Fixing Water Damage in the Basement


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Fixing Water Damage - Garies Girl

Unfortunately, our trip to Italy was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But fortunately, we were home when our fridge started leaking and caused some minor damage in the kitchen and the downstairs living area. Instead of heading to the airport to catch an overseas flight, we were home and able to move the fridge and shut off the water supply after realizing what was happening. Still, water was actively gushing for about an hour before we were able to shut it off.

Kitchen and Fridge - Garies Girl
Kitchen before Fridge Leak

Minor Flood Damage

We have wood floors in our kitchen and I immediately grabbed towels to soak up the water in front of the fridge. I don’t know a lot, but I know water is not great for wood floors. I was so focused on the kitchen and my wood floors, that it didn’t even occur to me to check the basement for flood damage until later that day. I rushed downstairs to find a whole row of soaked and discolored ceiling tiles and two areas of soaking wet carpet. It looked bad, but also not too bad. None of the wet areas was over any of the furniture or dripping on any of our electronics.

Basement after Wet Tiles were Removed

Cleanup

We immediately removed all the soaked and damaged ceiling tiles and got them into trash cans. I brought down my carpet washer and used it to remove as much water from the carpet as possible.  We got some DampRid to get rid of the excess moisture in the air. What an amazing product? It captures the moisture in the air and traps it in the containers. Keep an eye on these as they fill up with water.

These containers were placed up in the ceiling area and down on the floor. Since we were also dealing with some wet insulation in areas, we removed and discarded those and left everything open to dry out. I have two oscillating pedestal fans and we switched these on and ended up leaving them on for a couple of days.

PRO TIP: It is very important to find something fun to do while dealing with life’s not so fun stuff. We dusted off our Wii Tennis skills while we waited for everything to dry out.

Basement - During
Watching Carpet Dry

The wall on the right hand side of our television wasn’t damaged at first, but we noticed a big water bubble halfway through cleaning on the first day.  I ended up piercing it and that caused another mini flood down the wall.  Pieter came to the rescue and directed the water into a trashcan, and so we were able to keep that damage to a minimum.

Basement Carpet and Wall - Garies Girl
Washed Carpet & Damaged Bulkhead

Fixing the Fridge

The problem with the fridge turned out very straight forward. Back when we moved in, we had a clogged line to the freezer and we ordered a part that we ended up not using. Well, the part that stopped working now happened to be this exact thing – the connection between the waterline and the fridge – and Pieter was able to swap out the broken one with the one.

Fixing the Floor

Originally, I thought the wood floor in the kitchen would survive this mini flood, but of course as time went by the wood started lifting and warping. A section all the way from the fridge to the pantry, about ten pieces of wood, as well as an area into the hallway.

We did some research and realized that we probably will have to replace the floors at some point. There really was no quick or easy way to fix this. I got some additional DampRid containers and placed them on the floor in the kitchen and decided to just wait and see first. Worse comes to worse, we will try a light sand to level everything out. And if that doesn’t work, we will bite the bullet and replace the floors. The “wait and see” approach ended up being the best decision we made here. A couple of months later, the floor was back to normal after having enough time to dry out. Crises (and spending a lot of money) averted.

Basement Cleaning

Down in the basement, we left everything to dry for about two weeks before we addressed the wall damage. Fixing it was rather quick and painless.  Pieter patched and sanded the wall where needed and we took a piece of the painted drywall to the store to have the paint color matched.  The amazing people at Home Depot was able to give us an exact match even though all we were going to buy was a little sample size bottle of paint to cover the newly patched wall.  We had some ceiling tiles in storage, but they were the wrong type or rather, meant for a different area of our basement, so we got a couple of boxes of ceiling tiles at Home Depot as well.  They just popped in where the empty openings were.

 

Basement Ceiling Tiles - Garies Girl
Basement Ceiling Tiles

After everything was back to normal, the basement needed a good cleaning and I spent one evening doing just that – cleaning it from top to bottom. I dusted, vacuumed, moved furniture back to their original spots and had a blast doing it. Best way to clean is to play your favorite music really loud. I find that while in cleaning mode, kids and husbands tend to avoid the general area where cleaning is happening, so a way to get some great alone time.

Basement - After
Basement After

While I would have liked to go to Italy instead, life had different plans for us. I am relieved that we were home to take care of this problem right when it happened. I can not imagine coming back from an overseas trip and finding an active leak and two weeks worth of water damage! As scary as water leaks are, at least it was clean water and at least nothing more important than carpet and ceiling tiles were damaged.

Have you had to deal with water damage in your house before?

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