Although you may never see it, the foundation of a home is a vital aspect to its strength and stability. A proper foundation does more than keep your house above ground: It should also keep out moisture, insulate against the cold and resist movement of the ground surrounding it. There are many factors to consider, such as drainage around your house and soil condition, to help avoid a cracked foundation. The type of soil can have a big impact on the quality and lifespan of your home’s foundation.
If walking in your basement is best done with an umbrella, you have a problem! Water condensation drops on your basement ceiling is a sure sign you are in need of help in controlling basement humidity. Not all basement humidity issues are as obvious as “rain” in your basement, but controlling basement humidity is important for your home’s foundational health as well as the health of you and your family.
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
Find & Clean the Source
The longer you wait to attack a musty basement smell, the harder it will be. Hunt through your entire basement until you locate the cause. There are plenty of places where it might be hiding – behind walls, along your tiling, or in a crawl space. Leave no box unturned and you’ll eventually find the mold or mildew, that could be growing on your floors, walls or anything stored nearby.
How you clean the mold or mildew will depend on the surface where you found it. Some cleaners are better than others – you don’t want to damage your paint or floors while cleaning the mold away. You can typically use a bleach-water combination to wipe away mold and its remnants. Finish off by rinsing the bleach away with water, and thoroughly drying the area.
Keep in mind that you’re only cleaning up the visible part of the mold. There will be more mold under the surface. Now that you know where the moisture is and the area is clean, you can assess the breach. If it’s a small crack less than 1/8”, you may be able to
fix it with a small amount of waterproofing compound
But how do you know which molds are dangerous and which are benign? It starts with knowing the properties of mold and understanding the symptoms they can cause. Read on and learn about house molds that could be affecting your family right now!
Stachybotrys Atra: Infamously Known as the “Black Mold”
Stachybotrys atra, or Stachybotyrs chartroom, is a specific type of toxic mold. This is what most people refer to when they say, “black mold.” While sometimes found in grain or soil, it’s much more frequently found in building materials that are rich in cellulose – often following water damage. High moisture content is a requirement for black mold to grow, so it is unlikely to be found in homes that are properly inspected and have been protected through waterproofing services.
This species of mold appears black or dark green, and has a unique shiny looking surface. Some would describe it as slimy-looking, but if it dries it often becomes gray and powder-like. The problem is when it comes to black mold identification, the only real way to confirm if it’s the dangerous, toxic species is with a microscope. Many different molds have similar appearance to Stachybotrys atra. Only with careful examination by an expert, practicing caution, can the species be accurately identified.
Low levels of Stachybotrys atra tend not to have any effect, though if you’re immuno-compromised it’s more likely to cause symptoms. Larger volumes of the mold lead to higher exposure, which can cause a variety of symptoms sometimes referred to as Toxic Mold Syndrome:
- Chronic coughing or sneezing
- Throat irritation
- Asthmatic Attacks
- Chronic Fatigue
- Persistent Headaches
These symptoms usually diminish or clear completely soon after removing the mold and its source.
Black mold affects animals too. While you may not notice a small spot of mold growing in that dark corner of your basement, you can be sure your pet will! Their curious nature may lead them to direct contact with the mold, causing illness or other reactions. If you have pets, keep an eye out for symptoms and take them to the vet immediately! Then,
contact a professional to inspect and locate the source of your mold problems.
Where is the Water Located?
Bugs love a damp basement. And who can blame them? They have everything they need: a constant supply of food and moisture, ideal temperatures, and a safe place to hide from predators. Usually, basement bugs are shy – you’ll typically only catch a glimpse of them as they run for cover when you turn the lights on. Even if you don’t see them, but you notice you have a healthy crop of spiders taking up residence downstairs, chances are you still have basement bugs. Spiders find them quite tasty and are much happier to see them than you are.
In our region, there are 6 types of insects that thrive in dark, damp, basements. While they may not give you a warm, fuzzy feeling, they are harmless. If you see them, or notice an increase in spiders, start looking for damp areas in and around your basement.
Silverfish, otherwise known as fish moths, are small, wingless, silver-grey insects. They’re nocturnal, so you’ll rarely see one unless you happen to disturb it. They live on paper, fabric, coffee, sugar, human hair, and clothing. You can temporarily get rid of them without pesticides by putting out some cedar, or spray crevices with cedar oil. You can also try sticky traps, which are somewhat effective in controlling them.
Centipedes are pretty unmistakable characters in the insect world. Their name in Latin means “100 feet,” and they’ll use every one of them to skitter away from you and around your basement as fast as they can. Unlike silverfish, centipedes are carnivorous – the species that live in our area are mostly harmless, but they can bite if you pick them up with your bare fingers. Centipedes’ favorite meals include cockroaches, flies, moths, crickets, silverfish, earwigs and small spiders. You can best limit their love for your basement by keeping it clean, removing the debris that would attract their favorite prey.
If you have mold in your basement, chances are you have mold mites, too. Mold mites are tiny white insects about the size of a pin head. They feed on the mold that grows in basements, as well as flour, grains, or many other kinds of agricultural products (they’re always plentiful in mills and other food processing facilities). Mold mites can cause allergic reactions in humans resulting in itching and even respiratory problem, so it’s important to make your home as inhospitable as possible to them by getting rid of the mold and other food sources.
Earwigs are every bit as cute and cuddly as their name implies. These brown, creepy-crawly insects got their name because they were once thought to lay eggs in humans’ ears – which is, thankfully, untrue. But their fierce appearance, courtesy of a pair of pincers on their abdomens (used for holding prey and fighting rivals) does nothing to improve their reputation. Earwigs love rotting vegetation, and if you have cracks in your foundation, it’s easy for them to crawl out of the garden mulch right into your basement. They’re also attracted to moist areas, so a damp basement can be earwig oasis. Keep them at bay by removing rotting wood or vegetation around your house’s foundation and sealing up any cracks they use as an entrance.
A woodlouse, by any other name (aka armadillo bug, roly poly bug, sow bug, pill bug), still loves a damp basement. These little bugs that you may have played with as a kid are actually helpful outdoor insects because they create compost as they chew threw rotting wood and loosen the soil. But if you find them in your basement, it could indicate you have a serious basement moisture! The best way to evict them from your basement is to get rid of any sources of moisture.
Outside, their call may seem to represent a warm summer night in the country. Inside, these ventriloquists of the insect world can keep you up all night with their incessant chirping – which never seems to come from the location you think it does. Crickets are, for the most part, just annoying – but they will eat dried organic matter, including cotton and wool. Not only that, they’re not shy about leaving digested traces of their meal behind. Unlike the other basement bugs, crickets aren’t so much attracted to moisture as they are attracted to dark hiding places and easy food sources. But their presence in your basement could indicate you have cracks in your foundation, which makes it easy for them to get in. Seal up the cracks and any other easy ports of entry.
Your Best Solution
No matter how much you squish, trap, or spray, you’ll never fully get rid of these basement bugs until their buffet is removed your basement is dry and sealed. Identify and eliminate their food sources any obvious causes for basement moisture. Add a dehumidifier if necessary. Inspect your foundation and basement windows for any cracks or crevices that they may use to get in and seal as necessary.
Let Us Help with Your Basement Inspection!
Do basement bugs have you wondering if you have a basement moisture problem? Team EverDry is here to help! Contact us online or give us a call at (419) 469-5833 to schedule
a free 20-point basement inspection