HOW TO DRY OUT A WET BASEMENT FAST
If you’ve experienced flooding or water intrusion of any kind in your basement, you need to dry it out as quickly as possible. The faster you dry it out, the less time the water has to seep into materials and the easier your water damage restoration process will be.
The step by step guide below will walk you through how to dry out a wet basement as fast as possible.
MAKE SURE IT IS SAFE
The first thing you want to do if you notice that your basement is flooding, is make sure that the water level has not risen above any electrical outlets or live wires. If it has, then there is likely a live electrical current in the water and you risk fatal electrocution if you enter the water.
If you can safely access the electrical panel, then shut off your power before going near the water. If you cannot safely access the electrical panel, then call emergency services for help.
If your electric panel is out of date, see our page on upgrading your electrical panel.
LOCATE THE SOURCE AND STOP IT
The source of water entering your basement could be a variety of possibilities including a broken pipe, cracks in your home’s foundation letting water in after a storm, old basement windows in need of replacement, or leaks from in and around your home.
If it is a water leak or broken pipe, turn off the main water line. This is usually a knob that you turn all the way to the right to shut off.
BEGIN REMOVING WATER
Now it’s time to start removing the water from your home. Time is of the essence in this step because by getting the water out quickly, you can reduce the damage done and lower the risk of mold spreading throughout the space.
If you have a sump pump and it has not automatically activated, then activate that immediately. If you do not, then consider buying or renting an automatic pump to steadily get the water out. Sometimes the fastest, best move in the moment is to just grab a bucket and start bailing water manually. A combination of all three is even better.
For information on top sump pumps available, see our best rated sump pumps page. Sump pumps are a smart purchase as they typically activate automatically and help catch and remove some flooding as soon as it starts.
REMOVE WET ITEMS
Once some water is removed and you can easily access your personal items in the basement, it is time to get them out of there. If it is dry outside, then move as many items as you can outdoors to air out. If it is raining outside, then move them to a dry area such as a garage or separate room with a concrete or tile floor or lay down a tarp for a dry, non-permeable surface.
What to do based on type of wet material:
Tile, glass, and other nonporous items
These types of items are easy to clean and should not be affected too much by flooding. A simple sanitization will be enough to restore them. However, you do need to keep an eye out for any mold growth and promptly clean it before it spreads.
Fabric, upholstery, and carpeting
These types of items are trickier to clean, but all is not necessarily lost.
Any clothing, towels, or fabric that can be thrown into the washing machine should go through a couple of cycles in the wash, then fully dried once it is clear any stains are gone.
Carpet cleaning may be needed for any rugs and carpets to ensure there’s no mold hiding in the fibers.
Upholstered furniture is a little more difficult as you cannot easily remove the fabric to fully clean. Some of these items may need to be reupholstered or thrown out completely.
When unpainted wood is inundated with water, it can warp and buckle, not to mention hide mold deep within its fibers. Unless it is a small amount of moisture, most wood items will need to be replaced after basement flooding.
Drywall is made of gypsum and paper boards and is therefore extremely vulnerable to moisture. Once water touches the bottom of a piece of drywall it will begin climbing up the board, crippling even more of the drywall panel. Just like with wood, unless it is a very small amount of water, most wet drywall will need to be cut out and replaced.
DRY AND DEHUMIDIFY
Next, it is time to bring in fans and dehumidifiers to further dry out the space. Although there may not be water on the floor anymore, there is likely water in the air and on any remaining materials in the room. Fans and dehumidifiers will help bring moisture levels down to a safer point.
If you are in search of a solid dehumidifier, our dehumidifier guide for basements breaks down the pros and cons of the top models available.
CHECK MOLD AND MOISTURE LEVELS
Use a moisture meter to check any lingering moisture in the air to make sure it is fully dried out before moving to the next step. This goes hand in hand with checking for mold. All mold needs to breed is a little bit of moisture, so it’s time to wipe out any chance of mold to survive and spread at this point.
CLEAN AND SANITIZE
Now that everything is dry, it is time to deep clean and sanitize. The first step is to clean all surfaces with mild soap and warm water. Give everything a good scrub and wipe down.
Then go back over with some disinfectant to kill any existing bacteria. This is especially important over any areas where mold was present. Make sure to completely dry the area after cleaning.
MAKE ANY NECESSARY REPAIRS
The final step in this process is restoring your basement to the condition it was in before or even improving it if the situation calls for it. For example, if your drywall was badly damaged, then cut out the damaged area and replace the drywall.
If you’d like to know more about drywall installation, see our page on the average cost of drywall installation.