Dry out a basement?
July 12, 2005 11:47 AM   Subscribe

Any suggestions for drying out a flooded basement?

So I wake up in my house at 6:30am after the remnants of hurricane Dennis blew
through Atlanta, and I hear a sound like a waterfall downstairs...

I ran down to the basement to find a foot of standing water, and a fountain of water in the center of the room. I leapt down and found that the hose from the sump pump (which usually keeps the basement dry) had broken, so rather than pumping the water outside, it was pumping it out into the half-basement.

So I stood there and held the broken hose while my wife fetched tools and a flashlight, and eventually figured out that I needed to pull the power plug, and cut and splice the hose. I did that, then, standing in ankle deep water, re-plugged in the sump pump, half expecting to be electrocuted. Obviously I survived, but it was a heck of a way to start the day...

So... my question...
This is a half concrete, half "dug-out" earthen basement (common in the South...), and now that the water's mostly gone, I'm left with an overwhelming "dampness." The water mainly was on the concrete section, which is real damp...

I'm blowing box fans on it, and plan to put the dehumidifier on the job, but does anyone have any further suggestions for drying out a formerly flooded basement?

Thanks in advance...
posted by jpburns to Home & Garden (8 answers total)
The two electric appliances you mentioned will do the job, unless there's still mosture in the dirt floor.

Here in the northeast, we put down concrete "floating slabs" which are easier to maintain. Even if there's thin carpet on top, all you need is a good wet/dry shop-vac to get the water out. Fans & dehumidifiers do the rest. Lingering mildew issues can be solved using various odor-eating sprays like Lysol.
posted by catkins at 12:00 PM on July 12, 2005

Dehumidifiers and fans will do wonders. If you don't want to drop the $100 or so each for dehumidifiers, they can often be rented locally. The catch with this sort of thing is that if you are having problems so are others and they might be hard to get ahold of. I have successfully dried out a 1200 sqft basement with one dehumidifier, but I would highly recommend a couple of them spread around if at all possible.
posted by jduckles at 12:05 PM on July 12, 2005

When I have let my convertable resemble a fishbowl I have used a trick derived from my days as a photographer; when we needed to get negatives ready quickly we'd add a bit of rubbing alcohol to the final rinse to improve dry time. So now when I am concerned about standing moisture in the car I get some 99% pure rubbing alcohol and douse the area of concern with it and stick a fan nearby. Improves evaporation and kills critters at the same time.

That being said, it takes a certain amount of guts: this is, after all, something they fuel bunsen burners with. I suspect my willingness to take the chance with my $2,800 used car is a little greater than you and your home, plus there's fewer possible sparks in it. But if you have certain "problem spots" this could be a workable solution with some supervision.
posted by phearlez at 12:16 PM on July 12, 2005

A shop vac is a tremendous way to remove a few inches of standing water. If you find things aren't evaporating as quickly as you'd like, you can pick one up for about $100.
posted by Coffeemate at 12:30 PM on July 12, 2005

I wouldn't do the rubbing alcohol thing in a home, especially not with a dirt floor. The vapors will be, uh, interesting to deal with. No way will the ventilation be good enough.

But yeah, dehumidifier and fans will do wonders. If you don't have a dehumidifier already, get one that will let you drain it right into the sump pump's intake pool, that way you won't have to deal with emptying it every few hours.
posted by SpecialK at 12:30 PM on July 12, 2005

Here's an article that might help.
posted by JPowers at 12:38 PM on July 12, 2005

You need to rent some fans. But not just any fans; those box fans just won't cut it.

See the fan on this page or the carpet fan/blower on this page. They are typically used when you flood an area with carpet (which I have had happen three times). They don't even look like normal fans but they move a tremendous amount of air across the floor. Very noisy but you should keep them running continuously until things dry out.

Call either a place that rents construction type tools or a carpet place. They might not have them but one of those places should be able to tell you where to find them.
posted by 6550 at 1:00 PM on July 12, 2005

By the way dehumidifiers are repurposed A/Cs. If you've got A/C seperate from your heat run both at the same time. If your A/C and heat are the same system you can try alternating back and forth. Make sure your evaporator drain on the A/C isn't clogged.
posted by Mitheral at 2:51 PM on July 12, 2005

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