Our basement from hell: need advice
We've been living in our 1939 Florida home since 1974. It's rare in our location but we actually have a tiny basement that used to hold the furnace, but now is home to an air handler. There's a sump pump that has handled excess water perfectly well all this time. One major flood during a hurricane but otherwise it's stayed pretty dry and we haven't had mildew or mold problems.
However, three years ago the sump pump failed and a rainstorm led to a lot of water in the basement. Because we were traveling for several months our house was closed, and we returned to a bad mildew/mold problem (I'm not sure there was mold) on the first floor of our house.
Florida property insurance policies exclude damage from sump pump malfunctions, so we replaced the sump pump, paid to clean the furnishings on the main floor and cleaned the mildew on the stairway walls and shelves leading down to the basement. We got an estimate to clean the whole basement for $5000 (based on a remediation specialist's finding of a little mold but needing to follow federal protocols), but we decided not to do it since the specialist told us he thought we really didn't need anything that extreme.
So here we are. The basement is a mess, as you can see from the link at the bottom, with some water leakage after rainstorms, and it's dirty. There's a powdery mildew looking substance on most of the the ceiling support beams but it's hard to clean them because there are lots of nails. But the basement doesn't smell and I think/hope/pray that for the most part (except for a couple of specific areas where wood is rotting) there's not any mold, though places look black in photographs.
Since we close our house during the summer months every year and head north, I'm trying to decide what steps to take to reduce the chance of this happening again. This forum looks like a great place to get some advice. I have tried to locate the source of the incoming water but haven't yet found it. We are going to install a dehumidifier that will discharge directly into the sump pump container, and I want to get some safe electric outlets put in since right now we're stringing wires across wet floors.
What I'm hoping is that some of you who are experts in basements (Worthy, your name comes to mind immediately) can give me some advice about what sort of assistance to try to get to help us identify the leak and figure out how much cleaning we need to do and how to do it without the assistance of insurance. My husband is hoping that the dehumidifier alone will be enough but I fear that without some more specific cleaning we may have to deal with more mildew/mold when we come back in the fall.
Here is a link that might be useful: Basement from hell