If your wet basement is carpeted, you must pull up the carpeting in order to fully dry the space. No amount of steam cleaning will extract the water that has soaked into the carpeting and the underlying carpet pad. Failure to remove the wet carpeting will only lead to health risks for everyone living in the home. If you cannot manage the task of extracting the carpet and padding on your own, hire someone to handle the job. |
Before you set one boot on that squishy carpet, heed this warning: You must turn off the power to the basement. If you're not positive which breakers power the basement receptacles, flip the main circuit breaker in the garage panel. If your electrical panel is in the basement, call an electrician to turn off the power.
Most people leave their valuable items in the basement while they dry out the carpet. Big mistake. The longer your items sit in the basement, the more moisture they'll soak up. And that means mold. So get them out of the basement fast!
Move all electronic gear upstairs (high humidity can corrode electronic components.) Take photos and artwork off the walls and move them to a dry location. Place valuable wet books in your freezer until the "freeze-drying" effect removes all the water from the pages. If you can't move furniture out of the basement, place aluminum foil under the legs.
Don't waste your time with a wet/dry shop vacuum—it simply doesn't have enough power. Instead, rent an extractor (if available) or carpet cleaner, an air mover fan or two and a large commercial dehumidifier. Rent the largest dehumidifier available. The big ones can remove up to 30 gallons per day, compared with 4 gallons for the largest home units.
Extraction is 1,200 times more effective than dehumidification. You'll want to move the extractor slowly across the carpet to suck up as much water as possible. Don't rush this step! Once the water is out, peel back the carpeting (watch out for those rusted sharp nails on the tackless stripping) and remove the wet pad. Cut the pad into strips, roll it up and haul it outside. If the weather is hot, dry and sunny, you can try drying it yourself by rolling it out on your driveway. If that works, you can reinstall it by taping it back together. Just be aware that new carpet pad is cheap, so don't waste a lot of time trying to dry the old stuff.
Lay the carpet back on the floor and fire up the air movers and rental dehumidifier. Keep the basement temperature at or below 75 degrees F. You might think hotter is better because it will dry everything faster. But a higher temp will accelerate bacterial growth and turn your basement into a petri dish.
While the carpet is drying, check the condition of the wall insulation. If you don't have insulation and you dry out the basement quickly, you don't have to replace the drywall. But if the insulation is wet, it's gotta go (wet insulation cannot be saved). Snap a chalk line, cut the drywall with a recip saw and toss the wet stuff. Replace the insulation and install new drywall.
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