Solutions for a Damp Basement
A damp basement can take away one of the best storage spaces in your home. Moisture can ruin paper products, create a musty smell, and even make metal tools and pipes rust prematurely. Even more seriously, a damp environment can be the perfect environment for pests and molds, thus leading to not only the damage of objects and tools, but to your very health. Therefore, if you have a damp basement, you will first want to identify the source and then take measures to mitigate the source of moisture.
Cracks in Foundation
If the construction workers laid your foundation properly, you should not get moisture from cracking in the first few years of your home’s life—unless of course you live in a seismically active area where several small and barely noticeable shifts in the terrain may quickly lead to cracking.
Look for cracks by carefully inspecting the walls of your basement. This may require a flashlight for areas without light or moving obstructive objects out of the way. If you discover cracks, you should not necessarily be worried, but it may explain how you are getting moisture. Sometimes this is obvious as you can see a trail of water trickling in along the floor.
If this is the case, you should look to seal up the fissure so that it does not continue. This is a project best done by a contractor unless you have a bit of experience in construction.
Sometimes you will find that the problem is actually coming from above. If you do not properly maintain the gutters along the roof of your home, you may find that water pools on areas of the roof and then trickles down along interior beams. If you see water coming down off one your support beams, this is a strong possibility. Sometimes you will notice the discoloration along a wall in the home when this happens, but often the water will find an interior space and go unnoticed for a while.
If this is occurring, you will need to fix the rain gutters and replace anything that has been water damaged.
Rain Related Problems
Another possible cause for a damp basement could have to do with rain run-off. This is especially the case if you live in hills or along uneven terrain. If you find that water pools every time that it rains, this could be due to a change in run-off patterns. This can happen because of construction up the hill from your homes or just by natural shifts in turf.
If this occurs, you may need a specialist in soils or someone who specializes in building retaining walls—often the solution is to construct such a barrier. You may be tempted to avoid such an expense, but this could turn out to be the less wise course of action in the long run, as the damage of water over time can be quite profound. You should especially have the problem examined if it seems to be getting worse over time.
Another possible cause for a damp basement can be due to poor ventilation. This is especially a problem when your basement doubles as the laundry room. A basement dryer that does not spill its steam out of the home through some sort of exit will trap the moist air in the basement and lead to moisture when the walls sweat from the heat. This combination of hot air and moisture also may lead to a slippery surface along and thus higher chances of injury.
Regardless of the reason for your damp basement, you may be tempted just to throw down some rubber floor mats that will keep you from slipping or getting your shoes wet and endure it. Because of the problems we have mentioned so far, this would not be a wise course of action. It is also a bad idea however, since anything that damages your basement can lead to the destabilization of your home, and dampness or slight pooling may just be the first sign of a problem that may threaten the home’s integrity in the end.