5 Ways to Help Keep Your Basement Dry

By:    |   Published October 25, 2017
Damp spot in the corner of a concrete room next to a window.

Water in your basement can be a nightmare. Whether it’s a flood or chronic dampness, you could be looking at expensive clean-up and repair costs. The best way to keep your basement dry is to take action now, before an emergency strikes.

But what are the best steps to keep a basement dry? Get tips to keep water out of your basement and learn the warning signs that might indicate a breach in your foundation from EverDry Toledo, serving Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan.

The Best Steps to Take to Keep Your Basement Dry

#1. Keep Water Away from Your Foundation

Water typically enters your basement by seeping in along the foundation. Your home has a few defenses against this, but they need to be maintained to keep them working.

The first major step is to inspect and clean your downspouts and gutters. They help direct the flow of water away from your foundation. However, debris builds over time and can cause blockage. When your gutters or downspouts don’t work correctly, the water spills over the sides – right against your home. When this happens, the water can saturate the ground near your foundation and seep in.

Secondly, pay attention to the grading of your landscaping. It’s ideal that your home has a slight pitch away from your home. Sometimes this wasn’t done during the original construction. Other times, the pitch can wear away over time.

Look for potential problem areas and consider filling them in to improve the slope away from your home. This is particularly important during the winter, especially with the snowfall that happens here in northwest Ohio! When that snow melts against your home, the lack of proper grading can spell disaster for your basement.

#2. Seal Your Interior Walls & Floors

You can take extra steps to waterproof the walls and floor of your basement interior by using waterproof sealant on the bare concrete or masonry. These special sealants will form a solid membrane over the surface of your basement, preventing small leaks of water.

It’s important to apply a thick coat of sealant. The sealant needs to fill every tiny pore of your masonry to form the appropriate seal. Don’t be too conservative as you apply it, or you may render it ineffective.

Keep in mind that sealant is not a solution to cracks or existing leaks. You should only apply it when your basement isn’t leaking.

For basement walls, you could also choose to go with a product like DuraShield™. It creates a vapor shield to prevent moisture while also giving you a finished basement appearance.

#3. Use a Dehumidifier

Air moves through homes like a chimney – it escapes to higher levels and is replaced from the bottom up. This is one of the major causes of basement humidity, particularly when the air outside is humid. Because of this, and other factors like moisture permeating through foundation walls, basements tend to be more humid than other levels of your home.

The best way to help mitigate this extra humidity is through a dehumidifier. Your basement’s size will dictate the size of dehumidifier you need.

You’ll also need to pay attention to the natural humidity levels in your basement. Prevent mold by keeping your humidity below 50 percent. However, going to low will create an environment where viruses thrive too. The ideal humidity is somewhere between 30 and 50 percent – so make sure not to set your dehumidifier too low.

#4. Insulate Your Cold-Water Pipes

It’s popular for homeowners to insulate pipes to prevent winter freezing or to reduce heat loss. Another great reason to insulate pipes is to prevent sweating. During hot, humid days, cold water pipes can lead to condensation building around them. These sweating pipes will contribute to the overall moisture in your basement, especially as they drip.

Foam insulation is incredibly cheap and easy to install. The foam protects your pipes from dripping all over your basement. During the winter, the insulation can help prevent drafts that might otherwise freeze them, too. Overall, for the few minutes it takes to cut inexpensive foam pipe wrap, it’s a great investment to protect your home and basement.

#5. Patch Holes/Cracks Early

The smallest crack in your foundation is all it takes to let water begin seeping into your home. If you’ve noticed moisture on the interior walls of your basement, you need to identify the source and decide if it’s possible to fix by yourself.

Most homes develop cracks over time as they age. Whether due to shrinkage, settlement or regional issues like frost heave, your foundation will likely crack at some point. Catch these cracks early by walking through your basement and looking under furniture, rugs or behind anything hanging on the walls. The sooner you notice them, the easier they are to fix!

For very thin cracks, you can simply fill them with waterproofing compound. However, if the holes or cracks are too large, you need to clean them out and patch them first. This can be done with a cold chisel to chip away any loose materials.

Holes or cracks that are too large for simple patching suggest a bigger problem with your foundation. If you notice a big breach in your basement wall or floor, call a professional before the situation gets worse.

Tips for Identifying Moisture in Your Basement

#1. Look for Signs of Water Damage

In addition to cracks or holes, peeling paint can be an obvious indicator that your basement has moisture problems. Don’t ignore your nose either – sometimes you can smell a musty or damp odor, even when you can’t see it.

#2. Look for the Moisture Source

Even when you find moisture on a wall, it’s not always easy to figure out where it came from. Is it leaking from outside, or simply condensation? One trick you can use is to tape aluminum foil to your wall. Let it sit for a day and come back. If the moisture is on the exposed side, your problems are likely humidity. If it’s underneath the foil, your foundation is letting in water.

#3. Keep an Eye Open for Mold

One of the most obvious indicators of water in your basement is mold. It can’t live or grow without a source of moisture. If you find mold, just cleaning it won’t be enough. Remove the visible mold and see where its source of water is. You may be able to patch the crack, but if not, contact a specialist immediately. The mold will keep coming back until your foundation is fixed.

#4. Don’t Ignore Critters

Small insects in your basement aren’t just a nuisance. They’re also telltale signs of moisture. Insects need a few things: ideal temperatures, food and moisture. Cooler basements with moisture are one of their favorite places to take up residence. An occasional bug doesn’t necessarily mean you have leaks, but it’s worth investigating when you spot one.

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Schedule Your FREE 20-Point Inspection

The best way to keep your basement dry is with professional waterproofing. EverDry Toledo can help with a FREE 20-point basement inspection! We’ll help you find out if your home is at risk for water damage and which solutions will best serve you.

Contact us online to schedule an appointment or give us a call at (419) 469-5833 and schedule your inspection today!

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