Dampness issues in existing basements are highly common, but every so often are not understood or appropriately treated. If the basement is hardly ever used and isolated from the living spaces upstairs, this might not be a great problem. Nevertheless, most basements are linked to the other part of the house through ductwork or other openings. Further, basements are all the time more used as living and bedroom spaces. In these circumstances, moisture problems are not only frustrating and painful, but also can lead to major health problems. Molds and mildew growing in clammy carpets and beneath wall coverings are a menace. Decorating a basement short of first dealing with the wetness problems can cause poor health conditions and lead to substantial damage as well.
Understanding the issue
To rectify/ repair the basement dampness problems, it is essential to identify the location from which the water is coming from and also what mechanisms allow it to enter the basement. There are simply three sources of basement moisture:
1. Rain water or groundwater.
2. Internal moisture sources such as humidifiers, bathrooms and cooking as well as the moisture trapped in the concrete post construction.
3. External humid air that cross the threshold of the basement/ lower ground floor and condenses on cooler exteriors.
Moisture is transferred from the outside of the building to the basement interior by four mechanisms:
1. liquid water flow
2. capillary suction
3. vapor diffusion and
4. air movement.
Occasionally snags are traced to pathetic construction with cracking or settling foundations. In numerous cases, although houses and basements can be mechanically sound, but are not properly constructed to handle water drainage. A lack of a proper gutter and downspout system is very common. Failure to incline the ground surface away from the house foundation also can lead to moisture issues. Missing /non-functioning sub-surface drainage systems are similarly found relatively frequently. These glitches can all be addressed and fixed if a logical approach is used.
This publication briefly describes moisture sources, moisture movement mechanisms, and typical basement moisture problems. Then, a step-by-step process for addressing each problem is presented along with several detailed approaches to solving the problem.
- Water seeping out of walls
- Standing water on the floors
- Waterlogged base of concrete block walls- a ring of dampness
- Moist, humid air
- Condensation on the cold walls and floors in summer
- Stink, molds and mildew
- Deterioration of rugs/ carpets and wooden furniture
- Rot and decay of wood headers, joists, sill plates, and columns
- Discoloration and blistering of the wall layers