that a bleach cleaning should be done. Mix 3/4 cup of bleach to one gallon of water. Pour onto the damp areas of your basement floor and spread around with a push broom. PLEASE WEAR A MASK this is nasty stuff to breath in. Unless you have dumped too much bleach water on the floor it will dissolve and you won’t have to clean the excess up with the Shop-Vac.

Step Three: Air out the basement. Open the basement windows and door to the outside if you have one. Get fans going to air it out as well. If you have a dehumidifier fire that baby up. TIP: The best place to have the dehumidifier is hanging from the ceiling near a utility sink. Dehumidifiers usually have a place to screw  a hose so you don’t have to constantly dump out the water by hand. To do this have a piece of 3/4″ plywood cut into a square at the hardware store. Make sure it is slightly bigger than the base of the dehumidifier. Screw four large eye-hooks at each corner. Attach to your basement ceiling with chains and screw four hooks into the beams of the ceiling. The idea is to keep it off the ground and  running as needed, constantly draining into a utility sink.

Step Four: If you have things directly on the basement floor such as rubber bins move them around so  the floor below them dries out. I would also recommend you check all of those bins. They do get cracks and if any water gets in them the whole bin will turn moldy faster than Chris Christie moves through a Chinese buffet.

Remember an ounce of prevention is worth 5 pounds of  The Cure CD cases and covers in a soaked cardboard box.

Step One: Get the water away from the house. Check your gutters and where the water is pooling up. Have a gutter company come and extend your gutters away from the house underground or simply have them cleaned.

Step Two: Seal up crack and leaks where water seeps in with a product called Dry Lock. I have water-proofed two of my homes ( not my current one) with this product. It even works, if you hold it in place, while the water is coming in. It is a very fast drying cement so only make up small amounts at a time.

Step Three: Pumps and drains are the way to go if you want to keep a dry basement. Unless you are super handy call a professional company to install french drains and a sump pump. A sump pump sits in a pit below the ground level of your basement floor. It pumps out the water before it rises up to the level of your floor. I have a small submersible pump  which is good for a back up plan but does not work until the water starts filling up on the floor.

Step Four: Battery back up systems (pictured) are great if like many have you lose power during a bad storm they keep working.

Drylock, battery back up sump pump system, sumbmersible pumps and  sump pumps are all available at American Royal Hardware Store (the pumps will be in this coming Tuesday)

Did I miss anything? Share your damp basement tips with us.

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  1. I’ve only had a small amount of water in my basement and wondered if the spray on stuff I saw on TV would help with the seepage.

  2. Well, I guess I know what my husband is going to want to do this weekend.

    As a side note, our dehumidifier is on a chair next to the sump pump drain. A hose just drains the water from the dehumidifier straight to the sump pump. Works like a charm (unless I just jinxed it).

  3. As long as the dehumindifier is about at the same level as the sink it should work. Mine is on a cement block with the wooden dealy mentioned above and chains leaning on the sink. I have not put it up yet since moving two years ago.

    As for Barbie, I told her I had some rather dicey pictures of her “boyfriend” Ken and his cruise guests. That seemed to get her boney plastic behind moving.

  4. fugghedaboudit, Dag T, the spray stuff on TV is not for you. On the other hand, the spray stuff over at that weird new restaurant is also not for you.
    Go the way that works: French drain and sump pump ( known as freedom drain and sump pump in red states)

  5. Oh, Dag, if only we could solve all our problems with spray-on.

    Holly, when you’re done with her please send her over here with a bucket and some bleach.

  6. The water-Lords in our towns better not sqeek a peep about “Water Shortage” and “No Lawn / Flowers watering, No Car Washing and no washing Off the Sidewalk, come June/July or they will lose ALL credability.

  7. I need brand names. I had a kenmore dehumidifier but it got ruined. do you have a dehumidifier or air purifier or combo of the two that you love? whole house air filter that you love? it’s hard to get good reliable information. i heard Grainger was good. Any thoughts?

  8. and Holly, this is a great post. Really helpful and lots of good info. thank you so much for putting this together.

  9. I’m also curious about the WAVE and am about ready to give up the towel (!) and move. Latest disaster: two of my neighbors had sewer lines back up into their basements this morning. The lovely trees that line Glen Ridge’s streets have powerful roots that have worked their magic in the worst way 🙁

  10. I called the WAVE folks. It’s around 900 bucks but it’s supposed to last 25-30 years. I would STILL like to talk top some regular folks who have one, though. I know John Gambling goes on and on about it but h’es paid to say that. 🙂

  11. If the sump is pumpin away, and the water is discharging to the street (in spite of what Mayor Carl once said, ahem), and if the street is flooded up above the discharge pipes … does the water just come right back into the house? (no, I didn’t take physics in HS… )

  12. Fran- I have a Delonghi dehumidifier. This is what I know about it, I bought the thing in 1998 used from an add in the Princeton Packet. The thing has been moved many times and was halfway covered in water during Irene and it still works.

    Sewer in the basement trumps almost anything. Been there done that, gotta bleach it out.

    Kay not a clue. I took physics in high school. I don’t remember a thing except my father who was an electrical engineer trying to “help” me. Let’s say I did make the honor roll with that class.

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