I recently viewed a vacant house for sale that was nice except that the partially finished basement got flooded just enough to saturate the carpets and cover every piece of drywall, door, and trim with nasty black mold. It was even on the concrete on the unfinished side.

It's clear the sump backed up from the recent storm and no one knew the pump quit. I was considering what it would take to bring this house back into shape. If I bought it, I'd certainly have a mold abatement specialist look at it. If the report shows the mold didn't spread beyond the basement, would I expect to run into any issues by simply demolishing the finished area's carpet, drywall and framing and then bleaching all the remaining surfaces?

In other words, assuming no further flooding the house may become livable but will the basement always smell funny? What are the chances mold can come back in the bad way? Would there be any long term health risks after the cleanup?

  • 1
    This is not an answer to your question, but in my opinion I would stay away from the house. Mold is very very hard to get rid of once it appears. And then since the house has a flooding issue already, there is a great chance that it will flood again (which will make the mold easily grow again). A dry basement is always on the top of my list when looking at a house. Jul 30, 2010 at 19:07
  • Note the sump pump was the cause of the flood. The house is not in a flood plane or near any large bodies of water.
    – spoulson
    Jul 30, 2010 at 19:19
  • About every recently built house with a basement in my area (Delaware) has a sump pump as a precaution. The predominant red clay soil may be a factor in this practice. This house is about 8-10 years old. e.g. My current house has one and it does kick on from time to time during storms or hot/humid days when the AC condensation builds up in the sump.
    – spoulson
    Jul 30, 2010 at 19:34
  • 1
    Something to consider as well is if an insurance claim was filed for flood and / or mold this will stay with the house. This information will be disclosed to any future potential home buyer.
    – Scott P
    Jul 31, 2010 at 22:32

2 Answers 2


On some TV show I was watching, they showed the cleanup of a house with a severe mold problem. The procedure was to strip everything back to the studs and subfloor and clean with a media-blaster. Instead of sand, they used small dry ice pellets. It basically took off the top layer of wood from the studs and rafters. Since it was dry ice, there was no cleanup except the sawdust. You are probably looking at doing something like this, and it won't be cheap.


I agree with Jeff's comment on this one. Once the mold smell is in there it's hard to get rid of. I've been in houses with moldy basements and they tried to use bleach to clear it up. The bleach cleaned out the mold but the smell still lingered.

One thing you COULD try (and I'm not saying this'll work) is to hire a company that specializes in flood or crime scene cleanup. They have chemicals that can probably get rid of the mold smell for you. I'm not sure about the expense involved (I doubt it will be cheap) but it just may work for you.

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