A wet basement can become more than just an inconvenience. It’s important to dry the basement quickly, so other areas of your house don’t get affected. Basements are dark places that are susceptible to mold growth due to the lack of light and tendency toward higher humidity. Although mold growth is the most serious threat, it’s not the only one.
How the water gets into a basement
Most basements are below grade. However, there are multiple ways for moisture or water to get into basements. Water damage restoration experts say that “water will always flow from dry to wet, if possible.” Here are some examples of how water can “flow” into basements.
Floor Cracks water creates hydrostatic tension as it builds under concrete floors. Hydrostatic pressure can be defined as the pressure exerted at rest by a fluid (in our case water) with respect to nearby bodies. This means that water will build up beneath the concrete slab and it will be easier to push it upwards through small cracks than it will to move down into the ground.
Window Wells The goal of window wells are to keep soil and water out of basement windows. A drainage pipe should be installed into every window well to drain any water entering it. If the drainage pipe is clogged with dirt and debris, it will not drain away but instead force (hydrostatic tension again) water to pass around the window edges and into the basement.
Wall Cracks Wall cracks are caused by the expansion and contracting of the earth around the basement. This soil movement can be caused by moisture, freezing, and thawing. Cracks may form in basement walls as the basement ground moves. If there is a crack in the basement walls, water can push itself through it and into the basement. Water follows the path of least resistance. This is in this case through a crack, rather than through compacted dirt.
Floor Drains. Some type of blockage is often the reason for this problem. Tree roots, grease and solid objects such as toys can cause drains to stop working properly. Water that enters the drain system won’t have a place to go will instead flow into the lowest drain. It can be found on the floor, under a sink, or in a toilet. Sometimes, debris and objects can cause drain clogs. Sometimes a drain can become clogged due to debris or crushing.
Sump pump: this is an important thing! The sump pump’s job is to drain all water from the basement’s exterior and interior drainage systems. Rainwater will eventually make its way through the ground, and then collect at the footers of the basement. The footer drains collect the water and feed it into the basement, which has a sump-pump. Once the water reaches a set depth in the pit the sump pumps turns on and pumps it away from basement. This pump can fail in a severe storm or during a heavy rainstorm. Water will quickly escape from the pit and flood basement. The basement will soon be several inches deep after the water has accumulated.
Drying out a Basement
Before drying out a basement you need to identify the reason for the water intrusion and fix it. You can’t bail water by using a window screen to do this. Although you might get some water back, it is likely that more will continue to flow.
The next step after stopping the water inflow is to physically extract as much water from the system as possible. This can be done using a combination pump, vacuum, and other extraction tools. It is 500 times more simple to physically remove water that it is to evaporate.
After extracting as much water possible, it’s time for evaporation. You will need commercial-grade fans and dehumidifiers (high-capacity, air-movers) for this task. For the equipment’s sake, all windows and doors to the basement should be kept as closed as possible. The evaporation phase is not something you can do in an hour. Anybody who says otherwise is lying. This stage usually takes between 48-72 hours. Controlling the temperature and speed of air movement is essential for proper evaporation.
Wet Basements are NOT the End Of The World
Flooding is the most common natural disaster in the United States. Do not panic if water is found in your basement Panic will only lead to more misery and possible bodily injury. Do not enter a flood basement if the electricity has not been turned off. You are at risk of electric shock, slip and fall accidents, and other dangers.
Once you are satisfied that the area is safe, move any personal items to a dry place. It is not necessary to remove furniture. You can simply block the water from the furniture. When the basement is dry, the furniture can be dried as soon as it reaches the evaporation phase.