Many people associate spring with Spring Cleaning and few places in the home need to be cleaned like the basement.
If you’re dreading cleaning the basement as the weather gets warmer, you’re not alone. Basements can be difficult to clean for two reasons. First — basements aren’t frequently-used areas of the home, people tend to store little-used items in them. The storage can become haphazard and chaotic. Second — basements can be prone to water damage. Water damage leads to further damage and may even affect the structural integrity of your home.
Let’s look at how to quickly clean up your basement in both areas — and then get outside to enjoy the fresh air and flowers.
Organization of Storage
As the year’s progressed — or you failed to spring clean the basement last year — you’re probably left with a jumble of items. Old or out-of-season clothes, grandmother’s photographs, food you bought in bulk, ski boots and a canoe might all be found throughout the basement. Here’s how to organize your mess.
Buy Storage Containers
Life often gets cluttered and messy simply because people don’t have enough organizational items. It’s easy to deal with old or out-of-season clothes if you have clearly marked storage containers in which to find them.
If you know where last season’s swimming suits are, for example, you can take them out to wash so they’ll be ready for the first pool day of the season. But if you accidentally mix them in a pile with stuff you intended to take to Goodwill, it can take several hours to go through it all.
The solution is to have enough storage containers for what you’re storing in the basement. Buy plastic containers so that water seepage — if it occurs — won’t damage the items. Especially if you’re storing keepsake items in your basement, like old photographs or records, you’ll want to keep them safe and secure.
Clearly mark the containers to indicate what is in them. Mark them so the writing can be seen without moving all the containers to make next year’s cleaning go quickly.
Install Enough Shelves
Many items in a basement should be placed on shelves — we’d recommend tools, gardening equipment, bug sprays, herbicides and other chemicals. Just as you need enough containers to store what you have, you need enough shelves to place the items on in the basement. Group items logically — garden equipment, tools, etc. — to stay organized.
Cleaning Up After Moisture and Water
Basements are prone to moisture and flooding, especially in the spring. Water can damage not only what is stored in the basement but also the basement’s foundation. If the foundation becomes damaged, your home’s structure will deteriorate. Water can also cause mold or mildew, which damages your home as well.
Water might come in through cracks in the foundation. If your basement isn’t waterproofed, a wet winter and spring might cause more water than the ground can absorb. Then, it finds it way into your basement!
Take precaution measures to make sure your basement is free of moisture and the potential damage it brings.
Finding Moisture and Water
If your basement has a lot of stored items or furniture, move everything away from the walls. Check the walls and corners by looking and feeling to see if they are moist or wet. Look carefully at all parts of the wall, ceiling and flooring. Feel any carpet to see if it’s moist or wet and check the foundation thoroughly for any cracks.
Don’t forget to check outside too. Bowing basement walls can be a sign of foundation damage – Inspect your home for any damages to the foundation. A leaning chimney could be a sign of trouble, for example.
If you smell mold or a definite odor, you may have damage from water that appears and then dries. You need to locate any leakage — a dryer vent, an old hot water heater or washer supply lines. The leakage may not be noticeable if you only come down to the basement every few days.
Check your gutters and downspouts by looking for any debris, such as bird’s nests or branches. They won’t work properly if they are blocked, causing more trouble for the ground around your foundation.
Getting Rid of Water Damage
Once you find moisture or water, you need to get rid of it. Open your basement windows and any outside basement doors on nice days. Use a fan to circulate air. Be sure to check that your windows and vents are clear.
Rent a wet-vac or dry-vac to clean up the water or hire a professional. Purchase a dehumidifier for the basement, especially if you don’t have windows or a door to air out the room.
Once you have organized your basement, checked for water damage and repaired any issues, your Spring Cleaning in the basement is done. Enjoy the outdoors!