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  • Writer's pictureKiersten

A Wet and Wild Week: A Look at What Remains After our Basement Flooded

Picture this. You spend a wonderful week on vacation with your entire extended family - a trip you booked 3 years ago - flying in and out of a city 3.5 hours away because it saved so much money the drive and extra hassle was totally worth it, land "home" with 6 adults and 6 children under 10 at 11:15pm on a Saturday night, go through customs, await bags, hotel shuttle, taxi, etc. arrive to hotel room at 1am with said children all still awake, crash, wake up and drive home right away so you can get laundry and a few other things done, walk in the door with all your suitcases after the drive at noon on Sunday to a strange smell... that your 6 year old claims "smells like toilet water."

Yep. That was us this time last week. I brushed the smell off while hauling things in as "stale air since we weren't here and running the HVAC like normal" but Zach started the hunt and found our basement was a soaked and squishy mess with areas of standing water around 1 inch deep.

We have no idea when it happened while we were gone, but believe our sump pump crapped out at some point during the week. We heard there was a lot of rain, then a ton of snow that then quickly melted, followed by quickly freezing. We're guessing it was just too much and our sump pump gave up.

Swipe through the photos below to see what we found when we came home. Hard to really tell on the carpeted areas, it all just squished when you walked through. There was varying degrees of water in every corner of the basement, in every single room.

Replacing the Sump Pump

Not knowing even where to start or who to call first, especially on a Sunday, I gave State Farm a call to see what they said. They recommended a few cleanup companies that they work with often so I called Servpro. They needed us to figure out the source of the issue and correct it before they could come in because if it was the sump pump, they'd be fighting an uphill battle. So he recommended a local plumber who came out to assess the problem.

He thought we may have had a frozen line out from the sump pump because that was something they were seeing a lot of with people last week - after rain and snow melt, it froze quick so they saw a lot of sump pumps backing up. Our was just not working so he replaced it with a new one.

old sump pump removed and sitting on floor

AMAZING to watch that thing kick on and start pumping water like mad. It was moving so much water so fast that he couldn't get the lid back on so we got to see what it was doing.

sump pump pumping water

The "Extraction" - Flood Cleanup, Cut Out and Haul Away

The Servpro crew came right away on Monday morning to assess damage and start the tear-out. Zach and I took time off to work on assessing and removing personal items, boxing up all the stuff we could to get out of the way, making decisions on what should stay and what should go. We didn't realize they would be here ALL WEEK - but this was a huge job.

They started Monday by tearing out all the carpet and carpet pads.

crew removing flooring from living room

Such strong dudes to be hauling soaked pieces up and out. The crew was really great, worked fast. They quickly figured out we'd need a dumpster to start collecting it all as they got further into the day.

piles of flooring and baseboards on driveway

They had a cool little tool that read water saturation levels which is how they determined how much of the drywall and insulation that needed cut out.

hallway with floor removed and drywall.

Since there was water everywhere, literally all trim, and all drywall/insulation has been cut out up to about 2.5 feet.

playroom with drywall removed and fans on floor

The lower cabinets of our wet bar were soaked and had to be taken out to get to the drywall behind. There was a little mold growing on the back of the cabinet, likely from previous water damage. We had the flooded sump pump room right after we moved in 2 years ago before we turned it into the workout room, so figured it could have been from that. Tile floors were torn out too.

wet bar area with lower cabinets removed

The bathroom had the same fate. They had to take out the vanity and toilet to get to that drywall. You can see how dark and soaked the wood framing is in these areas where there was standing water. They took the tile floors out to expose all the wood.

bathroom area without sink, toilet, shower or floors

They attempted to get behind the shower through the workout room without removing it but no luck. Had to get a plumber out to help get the water turned off and the shower removed.

drywall cut out of workout room

The rest of the workout room, and sump pump closet, awaits some significant dry-out too. Look how dark and wet the wood is on the ground holding up these walls.

workout room with fans and dehumidifiers

The living room tile also came up in front of the fire place. The foam brick stickers that Zach put up came off the front too since those were wet behind.

fireplace with tile torn off the front and fans

The rest of the living room became a dump zone that we have daily been going through to box or throw away stuff. The couch was saved in it all - luckily it had plastic feet that didn't absorb the water! Though after all this demo, it's going to need a good cleaning to call it a true save.

basement living room pile of couches and personal items

Most of the store room was saved because it has limited drywall. The closet in the store room had carpeting that had to come out but the walls were wood paneling so they will dry. The shelf is built in, and did absorb water, but for where and what this is, we're going to leave it to take the chance of any future warping that may occur rather than tear it out.

closet in store room with fans on floor

Same for Zach's shop. It was one of our first real projects to give him this workshop, but since it was a DIY (with help), and there isn't insulation or drywall behind them, we're going to keep those in hopes they dry out and not warp too bad too. Just the wall connecting the storeroom to the living room got the damage. All of the doors have been removed, and some have even started warping on the bottom already.

storeroom wall and doorway

The real unfortunate part of it all was that based on what they found underneath, they don't believe this is the first time there has been water restoration. They found some small pieces of insulation that they assume were replacements, and areas of wood framing that had been coated with a sealant. We knew they had water before because of an unmatched piece of carpet, but we didn't know to what extent. But what we do know, is we've totally filled an entire dumpster.

dumpster full of insulation, cabinets, flooring

From flooring, to cabinets, to the shower, to all of our cheaper shelving and other personal items that soaked up the water but were too big to wash like foam-based floor chairs, mats, etc.

zach carrying out a cub shelf

What's Next?

We're currently waiting for everything to dry out. They come back daily to check water saturation levels. They will remove the damaged carpet on the stairs at the very end after the haul their equipment out since it is helping serve as a rug to catch dust, dirt, get.

To help with the drying, they have created little "hot boxes" by putting up plastic walls to help keep the moving air and dehumidifiers where they want them. They've been running nonstop for almost 4 days now so it feels like we're living in an always-on sound machine.

basement door made of plastic sheeting

We're also waiting to figure out what our total reconstruction estimate is and hearing from insurance. The good news is we know we have stormwater coverage so hopefully it won't cost more than we are covered for (beyond our deductible) to put it back together. There are some walls we want to try to remove, and walls we may want to put up, but all of that we know will be above and beyond what it will take to put back together.

Thanks all for the prayers as we figure out what comes next! We're grateful it's just the basement which doesn't have a massive impact on our daily lives. Just need the dust to settle and the fans to stop before I can really start thinking about where we go from here.

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we're kiersten and zach

Follow along with us each week as we work to make the very 2000s home we bought during the middle of a pandemic more “us.” We’ll share everything from quick fixes to more permanent changes, along with projects you can do in your own home. Zach will also share all his lawn and garden advice as he starts over on the yard.


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