Monday, September 15, 2008

Rain, rain, go away! (in other words, take a hike, Ike!)

Well, for the past few days we've been having rain, and plenty of it! Chicagoland broke the previous record for inches of rain this weekend. There has been lots of flooding in the area, and I know of many people who had water in their basements--I'm one of them. For us, it was coming in through the walls, and in a couple of places it was seeping up through the basement floor tiles. And through the bricks in the fireplace. Luckily, we noticed it before it got deep, and I set to work with my handy shop vac and tons of towels. Of course Jon was out of town until Sunday afternoon, so I was on my own until then.

The rain barrel was overflowing right away, and since it's right next to the house, I had to reset the downspout to go back into the storm sewer. Once we get the water level down a bit in there, I'll put the down spout back to the barrel. It really helps that we connected it with a flexible "hose" that was pretty easy to maneuver back towards the sewer downspout.

The pond that had formed in our back yard is still sinking into the ground (although it stopped raining yesterday) and thus, into one wall crack in our basement. The crack is behind the built-in work bench, so it was hard to get to. When Jon got home, his engineering brain set in and he came up with a way to corral the water into a bucket using a cheap plastic dust pan that he screwed to a lower shelf board and braced against the wall--the water just slid down through the handle and into a bucket! The bucket needed to be emptied about every half hour, so I put a large, flat plastic box under it so we could get a few hours' sleep. It would be impossible to empty it, due to the shelf, but that's where the shop vac comes in. The leaks were on all four sides of the house, so I got a pretty good workout running between the puddles and dumping 10 gallons of water at a time down the basement sink. Not to mention hauling all the boxes that had gotten wet out to the garage to dry out before recycling them. I used to hoard boxes (ya' never know when you'll need a good box!), but now that I have the store, I have a steady supply of boxes--which I give away to anyone who needs them.

So now, I'm thinking I need to disinfect the whole basement, since I'm really allergic to mildew and mold. But what can I use that isn't chemical? Well, we all know that vinegar is a darn good cleaner/disinfectant, but do I want my basement to smell like vinegar? So I hit the internet good and hard today, and found several recipes for natural disinfectants. One said to add about 10 drops of essential oil to white distilled vinegar and that should take care of the smell. Another one said to use 1/2 teaspoon of tea tree oil & 2 cups of water--spray on and wipe off. The most intriguing, and complicated one was this:
2 cups water
1/4 cup vodka
1/4 tsp. tea tree oil
1/4 tsp. lime essential oil
1/4 tsp. grapefruit essential oil

I started to calculate the cost on that one (essential oils are kind of pricey) and then a searched for a pre-made natural disinfectant. There's one on the market called "Benefect" that is sold online at It's $40 for one gallon. Back to the recipe. . .

I think I'll just use straight vinegar and follow it up with a good mopping with Mrs. Meyer's all purpose cleaner. It smells so good, that I'm sure the vinegar smell will disappear. And Aldi has vinegar for $.69.


Jill said...

Man! Sounds like a hell of a rain. Sorry about that. Please keep us posted on the success of the natural cleaners.
The tea tree oil sounds like a good idea. It killed my foot fungus so it would probably clean a whole basement (also...cheaper than some of the essential oils)

Laura said...

Sorry about the water in your basement. We checked ours halfway through the storm, and it was about 2 inches below one of the basement windows. I don't think we checked again. Staying in denial...

Let us know how it goes. I actually like the smell of vinegar - it reminds me of summertime in the 70's - vinegar was the old-fashioned remedy we used for sunburns. But Mrs. Meyers smells pretty good too! :)

Fly Right said...

Thanks for sharing about the foot fungus, Jill! (now you've got me thinking about your foot fungus. . . *EW*EW*EW*!) But I think I'll take your advice and try it!