The Land of 10,001 Lakes


By Ed Roskowinski, CR

Okay, so you weren’t thinking that the Land of 10,000 Lakes included one in your basement. But lo-and-behold, when you walk down your stairs, you find all your precious belongings floating around the room. I know it’s of no consolation, but you’re not the only one sporting an unwanted indoor water park.

Here are some pointers, with help from the University of Minnesota, the Insurance Federation of Minnesota and Standard Water Control Systems:

Take pictures and videos of the mess and keep receipts for replacement items for insurance claims and tax deductions.

Have the power turned off in the water-damaged area. Check with an electrician about what’s safe and what’s not.

The water’s probably contaminated, either because it has run through soil or has backed up through the sewer system. So wear boots, waterproof gloves and a protective mask during clean up.

Remove as much stuff as possible from the space, especially things that have gotten wet. If sewage has gotten on an item, throw it out.

The motto for a successful cleanup is “hurry up and wait.” What isn’t cleaned up within 48 hours may not be able to be salvaged. And what is cleaned up may need to sit for weeks, even months, before it’s dry enough to reinstall.

Remove standing water with pails, mops, rags and/or sump pumps. Then suck out all the water you can with a shop vacuum. Begin drying the rooms by using dehumidifiers, fans and air conditioning.

Remove any wet carpet and carpet pad and throw the pad away. You may be able to dry the carpet by shop vacuuming as much water out as you can. Clean the carpet if needed, then lay it out upside-down on a patio or driveway to completely dry.

Remove any damaged or wet woodwork, drywall and insulation from the walls and throw it away. Allow the framing material to completely dry before installing new insulation or drywall.

Do a thorough disinfectant cleaning of everything that has been wet to minimize the potential for mold growth. You may use diluted bleach or other products. Check with the University of Minnesota Department of Environmental Health and Safety ( for details.

If the damage is extensive, call a professional floor restoration company to help with the clean up and repairs and protect your investment from future issue.

Don’t have water in your basement? Don’t get too confident, as the ground is saturated. Go around your yard and make sure you’re minimizing flooding possibilities, such as clogged gutters and full window wells. Bring that expensive entertainment system upstairs for a while. And make sure your sump pump works.

Ed Roskowinski is General Manager and VP of Vujovich Design Build, Inc., a 37-year design build firm specializing in building and remodeling unique Twin City homes for unique homeowners.

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