7 Steps to Prevent Mold After a Basement Flood

According to the CDC, “In 2004 the Institute of Medicine (IOM) found there was sufficient evidence to link indoor exposure to mold with upper respiratory tract symptoms, cough, and wheeze in otherwise healthy people.”

Spring showers and summer humidity place a huge toll on your basement especially its moisture levels.  One of the most damaging parts of moisture is the mold that thrives in the wet conditions.

Mold is an extremely potent allergen because the spores it releases affect the upper respiratory system.  Symptoms include headaches, nasal congestion, throat irritation itchy eyes, and skin irritations.  Luckily, there are tried and true methods of preventing this annoying fungus and removing its spores from the air.

The number one rule in preventing mold is the 48-hour rule– if furnishings or walls get wet from a storm or burst pipe, you need to dry it out within 48 hours to prevent mold from attacking.

Ideally you will want to prevent water from reaching your walls or furnishings, especially in a basement during rainy season. Want to know the best tips for a dry basement? Follow these 7 tips for a Dry Basement. You’ll definitely want to have a sump pump alarm that sends a text message, like the PitBoss. This will act as a final warning should your sump pump stop working.  A good alarm will allow you to place a sensor inside your sump pit and warn you before your sump pit overflows.  This will give you ample time to respond to the warning.

If you already have water in your basement you’ll want to follow these 7 tips to dry your walls and furnishings:

  1. Turn off the electricity.  Water, electricity, and human skin do not play nice together, please steer clear and turn off the electricity to your home before proceeding into the basement.  Since it will be dark down there, you’ll want to have a high powered battery operated flashlight.  New LED versions give you ample lumens and are priced affordably.
  2. Pump the water out of your basement.  Using a gas-powered water pump, pump the high water out of your basement.  The water pump will probably leave a little standing water on your floor, but will allow you to get back into your basement.  You can then try to fix your sump pump and have it pump the remainder of the water out or you can use a wet/dry vac to pump the water out.  Remember to remove your vac’s filter if it has one as it’s not made to get wet and will be ruined by the water.
  3. Remove all your wet items.  This is painful, but necessary.  Move everything out of your basement to a dry location.  Your garage or even your driveway to dry out will work out best.  You’ll want to clear up ample space for the next few steps.  Recruit help from friends and family for this step as you’ll be moving furniture and/or loads of boxes; either way you’ll probably have a lot to carry and help will get the job done quicker (you only have 48 hours).
  4. Clean the walls and floor.  Use warm soapy water and clean the walls and floors, be sure to give them a good scrub down to remove any dirt and grime.   If you have soaking wet carpet, you’ll want to pull it up and let it dry separate by moving it in the garage or outside.  You’ll also need to pull up the padding as well, since acts like a huge sponge and holds a lot of water.  Create  a tent with the carpets and pads to help air travel over both sides.
  5. Get the air moving and remove excess moisture.  Once all the water is removed from the basement you’ll need to get some airflow moving to remove the excess moisture.  Industrial blowers work the quickest, but if you are tight on money, then you can use fans, but they need to be powerful and close to the floor.  You’ll also want to get a dehumidifier working to wick the excess moisture from the air.  Be sure to change your dehumidifier pan regularly, as a flooded basement will create a lot of air moisture and the pan will fill quickly.
  6. Look for mold and return your items to the basement.  After a few days you know if you have mold either by seeing or smelling it.  You’ll want to hit any moldy areas with a bleach solution to kill the spores.  Once you complete that step you can have your carpets re-installed and you’ll want to rent a carpet cleaner to clean them as well.  Then bring your furniture and other belongings back to the basement.
  7. Keep a dehumidifier and air cleaner in the basement. The dehumidifier will keep moisture levels in check creating a dry environment that naturally prevents mold. A HEPA air cleaner will grab any residual spores and other allergens and filter them out of the air. These two devices will ensure your basement is a dry, cozy, and comfortable space for the entire family to enjoy.

Ultimately you’ll want to avoid cleaning up after a basement flood by having a sound sump pump system with a backup pump and a pump alarm.  When the inevitable happens and you’re forced to dry your basement after a flood, the 6 steps above will help prevent mold spores and keep your indoor air quality crisp and clean.  Please let us know if you have any tips for cleaning a flooded basement by commenting below.