6 Tips on Protecting Your Basement from Moisture Problems
With April showers just around the corner, many people are facing the ongoing battle of keeping the basement dry. In fact, the American Society of Home Inspectors estimates that “60 percent of US homes have wet basements.” Wet basements may be a common problem, but that doesn’t mean the problem isn’t serious.
A wet basement isn’t just an inconvenient hassle for homeowners to deal with. It can pose real problems to your health, home, and property. Any form of moisture can result in harmful mold, damage to anything stored down there, or costly repairs to your foundation. Be ready for the rain with the following tips on how to keep a basement dry.
Where is the Water Coming From?
Rain isn’t the only culprit when it comes to water problems in the basement. While rainwater and snowmelt are common sources of flooding, there are also the potential issues of subsurface seeping, humidity, condensation, poor ventilation, or a leaking pipe.
If you notice a musty smell, mysterious cracks, or general dampness in your basement, you need to identify the source of the problem before you can solve it. If all looks well, follow these waterproofing-your-basement tips to prevent a problem before it starts. This is how to keep a basement dry year-round.
How to Keep a Basement Dry
- Insulate Your Cold-Water Pipes
There are many good reasons to insulate any exposed water pipes in your basement. Insulating hot water pipes helps conserve energy by keeping your water heater from overworking. But insulating your cold-water pipes is also a smart move. Insulation can prevent your cold-water pipes from freezing when the temperature is at its lowest.
More to the point, it also limits the condensation forming along them when the humidity is high. The basement is likely the most humid place in your home, and cold-water pipes will “sweat” as humidity increases. This sustained dampness in a dark, enclosed space presents ideal conditions for mold colonies to grow.
- Make Sure Your Landscaping Isn’t Damaging Your Foundation
If your landscaping is causing water to accumulate around your foundation, that’s a problem. You want that water to be directed away by a downward slope. It may be the case that your home was built without this being taken into account, or this slope has changed over time to a less useful angle.
Keep an eye on your foundation wall during heavy rains. If water isn’t being effectively directed away, get some simple landscaping done to improve the grading. Fill in areas that are pulling water down toward your basement. Also, surrounding your foundation with gravel or small rocks is a strong measure to absorb unwanted moisture.
- Improve Ventilation and Humidity
Excessive basement humidity can be a major source of mold growth. Take steps to control the humidity level by using a dehumidifier (or multiple dehumidifiers, if needed) and/or installing an exhaust fan. Make sure that your clothes dryer is properly venting air outside. Take advantage of sunny days to circulate some fresh air through an open window, if your basement has one.
- Waterproof Your Basement Walls and Floors
First, if you use your basement as a furnished living space, we strongly recommend that you take some steps to waterproof walls and floors. Use a waterproof sealant on concrete walls and floors to prevent water from seeping through. A thick coat of water-resistant paint on the walls will stop them from gathering condensation.
If cracks are appearing on your basement floor, it could indicate a serious structural problem. However, most of these cracks don’t require serious foundation repair. If the cracks are heaving, that requires professional attention, as there could be cracks in the foundation.
Otherwise, the concern isn’t structural – the concern is that the cracks will let in water or gasses like radon from the soil beneath. Applying a waterproof sealant to cracked surfaces can help prevent this from happening. Hydraulic cement will seal up cracks and stop leaks from coming through.
- Make Sure Gutters and Downspouts are Working Properly
Another important precaution is to make sure that your gutters and downspouts are working as an effective drainage system. Rainwater should be gathered and diverted away from your foundation. Keep your gutters and downspouts clean and free of debris as often as possible.
If working properly, your gutters and downspouts prevent all the rain and melting snow on your rooftop from just spilling over the edge down to the foundation. Downspout extensions can help keep puddles from gathering where they shouldn’t if the slope of the landscape isn’t doing its part.
- Install a Sump Pump to Help Keep Your Basement Dry
One highly effective way to keep out unwanted moisture is to install a sump pump. This is another measure worth taking if you use your basement as a living space. Whether you use it as a workout room, an office, or a home bar and recreation room, you need to eliminate any possibility of flooding.
Install a sump pump within a small basin or “sump pit” in a basement or crawl space. Water gathers at this low point and is pumped out and away from the home, keeping the surrounding area dry. This maximizes the comfort and safety of the space and minimizes the risk of mold growth, flooding, or structural damage.
Get the Most Out of Your Basement by Keeping the Moisture Out
Use these tips on how to keep a basement dry to avoid a moisture disaster this spring! Keep an eye out for unwanted moisture in your basement. You can protect your home and property from costly damage. More importantly, get the most out of that space, taking advantage of it as another room in your home.
Lastly, if you’re interested in exploring what a sump pump can do for your basement, and you’re located in South Jersey, contact Laury Heating Cooling & Plumbing for a free quote!