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Question DetailsAsked on 8/30/2017

what do we need to do with concrete floors after carpet removed after flood to live on them until we put in new

foundation has cracks but has been leveled. water did come also through cracks in foundation as well as from walls and doors. This hurricane Harvey. We have small children in house and are concerned about heath risk until we put in new floors

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Here are some previous questions about foundation/slab cracking and repairs - may or may not be applicable to your case.

Assuming the cracks did not radically increase as a result of the flooding (which might indicate a structural issue needing assessment by a structural engineer), the cracks can be patched with a non-shrink crack patching epoxy grout (Thoro is my favorite product line - various products) forcefully trowel in - assuming these are hairline type cracks - not bigger than say 1/8" or so open. This sort of repair will level the surface and may restrict water inflow, but generally will NOT totally waterproof the walls or floor - to do that you generally have to go outside and expose the foundation walls and waterproof from the outside, and in areas with drainage put in a french drain to keep the foundation dry.

In your case, of course, with flooding to overtopping the walls (realizing this was a 500-1000 year event so recurrence probability not real high) exterior waterproofing would certainly help (along with construction of higher ground like berms to eclude surface water as needed), but french drains would obviously be useless if free-draining because the flooding would just back up into them. In high groundwater areas sometimes french drains are connected into a wetwell rather than directed to free drainage, then a sump pump dewaters the wet well - but of course not much help in hurricanes where you have to assume power outage of extended period (longer than a backup battery system can be expected to operate). Ditto to underslab french drains leading to an interior sump pump.

Whether or not you try to do anything to prevent further infiltration is your call - but any such work should be done before / concurrent with any foundation crack repair - patching the cracks after the foundation is exposed but before waterproofing the outside, and as any underslab french drain system is installed. Lots of previous questions and answers on foundation/basement waterproofing can be found in the Home > Basement Waterproofing link under Browse Projects, at lower left. My recommendation if you are in an area where flooding is likely to occur with some frequency (including flooding which might only raise the groundwater level well up the foundation walls) is to determine how important having the basement finished is to you - in many areas it makes more sense (especially if HVAC equipment and electrical panel is not down there) to only put in easily removeable flooring like carpet or even a stained or epoxy/urea coated concrete floor or only throw rugs, not finish the basement, and count on oving out furniture and such before flooding threatens - planning on the basement possibly flooding and just suing it for a workshop or rec room or such.

On the flooding - because there was undoubtedly sewage in the floodwaters, if you dry the walls out quickly (assuming only the bottom few inches got wet) generally not a big issue - can be done with small holes in each stud bay using a shop vac on blowing mode to air the wall cavities out - blowing in through one hole maybe a foot or so above the wetted line and exiting the wall cavity just above the bottom plate - and of course that moist air has to be removed from the house with fans. Works well if humidity outside is below about 70% - not so well if still raining and such.

If walls got well saturated a foot or more up, or could not be aired out within 1-2 days of the wetting, then generally you will have mold growth starting so cutting back the interior wall drywall to above the wetted line and treating for mold/mildew and replacing any wetted insulation is standard. Ditto to replacing wiring that went underwater. Any basement walls that went underwater basically have to at least be stripped of drywall and dried out and treated for mold, because backed up tight against the foundation wall they will not dry out well otherwise and will almost certainly mold. If they sat for extended period of time before being able to open them up and dry them out, then tearout and replacement is the norm.

Generally speaking, if you get at it within a day or two and clean and ventilate it out well you will not have mnold/mildew issues - if you smell mildew or mold smell then you need to attack it with mold remediation first, then rehab any surfaces.

Concrete/block wall surfaces can be soaked first with a 50% bleach solution (1/2 water, 1/2 ordinary laundry chlorine bleach) with adequate hand and eye protection of course - very bad if splashed in eyes and some people are skin sensitive to it, others like me can handle pure bleach barehanded with zero effect other than a bit of drying from the oil removal. Then wash several times with laundry or dish soap (I prefer Dawn) - I put a cup per 2 gallons of pure Borax powder (the laundry Borax, NOT Boraxo hand soap) in the rinse water because that inhibits mold growth, but that needs rinsing off down the road - certainly before anyre painting at least.

Ditto with floor washing.

Of course, depending on uyour insurance coverage, you might or might not have coverage which would potentailly make your insurance company a resource for locating/contracting a Water and Smoke Damage (your Search the List category) contractor to do the cleanup and any mold/mildew removal and reconstruction.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD


Oh - BTW - after cleanup, if going to be awhile before reflooring (or never) you can use a "paint" type floor covering on the concrete (stain, floor paint, epoxy, polyurethane, polyurea, aspartic urea, etc) or concrete sealer to reduce staining and dusting. Fine if carpet or wood/laminate is going to go over it, but if planning on tile or stone means it will have to be removed before putting down the new flooring if yuou do it old-school (mud coat). You can use one of the no-bond methods like the Schluter mat system - all I can say about that is good luck and plan on lots of cracking. If planning on a sheet product like vinyl or linoleum a silicone sealer on the concrete is likely to cause bonding problems - most "paint" type systems can readily be sanded to give good enough bond for the adhesive.

Of course, if you expect the possibility of future flooding of the basement, a hard surface (concrete finish, stone, tile) flooring, easily pulled up area or throw rugs or fitted square carpeting, or counting on the flooring being a throw-away afterwards is your best bet. I like (for rare flooding possibility) roll-out short nap carpet with non-organic construction and built-in padding (molds less readily from concrete moisture if inorganic materials, liek polyester carpet with bubble plastic or foam backing) put down as a throw-rug - can be wall to wall in handleable sizes with taped joints so it can be pulled up and the tape peeled before a forecasted flood event and moved upstairs, or if it ends up wet can readily be pulled up and thrown away quickly. Put down over 8-12 mil vapor barrier to reduce chance of moisture from the concrete dampening the bottom and causing mildew smell. Or use regular unpadded carpet over the bubble-wrap type combination vapor barrier/padding - just be aware that high heels, block heels worn by a heavy person, or heavy furniture feet putting pressure through the carpet can locally pop the bubbles in it.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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