from summer rains and wet basements
enough for you?”
There should be a
special Hell for people who ask questions like that. I always remember
the joke about the guy who went to Hell.
gave him a cup of coffee and was showing him around. As they walked
down a hallway, the devil said to the guy, “You will spend
eternity in one of these three rooms, but you get to choose the
the devil opened the door to the first room, where demons were
chasing people around with pitchforks. The guy shook his head from side
to side. They went to the second room and the devil opened the door
just a crack, so the guy could see people swimming in a pool of
eternal fire. The guy shook his head again and asked what was in the
opened the door to the third room, and there were a bunch of people
standing around in cow dung up to their knees, smoking cigarettes
and drinking coffee. The guy figured this was way better than the
other two options, so he looked at the devil and said he’d take
door number 3.
asked if he was sure. The guy said yes, so the devil pushed him in
and the door slammed behind him with an unholy thud. As soon as he
was inside, someone handed him a cup of coffee and a cigarette, and
soon he was happily chatting with the guy next to him when he heard
a whistle blow.
“Break’s over,” a demon said through a bullhorn. “Everyone
back in handstand position.”
If your basement
has suffered from the torrential downpours we’ve been having, John
Frentz has a few tips for you. And if you’ve been lucky enough to
avoid any water damage thus far, John has a couple ideas that may
extend your winning streak.
cracks and leaks
Quikcrete® HYDRAULIC WATER-STOP CEMENT
is the name you want to remember if you have water
dribbling, or pouring, out of a crack in a basement wall. It’s a
form of hydraulic cement, that expands as it dries, which means you can apply it right to the
leak, while it’s leaking, and it will hold.
requires two simple steps:
the Quikcrete, which isn’t difficult and must be done in small
batches, because it dries so fats; and
a chisel to opening up the crack just a bit so that the
cement has a space to expand into.
“You want to
chip a “V” and make the crack a little deeper into the wall, on
both sides of the crack, so the hydraulic cement will have a surface
to stick to,” John says. “Otherwise, you’re just smearing the
cement over the surface of the wall, and water will leak through
If you have standing water, you have three choices:
a snake and clear the drain yourself;
a plumber to do it; or,
the water isn’t too deep, is draining, but at a slow rate, you
can try a product John has, called Rooto.
“You put it in
the clean-out – 1 cup at a time, followed by a cup of warm water until
the whole 6-1/2 lb bucket is dispensed.
recommend much in the way of salvage operations because of e-coli.
“It’s really going to stink, for one thing, and for another, you
can get real, real sick. Even if it’s a nice piece of furniture,
throw it out and let your insurance deal with it.”
To disinfect the
basement, John recommends Lysol, Pinesol, or even bleach,
“but that’s pretty hard on the lungs.”
If your basement
is tiled and the corners are curled, they’ll have to be pulled up.
John says, “I don’t know of any way to glue them back down.”
That means the adhesive that once held them in place will have to be
scraped off by sheer force, by using a heat gun, or with a product
called, oddly enough, Old Hard Adhesive Remover.
For a large, one
piece linoleum floor, John says that if it isn’t bubbled, then water
probably hasn’t seeped underneath it. “If it looks like it’s
locked tight to the floor, it might be OK, but even if a little water
got beneath it, I don’t know how you would ever dry it out.”
Just because water is pouring out of one place in a wall doesn’t
mean that’s where the leak is. The source of the leak could be three
feet over, but the water is just leaking from the weakest point in the
wall. The point: You don’t want to waste time and money
patching the wrong leak.
To find the real
source, John says check outside your home.
take a look at the downspout and make sure no water is building up
next to the foundation.” He also recommends checking the entire
exterior wall, particularly shrubs that are close to the house and
have been there for a while.
“Those can hold
water against the wall,” John says. “Also, if they’ve been
there, it’s possible they’re in soil that is lower than the lawn,
which means water is draining off the lawn, toward the house. The way
to fix that is to yank the overgrown shrubs and backfill against the
house to reverse the water flow.”
is nice and dry, think about DRYLOCK. “It’s a waterproof
paint, very thick when it goes on. When it dries, it actually becomes
part of the wall,” John says.
your sump pump. If you need a new one, bring in the pump and the pipe
connected to it. John says that way they can set you up with a new
pump and make sure the piping fits the plumbing work already installed
in your house.