Basements are notorious for attracting moisture, which can cause unpleasant odors. If dampness issues are not corrected, they could lead to cosmetic or structure damage in your home, along with other potential problems.
Simply rerouting gutters or running a dehumidifier easily addresses many wet basement issues. However, if the culprit is caused by improper drainage or ground water, it may be more involved.
Here are eight tips to help you alleviate moisture buildup in your basement.
#1 Extend and Reroute Gutters
Adding additional footage to a gutter system above ground will help reroute water further from your house. The process simply requires using gutter extensions that dump water at least five feet from the house. The downside to this is the metal or plastic gutter pieces lying on the ground may impede a walking path or make lawn care more difficult. The optimal long-term solution is extending the system underground with drainage pipes.
#2 Repair Small Leaks
Plumbing leaks are a common cause for basement moisture and even a small leak at a piping seam or a hairline crack can result in a wet basement. For small leaks, a polyurethane caulk or hydraulic cement will provide a quick-fix solution. However, if the moisture areas are directly on the floor or walls, it is a more serious issue that involves groundwater or invisible plumbing problems.
#3 Slope Soil Away from House
Ideally, the soil should slope downward away from the foundation of your house, which will allow surface water to properly drain. Otherwise, water will accumulate and seep through basement walls. You can effectively rebuild the slope by adding a mixture of clay and loam or other recommended soil around the foundation. The soil should be added at least ten feet around the entire house in a down slope of six inches or more, slightly away from the foundation. This process will restore the “crown.
#4 Landscape to Reroute Water
A crown is not always the ideal solution because adding dirt close to the foundation where the siding ends, could promote rot or termites. Other methods for diverting water away from the house include building a berm or creating a swale. A berm requires adding dirt and works well for small problem areas. However, when addressing a larger surface area, the swale, or ditch would be the most cost effective solution. Once the ground area has been reshaped, landscaping foliage can help make the areas attractive.
#5 Check Plumbing Drainage
If you notice leaks near the seams of the basement floor and walls, it is likely due to a hydro static pressure issue in the plumbing. During the house construction, plumbing would have been installed underground to route water away from the house and these can clog over time. The drain can be unclogged either at the footing drain or a manhole located in the basement floor. The pipes can be flushed with a garden hose through this drainage point, or a plumber can take care of the clog using an augur.
#6 Install a Trench
Consider adding a shallow trench that is two feet deep and eighteen inches wide as a way to capture surface water and move it from beneath the foundation. This trench design, also referred to as a curtain drain, or French drain, consists of adding perforated piping and gravel so it will capture the water and route it away from your house.
#7 Use a Water Pump
When subsurface water can’t be properly rerouted from the outside, there is the option of adding an interior drainage system that collects the water in a tank. This method requires creating a channel in the basement floor along the perimeter of the walls and adding perforated pipe in the path that leads to a collection tank that is attached to a sump pump that drains to the outside for water removal.
#8 Use Waterproof Paint on the Walls
You can waterproof moist basement walls using a high-quality impermeable paint. However, this is not addressing the real problem of exterior water.
If underground water or exterior draining is the issue, opt for professional recommendations. Small moisture issues can be addressed with do-it-yourself methods, however, without a permanent solution, you’re still at risk for problems.
The Author Adam Clark is the owner and operator of Shield Guard Home Inspections. Adam Clark is a local Home Inspector located in Albany NY that has performed over 6000 Inspections
Phone: (518) 720-7152