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Small section of Flooding in basement.. opinions on my options?

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  • Feb 28th, 2019 2:44 pm
[OP]
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Oct 9, 2018
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Small section of Flooding in basement.. opinions on my options?

So I had flooding in basement from last night's rainfaill. A lot of water pooled beside my house and found itself into (what I assume is) a crack in my foundation wall - I can't confirm myself that it is a crack because there's insulation and rock board covering the wall. Quite a bit of water got in to the basement and went underneath the laminate flooring in the hallway. We figured out the issue pretty quickly once the flooding started occurring and mopped up as much water as possible with towels, and a large sleeping bag in storage inadvertently soaked up a lot of the water too. Now I have wet laminate flooring (about 50 sq ft --just a small portion of the hallway), and it's starting to bubble around the edges of the affected planks. We rented an industrial fan and industrial de-humidifier and have been running them both all day to try to get the moisture out from underneath the laminate.

I'm wondering if I should just bite the bullet now and rip up the wet laminate? (and just deal with unfinished flooring in this section of the basement until I can replace it)...

Or if I can just live with the laminate after it dries? Obviously my main concern is mold and mildew underneath the laminate if it does not get fully dried.. will the actions I'm taking do you know if the floor underneath the laminate will dry enough to live with slightly unsightly laminate?

(Context this is an 70 year old resold home in Toronto that I bought this past fall. Hadn't had any flooding or dampness until this rainfall. I know it was previously renovated ~10 years ago by the previous owner and they didn't have flooding either in the past 10 years.)
13 replies
Deal Addict
Jan 28, 2007
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Pull up the laminate as it's not going to dry out properly leaving it down, and you will get mold.

Pretty much anytime laminate gets that wet, its game over and it's done. There is no sense hanging on running the risk of doing more damage leaving it down.
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Jul 25, 2008
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pull it out..and get a dehumidifier to avoid mositure feeding mold....

Fix the foundation crack or the weeping tile drainage problem in the spring ....
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Dec 25, 2006
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Winnipeg
cf7777 wrote:
Feb 24th, 2019 3:52 pm
Fix the foundation crack or the weeping tile drainage problem in the spring ....
Fix the pooling water issue first! Fix the grading around the house. Water should NOT pool beside the house.
People will believe what they want to believe whether fact or fiction.
'tis most frustrating when they aren't open to see and/or learn which is which.
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Your laminate is probably pooched. If it is in a high traffic area, and you are happy to live with swollen seams and the eventually chipping of the top layer, just ignore it.
At this time of year, mould will probably not be an issue. We are still in the heating season, and your humidity levels in a 70 year old house are most likely be in the -30% range, depending on what's been done to the house. It may dry on its own, depending on what substrate under the laminate. If it directly on the concrete floor, it will absorb most of the moisture.

Freeze/thaw cycles are a bastard, and your basement was never intended to be a living space. Don't expect this to be a one off event despite it never happening in the past (that you knew about).
Make sure your downspouts and eves troughs are clear of debris, free flowing and the downspouts directed well away from the foundation.

If you are going to replace the flooring, I highly recommend good quality vinyl plank.
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warpdwhim wrote:
Feb 24th, 2019 5:10 pm
Fix the pooling water issue first! Fix the grading around the house. Water should NOT pool beside the house.
Yes we have been aware of the grading issue since we bought it (Sept 2018) but did not have time in the Fall to fix it/hire someone to fix it, so we planned to get it done in the Spring (we were debating having someone do membrane waterproofing and redo the interlocking around the house so that it properly slopes away from the house).
MrFrugal1 wrote:
Feb 24th, 2019 5:43 pm
Your laminate is probably pooched. If it is in a high traffic area, and you are happy to live with swollen seams and the eventually chipping of the top layer, just ignore it.
At this time of year, mould will probably not be an issue. We are still in the heating season, and your humidity levels in a 70 year old house are most likely be in the -30% range, depending on what's been done to the house. It may dry on its own, depending on what substrate under the laminate. If it directly on the concrete floor, it will absorb most of the moisture.

Freeze/thaw cycles are a bastard, and your basement was never intended to be a living space. Don't expect this to be a one off event despite it never happening in the past (that you knew about).
Make sure your downspouts and eves troughs are clear of debris, free flowing and the downspouts directed well away from the foundation.

If you are going to replace the flooring, I highly recommend good quality vinyl plank.
We decided to rip up a small section of the laminate to see the damage. Laminate is pretty soaked through. There’s a foam/tin foil/plastic sheet (personally no idea what it is) directly under the laminate that has been laid on-top of what looks like old tiling which is on top of the concrete floor. Even though the top of the laminate has dried, it’s all damp underneath. Since there’s plastic/foam directly under the laminate, it will probably just retain the dampness.
And the issue outside the house is with the grading of the interlock patio around the house (cosmetically it’s in good shape but was done over 15 years ago so the interlock has settled beside the house) as well as the next door neighbour’s lawn being higher than ours and their downspout just dumping into our backyard beside our house. We've talked to the neighbour and they're going to extend the downspout further down their yard so it will not dump the water directly into our backyard.
Deal Addict
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The foam/tin foil/plastic sheet is probably underlay of some manner.
Your best bet is to remove the damaged laminate. There's only one direction for it to dry if the water is on top of the underlay, and that's upwards past the laminate. Laminate is comprised of plastic encased wood fibre, so the only route to dry is at the seams, and you already know what happens there.

Do consider replacing your laminate with vinyl. I've been down this road myself, I installed laminate in my basement, and I regret the choice.
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Dec 27, 2009
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The laminate is ruined. I would pull all of the laminate up (not just the wet part) and probably put some kind of more waterproof flooring down there.

