How to Fix a Damp Basement

A damp basement is just about every homeowner’s worst nightmare, and any homeowner is aware of how expensive of a fix this can be, especially if left untreated for so long.  Lingering water and excess moisture can seep into a house’s foundation, sometimes causing irreparable damages and weakening the house’s structural integrity.

damp basement solutions

Mold and bacteria growth is nearly unavoidable in a damp or wet basement, and with their presence, health concerns can arise.

A wet basement is a common issue, so much so that the American Society of Home Inspectors states that nearly 60% of American homes share this problem.  It’s essential to know what you can do to fix a damp basement before the problem worsens and you find yourself with not only a space you cannot use but with a laundry list of problems that need fixing.

Finding the Source of Moisture in Your Basement

Fixing a damp basement requires a little investigative work beforehand.  By understanding and diagnoses the water’s origin, you can get to work on fixing the problem at hand.  Water in a basement can come from two sources, inside humidity, or from the outside.

Water will find the path of least resistance, and sometimes that is directly into your basement.  To catch the water problem that is causing indoor humidity early on, you can employ an easy trick to detect water leakage.  Tape aluminum foil to the basement walls, and after a good rainstorm when the air feels muggy and sticky, check to see if water has formed on the outside of the foil.

Water on the outside of the foil indicates high indoor humidity, while water behind the foil demonstrates that water is leaking through the walls.  This trick will help you diagnose the problem quickly, letting you know if you either need to run a dehumidifier or consider waterproofing your basement to channel outside water from seeping in.

Seal Vents with Tape and Insulate Pipes

Indoor humidity can come from aspects of a basement like dryer vents and basement windows, things that have access to the outside and are a potential source of moisture leakage.  Seal your dryer vents with specialized tape designed to last longer than other materials, like duct tape.  If moisture is an issue on the dryer vent, then the adhesive on duct tape will not last very long.

Cold pipes can procure condensation, causing water to drip to your basement floor.  While there’s not much you can do to change the temperature of these cold pipes, you can get some insulation and wrap it around the pipes to contain the condensation and keep it at a minimum.

Foam insulation is cheap and can be custom cut with a simple scissor snip to fit over any pipe.  This can do wonders for stopping the pipes from dripping and keeping your basement dry.  The best part is that it is a cost-effective solution that takes about five minutes to do.

Check the Condition of Your Basement Windows

Windows can be a huge problem for excess moisture that causes a damp basement.  Even the slightest crack or gap in a basement window can introduce water to your basement. Many homeowners overlook replacing basement windows, but replacement windows can help immensely with energy efficiency and keeping basements dry.

Glass block windows are an excellent option for homeowners looking for a secure window that offers privacy and still filters in plenty of light to avoid that dingy basement look.  Glass block windows can be installed by novice do-it-yourselfers at a relatively cheap cost.

Grab a Dehumidifier and Keep it Running

Try to keep basement windows closed if you are experiencing a damp basement.  This will eliminate potential moisture coming from the outside and the inside by keeping condensation and humidity at bay.  Invest in a good dehumidifier to suck up extra humidity and moisture in the air.

This will ensure that your basement is dry so long as you keep the dehumidifier running.  A dehumidifier is a low cost in comparison to having to fix foundational issues due to moisture seepage.

Focus on the Walls

Your basement walls are already working overtime; so don’t let water leakage from weakening them.  There are few things you can do to help out your basement walls that will keep your basement dry, cool, and livable.

Insulating the basement walls will not only help keep the basement dry but also assist in regulating the temperature of the basement.  Insulation keeps your home energy efficient, which translates to you saving more money on your monthly energy bills.  However, if the water problem is coming from the outside and leaking into your walls, then you will need to further waterproof your basement to prevent a mold problem from occurring.

Use hydraulic cement to patch holes, gaps, and cracks in your basement’s foundation.  This is more of a temporary solution if you have serious outside water problems, in which case you will need to consult with professionals to have your basement waterproofed.

Don’t forget about applying a fresh coat of paint to take an extra step in doing all you can to waterproof your basement.  Not only will this new coat of paint look clean and refreshed, brightening up your basement, but also it will help keep water from leaking in.  This easy and small project can stop water from seeping in through the basement’s porous walls.

Channel Water Away from the Foundation

Water can find its way from the outside, as well, this much is a given.  If you are in an older home, there is a chance that the piping and gutter system has been neglected and needs to be unclogged, repaired, or replaced.  Have a drainage company come to inspect your pipes at least twice a year to ensure that water is being channeled away from your home and that the pipes are clear and unobstructed.

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Clean your gutters at least twice a year, as well, and this will help direct water away from your foundation.

Check your downspouts, too, because you may need a downspout extender to really push the water far away from your foundation.  Downspouts extenders are a cheap solution to what could be an expensive problem.  Just like a dehumidifier or an extra coat of waterproofing paint, this is an easy step to take in keeping your basement nice and dry.

Be Vigilant and Observant

As a homeowner, you want to actually use your basement, so don’t let water problems ruin a big part of your home.  Take these steps to waterproof your basement, and if the problem persists, then call in a professional.  Although no homeowner wants to shell out the money to professionally waterproof their basement, it is a necessary step to take in order to utilize a basement to its full potential.

Regardless of how you use your basement, whether it’s a finished bar or movie room, or just a place for storage and laundry, water problems can weaken your home from the foundation and up.  Keep an eye on the indoor humidity levels of your basement and check to see if water is finding its way from the outside.

By being vigilant and stopping the problem quickly, you could be saving yourself hundreds or thousands of dollars of repairs.

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