If you have a basement in your home, the American Society of Home Inspectors has some scary statistics for you.
- Even if you buy a newly built home you aren’t safe from basement leaks. Within 10 to 15 years of being built, most new homes will spring a leak in the basement
- More than 60 percent of existing homes have basement moisture.
- Of those 60 percent, 38 percent will develop fungus and mold.
If you have moisture in your basement you’ll need to first find out where it’s coming from and then you can fix the problem.
What Causes Moisture in a Basement?
Any water on the ground outside the basement, whether it’s from rain or snow will find its way into the basement through even the tiniest cracks in the foundation. Once it’s in, it will find more cracks or seep through joints.
It could also be caused by condensation and you’ll need to determine which one of these is causing your wet basement.
Searching out the Source
Here’s an easy way to sleuth out the cause of your moisture problem. Grab a square of aluminum foil and tape it to a moist wall. If, after 24 hours, the top surface of the foil has moisture on it, the problem is most likely condensation, according to “This Old House’s” John D. Wagner.
If the other side of the foil has moisture, suspect that water is getting into the basement from outside.
If this doesn’t work you’ll need to investigate further. Look at the floor, where it meets the wall. If you see damage anywhere – such as peeling paint or an off-color, you can pretty much bet water is coming from outside at the damaged area.
Of course if you smell mold then your suspicions are confirmed: moisture is intruding into the basement.
If you find the mold you’ll find out how the water is gaining entrance.
Other things to look for include:
- Buckling floors
- Rotted wood
- Metal feet on appliances rusting
- Rusty screws or nails
Fixing Water Problems in the Basement
The fix for basement water intrusion may be as easy as airing it out or it may be more complicated, requiring a professional contractor. Whichever it is, a moist basement is a serious problem and can lead to structural damage, while mold can lead to health problems, so it must be remedied.
For more information, visit the University of Minnesota Extension’s website.