Basements tend to be dark because of their location, and they are also notoriously damp. This is primarily due to the fact that there’s not a lot of natural light and ventilation available to help facilitate the proper evaporation of moisture.
And while basement moisture is a very common thing, it’s usually not a major concern. However, there are instances when persistent moisture in the basement could lead to more significant problems.
Too much basement moisture can cause toxic mold growth as well as mildew. It can also lead to other types of biological growth, like plants and insects. When left unattended, things can get worse, leading to more serious issues like rot and decay, structural damage, paint issues, and a whole host of health problems.
Therefore, it’s crucial to be proactive in finding out the cause/s and nipping them in the bud to save yourself from stress, as well as time and money costs in the long term.
Below are some common causes of basement moisture and what can be done to fix them.
Common Sources of Basement Moisture
There are several possible causes of basement moisture. These include:
- Cracks in the foundation
- Drainage problems
- Indoor water leaks
- Landscaping errors
- Missing, misplaced, or damaged gutters
- Walls that aren’t waterproof
All these factors can contribute to the proliferation of moisture in your basement.
If moisture issues consistently plague your basement, the following information could help address the problem.
When warm, moist air comes into contact with the cool basement walls and floor, condensation occurs, leading to the formation of moisture.
The Fix: Check the dryer exhaust and central air conditioner to see if they are clear and functioning properly. You could also look into installing an exhaust fan or dehumidifier, improving air circulation (e.g., eliminating clutter, installing air conditioning vents, etc.), and insulating your basement.
Cracks in the foundation
Cracks in the foundation of a house aren’t really a cause for alarm as these usually appear as the structure settles in. In fact, even newly poured concrete can have cracks.
However, cracks in the foundation walls comprising the ceiling and external basement structure can mean more water coming in from the house itself and during inclement weather. The water itself can cause or worsen preexisting cracks. So if water accumulates and hydrostatic pressure builds up against the foundation walls, the cracks could get big enough to cause major structural damage.
The Fix: Minor cracks can be resolved with patching cement. However, it’s always best to seek professional help to be able to tell with certainty which cracks are minor and which ones are not, and fix the problem once and for all.
Old houses without subterranean drainage systems usually encounter basement moisture problems. Still, even newer homes with a drainage system could get compromised if there’s pressure from the house or the ground, leading to clogged pipes, a failing sump pump or connection issues. Any type of malfunction – when left unattended – could lead the whole system to fail and experience more serious, costly problems.
The Fix: Drainage system issues require the expertise of competent plumbing professionals so you get the assurance the problem will be solved for good.
Indoor water leaks
If there’s a leak somewhere in your home, it’s the likely cause of the accumulation of water and dampness in your basement. Ascertain the source of the leak by checking water connections and fixtures in your kitchen, bathroom and laundry, as well as the rest of your plumbing system.
The Fix: Get a plumber to determine the source of the leak and get the pipe or fixture replaced.
When the grading around your residence is properly done, the slope faces outwards and away from your house. This ensures precipitation like rain, snow, and sleet slide away from your property and goes toward the street and sewer. However, if the grading is incorrectly done, water will accumulate and seep into the basement.
The Fix: You can ask an architect to rework the sloping and advise you on other precautionary measures you can take to prevent the problem from reoccurring.
Missing, misplaced or, damaged gutters
The primary function of gutters and downspouts is to direct rainwater out and away from your home. So if there are leaks or missing shingles or improperly placed or clogged gutters, the rainwater can pool near the foundation and gradually make its way to the basement.
The Fix: If the gutters are clogged, you’ll have to clean them. But if the problem concerns the gutter installation, get in touch with a guttering contractor so they can fix it for you.
Walls that aren’t waterproof
Walls are susceptible to excess basement moisture and can “wilt,” thereby leading to cracks and faults, which, in turn, can exacerbate water seepage and cause major structural damage.
The Fix: For this kind of problem, basement waterproofing by professionals is necessary. Basement waterproofing can be done by using extremely water-resistant paint or installing a waterproofing membrane. This solution can insulate the basement against all kinds of water seepage, improve the durability of your basement and increase its functional lifespan.
A strong waterproofing application should help the basement surface make it through foundation distress and changing landscapes. After all, the basement is supposed to be the most resilient room in your whole house.
Know the Signs of Basement Moisture
While a certain level of dampness is to be expected in a basement, be on the lookout for the following signs that indicate a serious moisture problem:
- Damaged floorboards and carpets
- Heavy humid air
- Smell of rot and mildew
- Rings of dampness along the wall bases
- Water stains on the wall and paint that’s peeling off prematurely
- Wetness, condensation, or water dripping on the walls and floor
Why You Need to Fix Basement Moisture Issues
When serious basement moisture issues are left unattended, they could lead to costly major structural damage to your home. Health issues (e.g., breathing problems and allergies) could also arise due to toxic mold and mildew, as well as dust mites and other microorganisms that proliferate in damp conditions.
How to Fix It
Once you identify the problem, it’s crucial to engage the help of professionals immediately – whether you need to fix the grading, drainage, ventilation, plumbing, gutters, or need basement waterproofing to be done.
Try to avoid DIY fixes, as errors committed in your attempts to address the problem on your own can worsen the issue.
Nip Moisture in the Bud by Getting Expert Help
Moisture in the basement is not necessarily a major issue. However, when it persists and worsens, it’s crucial to find the cause and get the problem fixed with the help of professionals.
This way, you can avoid the structural issues and health problems that usually accompany basement damp or water concerns.
For help with basement moisture problems, please contact us at Moisture Loc.