Cleaning Up a Water Leak in Basement

Bucket catching leak.
Water runs down and your basement is the definite low spot in a home, as well as often the location of many plumbing lines. If and when there is a leak it can be a chore to clean up the basement. This is a page about cleaning up a water leak in basement.


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June 4, 2007

My basement has water leaking from the outside when there is heavy rain. We have invested in water damming by a "professional", as well as new gutters and roof for outside. When this first happened, right after moving here, we thought re-grading the soil around the house would make a difference. Wrong! Sometimes life keeps handing you lemons. Ah well, we now just deal with it as it happens.

Some day we'll be able to have the foundation dug out, etc., but until then I have discovered a coping trick. Adult diapers! These babies absorb the water like crazy. So when the worst happens, I make a dam of the most absorbent diapers I can find. Soon all the water is gone into the diapers, and out they go. You have to buy the diapers when your kids are not with you, because the embarrassment factor is a real thing for them!


I always watch for the diapers at Salvation Army or Goodwill, etc. Sometimes they can be found for as low as 3 dollars a package or less. At a regular store, you might have to pay 10 dollars or more. But even that is not too bad for the water they sop up.

By Elizabeth from Flint, MI

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August 18, 2006

We live in a basement apartment. Two weeks ago, the person above us had a toilet overflow, which leaked into our entryway through a light fixture in the ceiling. We cleaned out the light fixture and the stone floor under the leak, but since then there has been a damp, musty smell in the room. We can't tell where it's originating from exactly, but we suspect the some of the overflow might have stayed in the ceiling and be causing the smell. Any ideas on what to do to get the smell out or on what else we should do.

Also, the ceiling is painted over but small bubbles have appeared in the paint, about 4 feet from the light that had the visible leak. We don't know when these bubbles first appeared, but we beiieve the ceiling was newly painted when we moved in six months ago. Should we be worried?

Mary from Brookline, MA


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August 18, 20060 found this helpful

I would contact the Manager, and tell them were the leak was, because it sounds like you have standing moisture/water in there=MILDEW!! If you have a baby or respiratory problems, that is a bad thing to let go. They need to check it out and report it/fix it anyway, because it did go into the electrical. Keep nagging them until they get it done!

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August 19, 20060 found this helpful

There is still moisture in the ceiling. To properly repair, a portion of it should be removed around the light fixture and where the paint problem is showing. Inspecting there should determine if additional should also be removed.


It's got to be completely dried out - it's even possible that insulation might be there, not so much for heat loss but for sound control and if so, that will need to removed. I notice you're in Brookline - this is a much more difficult proposition if the building has plaster and lath as many older homes/apartments do. That may mean simply waiting but assisting the airflow up there somehow.

It all comes out the same-contact the landlord if you're renting. If not, I hope one of you is very handy! Remaining moisture will continue to smell musty, blister paint, and bulge plaster/drywall until the moisture has escaped. The paint blisters indicate the problem. The fact that it dripped out the light fixture is not material, that's just where the water found a "downhill" to run out. The leak may have been far from that point.

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