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How to Clean a Basement

Woodrow Aames | Improvement Center Columnist | December 13, 2011

News of violent weather reminds us that the natural world can have its way with homeowners. Many storms are unpredictable, but even the ones you see coming can flood or damage your basement. This is particularly true in the American Midwest, South, and Eastern states. Flooded basements mean mold and mildew issues, along with possible structural harm. Damage restoration should be left to professionals.

Following a storm or series of storms, homeowners may find themselves walking on wet cement basement floors or damp carpeting. Or worse, they can find themselves knee-deep in a basement pond of murky, toxic water. Most homeowners don't know how to clean a basement after flooding or they lack the right equipment. There are water removal and extraction processes, drying out, and clean-up/restorations that require expert sanitation.

According to 911 Restoration, you may need the following services to clean a basement after a flood:

  1. Damage assessment
  2. Pack-out services (to protect belongings)
  3. Water extraction and dehumidifying
  4. X-ray structural and pipe assessment/repair
  5. Mildew-cide application and odor control
  6. Deodorizing

The Restoration Connection Network of Michigan recommends that following a flood, you remove soiled items from your home immediately, turn on any air movers in your home, and wipe down accessible walls. Bucketing out water immediately can cut the costs of the ultimate basement cleanup. Disconnect electrical sources while walking around the flooded area. Use a flashlight.

Preventing basement damage the next time

Once the emergency has passed, it may be time to evaluate your exhaust fan system, whether exposed pipes require insulation, and whether your home requires exterior landscaping to channel drainage away from your walls.

Even what appear to be minor basement problems can be a sign of greater harm to come. A poorly functioning sump pump, leaking pipes, inefficient dehumidifiers, or washing machine overflows breed mold and fungus injurious to your family's health.

Costs for basement cleanup and restoration

Hopefully your homeowners insurance will cover most of your costs to have the damage repaired. Of course, costs vary by the extent of the damage and whether structural remediation is necessary. Cost Owl estimates that homeowners can get away with a light cleanup for around $1,000. That's for water extraction and drying. Severe flooding may cost from $4,000 to $10,000 depending on mildew, mold and property damage.

Remember: the sooner you call in a professional who knows how to clean your basement, the better your chances of preventing fungus damage or harm from toxic flood waters.