2017 and 2018 were two of the wettest years in recorded history in the Northeast Ohio region. According to the National Weather Service Office, the 2018 annual precipitation total for the year was 48.46 inches and in 2017 the annual precipitation total was 48.52 inches.
For many households in the Northeast Ohio area with older homes and basements that are no longer keeping the water at bay, a wet or flooded basement is a common problem. The accumulation around the foundation eventually finds a way to the basement of their homes causing damage to the walls, floors, and if not properly sealed, to structural damage to the foundation.
The longer there’s moisture in the basement, the higher the possibility of health risks. For the protection of your family’s health, here are some steps to take if this spring you find your basement flooded or with water sitting on the basement floor.
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 the 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.
Waterproofing your basement when the problem hasn’t escalated too far is the best time and the right time to do it. Don’t procrastinate too long, your home is a huge investment for you and your family.