ANN BAILEY: Water-logged basement adds insult to injuryThis summer, I have learned whether it will rain not by weather forecasts, but by the amount of water on the basement floor. Without fail, every time the water is reduced to a shallow pool in the middle, a couple inches of rain falls that night and the floor is covered by morning.
During the last decade, water in the basement in the spring and early summer has been more the rule than the exception at our house. Although, the water was a hassle, the time our family had to deal with it was relatively short-lived and then the basement floor dried and the difficulties of washing clothes in a water-logged setting were nothing but unpleasant memories.
This year is a different story. Except for a couple of days in June, our basement has had from 2 to 4 inches of water in it for three straight months, despite the fact that two sump pumps are running 24/7. The sound of the sump pumps by far is the most common noise we’ve heard this summer. One pump runs every seven seconds. I know that because I time it when I’m getting ready in the morning in the bathroom that is directly above it.
This summer, I have learned whether it will rain not by weather forecasts, but by the amount of water on the basement floor. Without fail, every time the water is reduced to a shallow pool in the middle, a couple inches of rain falls that night and the floor is covered by morning.
Because the wet floor is a long-term problem, we’ve had to change our clothes-washing strategy. Instead of taking the clothes to the basement to sort, we separate the clothes in piles on our dining room floor and carry them to the basement load by load.
Getting from the first floor to the basement is a challenge in itself because after a few trips to the basement, the steps get soaked from the water that we track. The water makes the wooden steps slippery and it becomes treacherous to navigate, especially going down them carrying clothes baskets.
I tread slowly and carefully as I descend the steps, the clothes basket under my left arm, balanced against my hip, my right hand clutching the handrail. Usually that works pretty well and I arrive at the bottom of the steps safe and sound.
The other day, though, my descent was a lot quicker than I planned. I was about halfway down when my feet slipped out from under me and I went “clunk, clunk, clunk” until I hit the bottom. My right hand was still holding on to the rail so it helped break my fall a little bit, but I still had plenty of bruises and an extremely sore left wrist as a result of the fall.
At first, I thought the wrist might be broken because it had a good sized bump on the left side. After a couple of days, though, the swelling went down and the pain lessened, so I figured it must have only been a strain. I was grateful for that because wearing a cast would have interfered with both work at my day job and at the farm where we were in hay and straw baling season.
I can’t say that falling down the stairs made me tread more carefully because I was exercising due caution before it happened. The experience did, though, make me even more frustrated with the water.
When will it end?
The most worrisome part of all is the uncertainty of how long the water will remain in the basement. We’re starting to wonder whether we will have to remodel our family room into a laundry room. We would hate to lose the space where we spend the most time as a family and where our children like to have their sleepovers, but we can’t see ourselves washing clothes in a water-logged basement, long-term, either.
Besides the laundry room quandary, we also have concerns about whether the extended period of water in the basement will cause structural damage to the house and start to cause problems with mold.
I’ve never lived near a river during a flood year, but the water we’ve dealt with this summer has given me a pretty good feel for what it’s like to battle high water. I just wish that our ground water level would finally crest and start to recede. Otherwise, we’ll have to start researching about what to do with a basement that is still flooded when the ground freezes.