Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: Central Kentucky
Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
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I'm sorry to hear of your bad luck. I haven't had storm water in my basement but did have a water heater leak out a few years ago and can tell you what was done then. The damage it caused was >5X what your insurance says they will cover.
The theater is now just a very small part of your problems. Does anyone in the home have any respiratory issues or sensitivities? Mold and mildew are the most pressing issue at this point.
Before buying industrial drying equipment, check with local rental houses. You can rent much larger equipment for a week or more for less than you can buy it for, and hopefully you won't need it again. I would act quickly, if flooding is widespread in your area, there will be many calls for rental equipment.
Once you get the water removed, take out any furniture, cabinets, etc that have had water on them. If they are made of MDF go ahead and dispose of them, it's a great building material, but absolutely will not tolerate water. Anything that can possibly be dried and saved, set them somewhere to dry. The GOM fabric is synthetic, I think made from recycled soda bottles. Once you can work in the area, find the high water mark and chalk line a horizontal line about 12-18 inches higher than that mark all around the room. use a utility knife and straight edge if you like and score a horizontal line all around the room. This will make repairs easier if repairs are even possible. Start tearing the drywall off from the floor level up to the score line all the way to the studs. If you have fiberglass insulation especially fiberglass with paper backing, rip it out up to the score line. If it's rockwool, you might be able to salvage it, rockwool is much more tolerant of water than fiberglass or cellulose. Go ahead and pitch the carpet and pad if it has one. Most carpet is synthetic, but they do use organic materials like jute in the backing, carpet pad will just act like a big sponge and probably never dry out.
At this point start with the fans and dehumidifiers for several days or maybe even weeks. While the area is drying start looking into why and where the storm water backed into your basement to start with. There are backflow preventers on the market that act like a check valve to prevent this. It probably won't be cheap to get one installed if your slab has to be cut into to install it, but it will be much cheaper than doing this clean up again. It's also a good time to check drainage around your house and see if you can do anything there to help prevent another occurrence like extending gutter downspouts, grading, or additional drainage systems.
The biggest mistake most people make is trying to rebuild too soon. You will need a moisture meter and accurate humidity meter. Inspect the open wall sections very carefully. If it's metal studs, wonderful. If they are wood, any wood that touches concrete or masonry should be treated lumber. Mind you that this open area is just a starting point, if you see signs of mold or dampness you are going to have to keep going higher, maybe all the way to the ceiling. The last thing you want to do is enclose actively growing mold. You should run the fans and dehumidifier(s) until the following: dimensional lumber has about 20% moisture content from the lumber yard so that's an acceptable level for lumber, drywall should be very close to 0%, maybe 5% is OK, hardwoods should be <10%, Overall room humidity should be at or less than 55%. The recipe for mold is darkness, low or no air movement, humidity >55%, and an organic food source. Some of the newer drywall has a paperless finish, but most use paper. Take moisture and humidity measurements at a minimum of once a day and document them for a report you make for yourself for purposes I'll explain later.
If you are able to get it dried properly, a final cleaning and disinfecting with some kind of bleach will be the next step. The oxygenated bleaches are supposedly best on molds. Give the moisture you introduced during cleaning a few days to dry out.
I don't know anything about real estate laws in your state/area, but if you ever sell the property you will likely have to disclose the flooding. Make plenty of pics and document all mitigation steps taken including moisture and humidity levels before and after. If you do this DIY, it might be a good idea to have a pro come out and give an opinion on if it's completely mitigated before rebuilding. Make sure and keep a copy of their report for reasons I listed above. Another good idea would be run an test for molds. You can buy the kits at most of the big box stores and you have to send it to a lab for results, you end up paying twice, don't be fooled by the original sales price. If the report comes back with a high level of molds, you need to keep tearing away at the walls to find the source. If you do ever sell, you will want to show documented evidence that you properly mitigated the damage and took steps to prevent it happening again.
I wish you the best, I know how you feel.