What to do about a wet basement in San Francisco
It’s every homeowner’s nightmare: a disaster strikes, like a hurricane or flood, and now the basement is filled with water, or a pipe broke and there’s water leaking and mold growing everywhere. What to do?
First of all, don’t panic. It may look bad, but there are steps you can take immediately to begin fixing the problem before calling in the professionals.
Dealing with Condensation
First you need to figure out what caused the problem: condensation, runoff or groundwater seepage. Condensation shows up as wet spots or even puddles, and is caused by moist warm air in the cooler environment of the basement.
While not as dramatic a problem as flooding, condensation can still cause a lot of damage — buckling wood floors, soaking carpets, rusting metal and rotting wood. Check for condensation by taping foil over the wet areas. Check it the next day; if it has moisture on the outside, water is condensing from the air.
Open the windows in the basement and run fans to bring some air into the basement. Most importantly, get a good, heavy-duty dehumidifier — ideally one that can process 50 pints in 24 hours). During the winter, turn up the heat in the basement and make sure all the cold water pipes are well insulated.
To prevent future condensation problems, professional water damage specialists can waterproof the basement or crawl space with special coating and plastic sheeting, and they can also check the foundation vents and fix leaky ducts or pipes.
Problems with Runoff
The most common cause of wet basement problems is runoff — usually rainfall or melting snow that is not properly diverted from the house, and seeps through the foundation walls.
If the basement is especially damp after a heavy rain or snowfall, chances are you are dealing with runoff. For this issue, it is better to call in a professional water damage company to handle it, because they will know exactly what to look for when checking your foundations, slope gradient, downspouts, and footing drains, and can repair any cracks in the foundation. They also have the heavy duty equipment that will pump the water out safely and efficiently.
Another cause of basements that may need professional help is subsurface seepage from groundwater. If your basement seems constantly wet, this may be the problem. Professionals experienced with water damage can install a sump pump, add absorbent clay to the soil around the foundation walls, installing perimeter drains, and doing more extensive waterproofing. However, given the importance of keeping water out of the basement, it would be worth it to get expert assistance for a wet basement in San Francisco.