Won House at Auction. Water in the Basement. No Power.

12 Replies

Dear BP,

I recently won a house at auction, the power is off, and there is water & mold in the basement.  Once I get the deed in about 30 days, I'd like to go in and fix the place up.  What is the best way to approach getting the water out, doing the demo on the walls & flooring, cleaning the mold, and rebuilding the basement?  I've heard that "remediation" companies can cost a fortune and wondering if anyone has faced this situation, what are the ways to get it done properly but also not having to sell a kidney to cover costs.

Many Thanks,


Updated about 1 month ago

Spoke to a rehabber who said to turn the power on, and let the sump pump eject the water. Not sure how that would work with standing water in the basement. Plus the fuse box is likely down there...so just trying to figure out the best way to approach.

@Atul Kaushal Unfortunately if you want it done right, then you may have to pay a bit of money. When it comes to water damage and especially mold, you don't want to take any chances due to health implications and the threat of spread/infestation. And if it just sits for another 30 days, it's going to be brutal down there. I would just start with seeing if you can turn the power on and if you rehabber is correct. You also may want to get quotes from local companies that specialize in this stuff. The bigger companies tend to charge more than the smaller guys. At least that's the experience I've had in San Diego, CA.

@Atul Kaushal

Get some airflow thru there somehow. When you can get the power on do so, and put dehumidifiers in there. Clean your gutters and re direct downspouts. Fix/install a sump pump.

Get some good masks, gloves and a paint suit and remove what you want to demo. When the weather allows run the furnace set at least at 70 degrees even if its empty to help control the humidity.

Hi Atul,

Waste water from the sewer backing up is a lot less fun than clean water.

Where did the water come from; foundation leaks, sewage backup; pipe break; etc...(???)

If it were mine, and it was fresh water I'd use a gas powered water pump (rental), let it air dry with open windows and figure out why it had water in it.

If it's black water I'd have it pumped out by a company, and then the area would need to be sterilized.

Then fix the water intrusion, then address any mold issues.


Step one: 4000 watt gas generator, 2 x 5 gallon gas tanks, 200 feet of hose, submersible sump pump - get the water out immediately. Stop mold algae mosquitos and a fine from the city for the health nuisance. Once you get it out to a few inches add a gallon of pool bleach to kill the critters. Where can you pump it down hill?   

Step two: Now the big job: what caused the mess, how to prevent it in the future, how to clean up the mess? To get the answers you need a professional. I'm not talking about a remediation company you need a licensed contractor who builds foundations, repairs basement walls, you probably have plumbing repairs as well.

@Scott Mac I own two submersible pumps that cost about $41 each. That plus a separate gasoline generator have gotten me through: fires, flooding, pool over flow, and power outages. @Atul Kaushal I'm a "girl" who learned how to fix everything then learned when I need to sub out things that I cannot handle quickly. Time is your enemy in a vacant property. Invest in tools and the knowledge of construction, as those two things save money. You can nip a disaster in the bud, and know when a contractor bid is honest.  

We run into this frequently, most of the time its obvious where the water is coming from, usually it flooded from the power being turned off to the sump pumps. 

As others have mentioned buy or rent a fire hose type gas powered pump that will pump all the water out in an hour or two, they will take it down to last couple inches, then sump pump will handle the rest. 

We rent a couple large dehumidifiers and yiu can dry the place up pretty quickly. 

Mold remediation, check with other rehabbers, or top agents that work with investors are good source. 

What used to cost me 10k plus, costs me about 2,500 today, to get remediation done, with fully qualified remediation contractor, providing warranty for work done. 

Good luck!

@Atul Kaushal

Update: We got a generator and pumped out the water. It took a few hours. There were 2 sump pumps and one was dead so we replaced it.

Then I had to get ComEd to turn on the power….. we turned off the mains at the box and waited. And waited. And waited.

Finally we got the power on and flipped on the breakers for the pumps only.

Need to wait a few weeks for the court to confirm the sale at auction before spending too much. We figured the pumping and the power was a worthwhile investment.

Found a remediation team through another investor but it’s not going to be cheap. House was vacant for over a year with no power since winter 2019 so the basement need to be totally gutted. Would also like to have experienced professionals check the integrity of the structure and major systems. Then I’ll have my GC go in for the finishing work.

Thank you for all the great suggestions! I’ll keep the group updated on the work!