A wet basement and dealing with cat-stink

Remember our basement, readers?

ImageThis was our basement during the final walk-through before we took possession.  Nice cushy carpet, cozy space for a TV area, non?  This is the space that sold Dan on buying the house.

This is what it looks like today:

Image

When was peel-and-stick linoleum a popular choice for basements?

No more carpet, and a hole in the wall.  Here’s what happened.  We got our keys on Thursday last week, and happy little home owners Victoria and Dan raced over to the house on a giddy high of mortgage payments and property taxes.  We wandered through the house in a daze, and made light plans for weekend cleaning.  Dan was going away for the weekend, so it was up to little old me to get some things accomplished.  Item #1 was the cat stink.  It hit you like a ton of bricks when you walked through the door.  It was worse in the basement, so I was going to scrub and wash the cement floors (the litter boxes were in the laundry room), and maybe vacuum the carpet.  We stayed for about an hour at the new house, then went home.

Dan went away for the weekend the next night, and I was on my own to check up on the house until he got back on Canada Day.  The plan was to clean, with a little help from a friend and maybe an Oscar, and check in on the place every day.  I went over to the house on Friday night, after a day of torrential rain.  I was walking through the house with Oscar (the dog), letting him get acquainted to the space, and walked over a wet patch on the carpet in the basement.  A blob of carpet, right around where the shelf brackets are in the above picture, was darker than the rest, and wet.  I had a mini panic.  My parents came over shortly after to see the house, and I showed them the wet area downstairs.  They calmed my little nerves and told me it was likely because of all the rain on Friday, and I should check the downspouts before having a freak-out panic about anything.

Sure enough, the downspouts looked to be the main culprit.  The one at the front corner of the house, right around where the wet patch was on the carpet, had completely come apart and was funneling water into the corner of my house.  My dad jammed the two bits back together, and we made a note to tell Dan to be a handy fix-it boy and make that more secure when he got back.  But the carpet was still wet at this point, and I wasn’t too pleased.

I was working all weekend, so I couldn’t get back to the house until the next night after 7, with my cleaning buddy in tow.  My mom came over with her shop vac and a prying bar for removing the baseboards.  The carpet had to get pulled up so it could have a chance at drying out.  The carpet was still good as long as it dried out soon and didn’t start to get moldy.  We ripped off the first few baseboards and pulled back the wettest part of the carpet so we could cut out the foam mat underneath.  The foam would pretty much stay wet forever under the carpet, so getting it out was the key to drying the carpet.  We kept pulling back carpet until we found dry foam underneath….and there wasn’t a lot of dry foam.  I would say 80% of the foam underneath was wet to the touch, even if the carpet on top felt dry.  We eventually got to a point where we pulled up 3/4 of the carpet.  The foam wasn’t glued down, so it was easy peesy to just pull it out and get it to another room to dry.  Once all of the wet foam was gone, we laid out buckets and bins around the room, and rolled out the wet carpet on top of them, to make pockets of air to speed up drying.  I placed a fan at one end of the room and left it running.

The next day, the carpet was slightly less damp, but every time I moved the carpet, it unleashed a cloud of cat-stink and damp.  Gross.  Dan was back by the third day, and after talking it over, we decided to just cut our losses and get rid of the carpet.  We weren’t in love with it, and it became clear that the carpet was a major source of the cat-stink, so no amount of drying or cleaning would fix it.  The carpet was installed in 2009, and it was a real shame to rip it up, so let this be a lesson to owners of multiple cats – they stink, and they leave a permanent stink in your house even after they’re gone.

With the carpet out, the cat smell was still kind of there, so Dan bought a huge jug of Nature’s Miracle to spread on every surface in the basement to eat away the cat-stink enzymes.  It took a day or so to completely dry, and 90% of the cat smell is gone.  Yippee!  The next step is sealing the remaining smell in the laundry room by painting the cement floor.

My uncle Simon is helping us with the fix-ups that are a bit beyond our abilities in our house, including the new wet basement problem.  He opened up the way where the downspout was aiming, and found a patched crack that predates the drywall and studs in the room.  He said it looks pretty good inside, so the real trouble is likely on the outside of the house.  He’ll be digging down around the foundation and hopefully patching or epoxying the problems away.

Not the best first weekend of home ownership, but I think it could have been a lot worse.  On the bright side, the wet basement gave us an excuse to take the plunge and get rid of the carpet without feeling super bad about it.  Not sure what we’ll put down there later, but I need the leaking basement part fixed before we do anything else with it.

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About joeyandjanice

Two crazy kids trying to make sense of the jumble surrounding making the jump from renting to owning our first home. Join us here as we stumble towards the biggest purchase of our lives.
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