4 Things to do When Your Basement Gets Wet

stock-photo-6173250-pipes-under-houseA wet or flooded basement is a common problem in our area.  Clean up can be labor intensive, emotionally draining and time consuming.  It can also be time sensitive; the longer there’s moisture the higher the possibility of health risks.  Here are some steps to take to protect the health of your family if your basement gets wet.

Dry it out – The basement and all the items in it should be dried out as quickly as possible.  Use fans and dehumidifiers, as well as open doors and windows.  Even if it’s cold outside, when circumstances allow, open them anyway.  The faster it’s dried the better chance you have of saving possessions and decreasing the health (mold) risk.

Clean it up – The best way to avoid or eliminate mold growth is to immediately clean the things which can be disinfected.  Many porous items (i.e. clothes, carpet and padding, upholstery, wallpaper, drywall, ceiling tiles, insulation, paper, wood products, toys, food) can’t be effectively sanitized.

Mold thrives in and on these surfaces, and the longer they’re wet the more difficult it is to kill all the spores.  This is the time to be ruthless – your kid’s school projects, pictures and stuffed tiger may not be salvageable. The Center for Disease Control recommends erring on the side of caution; even dead mold can cause allergic reactions in some people.

Throw it away – Triage is vital and decisions must be made in a timely manner.  Mold spreads fast and the longer you take to get rid of unsalvageable items the better chance it has of taking hold.

Items that can’t be cleaned should be immediately thrown away in receptacles outside the house (including the garage).  If you need to store something for an insurance claim, do so out of the house.  In extreme cases you may have to temporarily move out while damaged floors and walls are removed by professionals.

Take appropriate caution – Use strong, disinfecting cleaners and wear the proper equipment (gloves, face masks and protective clothing) while using them.  Try to avoid cross contamination – don’t wear your shoes on the wet, damaged basement carpet and then walk through the rest of the house with them on, spreading spores as you go.

Also, you may need to consult with your doctor before you begin clean up.  People with allergies, asthma, weakened immune systems and respiratory conditions should contact their physician to find out what type of participation is allowed. 

OK, you’ve had a big enough problem that you’ve had to follow some or all of these guidelines.  If the trouble is internal (i.e. sump pump, leaking basement walls, broken pipes) this is your wake-up call to fix it.  Don’t go through all the hassles of clean up only to have to do it all over when the problem reoccurs.


Nicole Abbott is a professional writer who’s had over 100 articles published.  She’s a business consultant and former psycho-therapist with over 20 years of experience in mental health, business and addiction.  She’s a coach, lecturer, trainer and facilitator.  She has conducted over 200 workshops, trainings, presentations, seminars and college classes. 

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