Whether it is a burst pipe or a foundation crack, having a foot of water in your basement is devastating. So, you know you have to throw out anything cloth or paper you cannot wash and disinfect, but how do you prevent mold growth? Here are four tips for cleaning up after a water emergency in the basement.
Anything that comes in contact with the water must go in the trash if you cannot tear it apart and clean it fully. For example, drywall, baseboards, and insulation must all get cut out of the walls and go into the trash. Carpet and padding must often go. Furniture, toys, clothes, and throw pillows are only safe if you can bleach them. You can freeze books and pictures with a piece of wax paper between every page to deal with when there is more time.
After getting rid of items you cannot bleach, then it is time to get rid of the water. The faster you do this, the better for your home and health. Mold begins to grow in a short time frame. It may grow in as little as 24 hours.
The next step is to disinfect the entire area. Everything you can take apart and clean is on the list. You can use a surface spray like one-half cup of chlorine bleach to a gallon of warm water. You can put this mixture in a garden sprayer, and with a mask, cover the entire basement. This solution is great for cleaning inside mechanical items like furnace ducts or the bottom of the furnace or water heater closet.
The final step is to ventilate for a couple of days to a week. If you can open the windows, use fans, and open doors to the upper level, then you can get more moisture out of the basement. Roto-Rooter says it can take a week or two for vents and the deepest parts of the structure to dry completely. Afterward, it is important to protect your walls and floor with basement waterproofing. This application may minimize the damage if you ever have any problems with moisture again.
Time is the key when dealing with a basement flood. Getting the water out and cleaning everything you can salvage fast is crucial. The more you can dry and bleach, the faster you can stave off mold spores and mildew.