Causes & Fixes for a Damp Basement

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Home Improvement

One of the most frustrating problems a homeowner can face is a damp basement. A damp basement is caused by moisture accumulating in your basement. This can happen because of an interior problem or an exterior problem. Meaning there's an issue with something inside your home or outside the home. The number one cause of moisture in your basement is water from the soil making its way inside. If water isn't being directed away from your home then it's going to end up in your home through cracks in the walls and floor. Here are signs you may have a water issue in your basement:

- Mold and mildew on the walls and floors
- Moisture on the windows (which can lead to mold)
- Water stains on the floor or walls
- Musty smell and other damp odors
- Wet walls
- Paint is peeling
- Efflorescence (white powder on wall surfaces and floors)

If you're noticing any of these in your home, you'll want to find out where the problem is coming from.

One of the easier problems to have is condensation. This can likely be resolved by using a dehumidifier.

Improper grading is another problem. If you have improper grading around your foundation than water will start to find its way inside you home. This can lead to cracks in your foundation wall and can eventually start to hurt the integrity of your foundation. Depending on the scope of work that needs done to correct the grading around your home, you might be able to do it yourself or you may need to hire the work out to a professional who has the right equipment and know how to truly fix the issue without making different grading issues in the process.

Gutters can be another cause. You will want to check your gutters several times a year to make sure they aren't blocked. Blocked gutters can lead to water overflowing from them instead of going down the downspouts and away from the home. Depending on the number of trees around your home, you may have to check the gutters more frequently.

Shifted concrete: The ground underneath your concrete driveway, patio, walkways can shift causing the concrete to start slanting toward your house instead of away from it. This can cause water to start moving toward your home instead of away from it.

Moisture in the soil: One of the main causes for water in your basement, this can occur when your basement isn't properly waterproof. Water can find its way in through cracks in the floor and walls. You will want to fill in those cracks.

Water in the basement can also be caused by leaking pipes. This is easiest when the basement is unfinished and you can see the pipes and repair them easily. However, if drywall or ceiling tiles are covering the pipes, the repair may be more invasive.

Broken drain tile / no drain tile: It is code for most newer homes to have a drain tile system. This system's purpose is to collect water and direct it away from your home. If you have an older home, you might not have this drain system. And keep in mind the drain tile can also be damaged and need repairs. A new drain tile system or repairs to an existing one will require a professional.

You should also check your sump pump to make sure it's functioning properly. A broken sump pump should be replaced to ensure it's working when you need it to.

Whatever the cause, water in your basement is something you, as a homeowner, will want to have taken care of in a timely manner because it can often lead to other more damaging and costly problems.