What kind of company would clean my grimy, dirty basement?
June 22, 2016 1:45 PM   Subscribe

In a few weeks, I'll be moving into a house with a very dirty unfinished basement. I want to hire a company to really, really clean it, but I haven't been able to get any good responses from the local companies I tried. It seems like there is dust and grime everywhere. After everything is moved out, what kind of company would do this sort of clean up?

The house was built in 1935 and the current owners have lived there since 1996. The owners have a TON of storage in it and have used part of it as a workshop. It seems like nothing has been cleaned up since at least 1996.

One company suggested power washing, but there is no drain, and I worry about damaging the old concrete floors. I worry that sweeping will kick up a lot of dust into the air, which will eventually settle back down and need to be cleaned up again. And there could possibly be lead particles in the dirt, which I'm concerned about. Shopvac: I don't know that a vac would have enough capacity for all the dirt!

What kind of company would you call? Even better would be a specific recommendation for someone in the Boston area. Thank you.
posted by scottso17 to Home & Garden (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
1) Is the basement even cleanable? Does the basement have a dirt floor, for example?

2) Searching for post-construction cleaning services / contractors to turn the basement into a "broom-swept condition" might give you some leads.
posted by suedehead at 1:51 PM on June 22, 2016

I'm not sure if this would work (or if you've tried it), but I got a lot of hits in the Boston area googling "disaster cleaning" and "disaster recovery services."
posted by FencingGal at 1:51 PM on June 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You want to get a quote for a builders' clean or a sparkle clean. These are industry terms. Ask for a risk assessment and method statement (you probably can't do this until you approve the quote), it's good for insurance and valuation. Ensure you ask for a report with before and after pictures.
posted by parmanparman at 1:53 PM on June 22, 2016 [5 favorites]

If you know anyone who can recommend a friendly contractor/builder, or just want to google and cold call, throw yourself very nicely on the mercy of whoever answers and ask if they can recommend someone or at least tell you the best local terminology for the thing you need.
posted by Lyn Never at 1:54 PM on June 22, 2016

Best answer: Post-construction cleanup, particularly any post-construction cleanup that is experienced with historical homes.

A friend of a friend had a good experience with this company.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 1:56 PM on June 22, 2016

I would search for company who specialise in cleaning, not just a contractor. You want a company that will not need to burden you worth the extra cost of hired in equipment.
posted by parmanparman at 2:20 PM on June 22, 2016

You can get the people who do disaster cleanup stuff to do something like this. When I had a basement flood (in MA) I hired a local well-reviewed arm of the Serv-Pro franchise who came and just handled it. I am assuming the house belongs to you and you are able to do this work? Do not fret about water or dust or lead, just get professionals in to do the job. The downside to this, of course, is that this sort of service is not cheap. But it will be thorough.
posted by jessamyn at 2:48 PM on June 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: We have an unfinished basement in our 1915 Massachusetts house, with a thin slightly uneven cement floor. Ceiling is the joists and wood subfloor of the 1st floor, with all the heat ducts, water pipes, and wiring. Walls are fieldstone up to about shoulder height and brick above; both are mortared and painted. When we bought the place in 2005, the previous owners had obviously done a lot of work in the cleanout, everything had been tidied and all the shelves and work tables and appliances (furnace, water heater, washer/dryer) wiped down, everything prepped and as nice as possible. 6 months later there was dust and dirt in a thin layer everywhere. We've used the basement as the workshop supporting a couple of remodeling projects and vacuumed up afterwards, and we've done a few organizing/cleaning projects on the basement storage.

What I've got to say after all this is that an unfinished New England basement is dirty. The cement and fieldstone just generate dust. The open subfloor ceiling generates a lot of dirt. The wall cavities from upstairs rain out tiny quantities of dust from insulation and plaster. The basement was clean, and now it is dirty, and nothing really happened in between other than time.

My warnings: You can clean it up like crazy, and it won't last. I bet the current owners have cleaned it more recently than you imagine.
My recommendations: Don't try to make it professionally sparkling clean, you'll just be disappointed. Do use a shop vac, those things will gobble down huge amounts of dirt, debris, and dust, with no trouble at all. So what if it fills up - congratulate yourselves on progress, dump it out and keep going. Don't try to powerwash it - even aside from the drain issue, the floor is probably of an age that the power washer will ablate cement as you go, generating a constant supply of more dirt. Do go in and wash down the surfaces (furniture), but don't take it too seriously (i.e. unfinished concrete floors are basically unmoppable, the vac works best.)
posted by aimedwander at 2:12 PM on June 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

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