Also, I wouldn't trust that there was never any flooding in there before.
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Nov 22, 2018
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in addition to the floor, what about the bottom of your studs and drywall?

We had something similar last year - hate to say it, but it required us ripping down walls - once we removed some affected drywall we saw it had flooded before and there was rotten wood & mold on the back of the drywall
We also got pros in to fix the cracks in the basement walls - which also required removal of the drywall/studs. They did say we only needed to clear the bits around the cracks we found - but we had no idea of the condition of the rest of the exterior walls so decided to rip it all out and be confident in whats behind there all along the walls.

I have young kids so leaving that in place was not an option with mold.

took the opportunity to refinish the basement as it was a crappy job in the first place (we moved in 2 years ago)
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Mar 22, 2017
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Laminate is done. Rip it up right away and toss it. Fix the water issue outside your house ASAP or it'll happen again, likely worse in the spring. Run a dehumidifier to try and save your walls, might be worth opening them up to see how bad it is. If your foundation's a mess, you can do an interior repair (they pressure inject a gel into the foundation crack to try and seal it), but smarter to do it from outside (they dig a trench, fix any cracks, slather on some waterproofing and use a sheet to make your foundation fully waterproof). Outside is really expensive, but works way better.
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Nov 22, 2018
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grumble wrote:
Feb 25th, 2019 11:33 am
Laminate is done. Rip it up right away and toss it. Fix the water issue outside your house ASAP or it'll happen again, likely worse in the spring. Run a dehumidifier to try and save your walls, might be worth opening them up to see how bad it is. If your foundation's a mess, you can do an interior repair (they pressure inject a gel into the foundation crack to try and seal it), but smarter to do it from outside (they dig a trench, fix any cracks, slather on some waterproofing and use a sheet to make your foundation fully waterproof). Outside is really expensive, but works way better.
exactly what we did. we had 2 cracks (found the 2nd after I decided to rip out all the exterior drywall. The main crack was fixed by them digging a 10' trench outside the window well, fixing the drainage and sealing it up. The second they couldnt because it was under the driverway and where the electrical panel was located, so they had to do the injection gel fix.

Hopefully the OP's situation isnt as bad, but I would never have been able to sleep not knowing what was behind the rest of the walls had I just addressed the obvious leak point.
[OP]
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Oct 9, 2018
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EndeavourX wrote:
Feb 25th, 2019 11:19 am
in addition to the floor, what about the bottom of your studs and drywall?

We had something similar last year - hate to say it, but it required us ripping down walls - once we removed some affected drywall we saw it had flooded before and there was rotten wood & mold on the back of the drywall
We also got pros in to fix the cracks in the basement walls - which also required removal of the drywall/studs. They did say we only needed to clear the bits around the cracks we found - but we had no idea of the condition of the rest of the exterior walls so decided to rip it all out and be confident in whats behind there all along the walls.

I have young kids so leaving that in place was not an option with mold.

took the opportunity to refinish the basement as it was a crappy job in the first place (we moved in 2 years ago)
My partner is pretty reluctant to rip up the flooring, trim, and some of the drywall, and thinks we can just keep it down since the top is dry. If we have run/ continue to run the dehumidifier / air circulators daily and get silica gel desiccant to put behind the walls, on the floor, he thinks it'll be okay. His argument is that we caught the leak as soon as it started happening and cleaned it up before it could stand for very long.
I guess if there "probably won't be" mold growth under the flooring/ behind the drywall by keeping the humidity level low, what's the big risk of keeping the laminate down for a few years or so? (He doesn't want to rip it up now and do a partial job because we have been using the basement a lot, but rather save up some more money and do a full basement gut and renovation in a few years)

I personally rather just rip everything up now, and live with a partially unfinished basement for a few years and not have any potential for mold to grow...
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Oct 9, 2010
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First thing's first: the "laminate" that is down, is it supposed to survive getting wet? As you say it is "bubbling" around the edges, that means it likely isn't, and will act link a sponge holding water; mike a kitchen sponge (except worse, because it will never dry), you'll get mold. If you don't want mold, it has to come up. For reference of what happens between surfaces that are wet: my basement flooded, and storage tote was on the floor with my cleaning supplies in it. I never moved the tote, so when the water went away, some water remained trapped between it and the tiles it sits on. I moved the tote at LEAST month later, and substantial water was still underneath it.

As for how the water came in: Your foundation wall is not an impermeable surface, no matter what you do to it. You might have a "crack" in your foundation, but it might not matter if you can resolve whatever is causing water to pool against your home. Proper grading, and controlling where your downspouts drain to, will potentially resolve your issue.
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dflamez wrote:
Feb 28th, 2019 10:03 am
My partner is pretty reluctant to rip up the flooring, trim, and some of the drywall, and thinks we can just keep it down since the top is dry. If we have run/ continue to run the dehumidifier / air circulators daily and get silica gel desiccant to put behind the walls, on the floor, he thinks it'll be okay. His argument is that we caught the leak as soon as it started happening and cleaned it up before it could stand for very long.
I guess if there "probably won't be" mold growth under the flooring/ behind the drywall by keeping the humidity level low, what's the big risk of keeping the laminate down for a few years or so? (He doesn't want to rip it up now and do a partial job because we have been using the basement a lot, but rather save up some more money and do a full basement gut and renovation in a few years)

I personally rather just rip everything up now, and live with a partially unfinished basement for a few years and not have any potential for mold to grow...
Leaving it in place is just asking for trouble. That stuff needs to come up.

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