A damp basement is not only unpleasant, but can also be dangerous for your family. The humidity from a damp basement can lead to rot in the wood structures in your home. There's also a big potential for mold and mildew to build up, which can lead to respiratory or other health problems. With a little bit of time, labor and cash, you can dry out a damp basement and get rid of these uncomfortable problems.
Step 1: Put the Towels to Use
Open up any windows in the basement to get plenty of air flowing through. Walk around in the basement in your bare feet, to locate any areas of the carpet that are especially damp. If you've had minor flooding, you'll probably find spots that sound "squishy" underneath your feet, or you might even get your feet wet. Lay down the towels or rags on any problem spots, and step on them soak up as much moisture as possible. Discard the towels when you're done, or hang them out to dry before washing them.
Step 2: Run the Shop Vac
A wet/dry vac can pull up a lot of moisture from damp carpets, at least in the early stages. Be systematic and vacuum from one corner. Vacuum up as much moisture as you can, paying special attention to the areas where you soaked up a lot of moisture with the towels.
Step 3: Remove Carpeting
One of the biggest problems with a damp basement is dealing with the carpets. They'll have to be pulled up so the flooring underneath can be sufficiently dried out. If you don't want to remove the carpet entirely, you can just roll it up in stages and dry out the flooring one piece at a time, but this will add a few days to the whole process. However, it is easier than removing the entire carpet and putting it back in when you're done.
Step 4: Run the Fans
Set up the fans so they'll be blowing over the exposed basement flooring. Set them on "Oscillate" so you can have a lot of air circulating in the room. Depending on how damp the basement is (if you've had minor flooding, for example), it can take up to 48 hours to dry things out. Note that if the windows aren't open, it will take much longer to dry out the damp basement.
Step 5: Run the Ozone Generator
Mold and mildew need oxygen (O2) to flourish. An ozone generator creates ozone (O3) which is effective in killing mold and mildew, and removing odor. The good news is, your basement will smell like a beautiful waterfall while the generator is running. The bad news is, you'll get a headache if you spend too much time around it. Make sure the house is well ventilated at all times, and follow all safety precautions that come with the generator.
Step 6: Seal Basement Cracks
Search the edges of the basement flooring for any cracks where moisture could be seeping in. Seal with foam sealant to help prevent future leaks.
Step 7: Replace Carpet
Once your damp basement has been dried off, replace the carpet. Tack it back down with the staple gun. If the carpeting is too far gone, now is a good time to replace it.