One of the biggest problems homeowners dread dealing with is flooding or moisture in the basement, but it’s a very common problem homeowners face during the springtime as snow and ice begins to melt and rain becomes more common again. Even a small amount of water getting into a basement can cause large amounts of damage that’s often expensive to fix. If you start seeing signs of moisture or flooding in your basement, it’s very important to deal with it right away.
Before you start taking steps to prevent water from getting into your basement, the first thing you need to do is figure out exactly where the moisture is coming from. There are several common ways to go about addressing damp basements, ranging from simply opening a window to having your basement walls waterproofed from the outside of your home. Which method is best for you largely depends on where the water is coming from.
Water can get into basements through condensation, groundwater swelling, and water runoff. A good way to figure where the water is coming from is by taping a section of aluminum foil or plastic wrap to a wall in the basement close to where you think water could be coming in and leave it there for at least 24 hours. If condensation forms on the side of the foil or plastic wrap that faces away from the wall, it means the problem is humidity in your basement. But if you see condensation on the side of the foil/plastic wrap on the side that was directly against the wall, the water is coming in from the outside of your home.
You might also want to check around your basement’s windows to see if water could be leaking in from there. If that’s the case, you might be able to solve it by re-sealing your windows or if your windows are very old or damaged, new vinyl replacement windows might be a better option.
If humidity is a problem in your basement, this is a relatively easy thing to fix. Simply getting a room dehumidifier for your basement or opening your basement windows regularly to allow air to circulate better could do the trick. These are much easier and less expensive than other basement waterproofing methods and will more effectively address the root cause of the problem.
When humidity isn’t the source of your problem, you might have problems with water runoff. Go outside and take a look around the perimeter of your home, checking to make sure the ground doesn’t slope in a way that directs water toward your home and that the downspouts from your gutters are effectively directing water away from your home. Make sure your gutters are clear and, if necessary, install extensions on your downspouts to direct water further away from your home. If the ground slopes down toward your home, talk to a landscape architect about having your yard regraded to prevent water from being directed toward your home.
Once you’ve eliminated problems on the outside of the house, go back inside and look for cracks in your basement walls. If you see small cracks in the walls, those can be patched up quite easily by using hydraulic cement and painting the walls with a waterproofing paint or concrete sealer. If you have larger cracks to deal with, call a professional to take care of them for you.
After it rains, does it feel like the water tends to stick around for a while? If so, excessive groundwater could be your problem. Since this would be an ongoing problem, call a professional to see what waterproofing method they recommend. Exterior waterproofing is the most expensive, but the most effective, option and involves excavating around your house and installing a waterproof material so that water won’t get into your home. They might also recommend an interior drainage system to manage water as it comes into your home so it doesn’t cause damage.