Tips for Keeping Your Basement Dry

If you have a damp basement, you can improve the situation without the need for a major project. If your basement has significant water coming in, you may be in need of a more comprehensive solution such as exterior or interior waterproofing or new weeping tiles. But if you simply have a damp and musty basement, follow these tips to help keep your basement dry.

Outside the Home

It’s important to keep surface water moving away from your home so that your foundation walls do not become saturated with water.

Eavestroughs

Start by making sure your eavestroughs are clean so rainwater flows easily through them and that your downspout directs water at least three to five feet away from your home. In some older homes, downspouts were designed to run directly into your home’s weeping tiles but today this system puts far too much pressure on the tiles and will likely cause issues over time. If your house has these downspouts, simply install new spouts that direct the water away from your home and cover the open pipes.

Grading

Grading

The grading, or slope, of your yard should encourage water to run away from your home. The ground at your house should be the highest point and gradually slope downward for several feet. If not, and the ground slopes toward the house in spots, this will encourage water to pool and saturate the ground next to your foundation.

You might also lay gravel or rocks around the perimeter of your home to help keep the area around your foundation dry. Gravel and rocks absorb moisture easily and dry quickly, which makes this an excellent, budget friendly option to help keep your basement dry.

Sump Pump

Sump Pump

While technically a sump pump is installed inside your home, it works to keep the outside ground water from coming in. A sump pump is needed when the groundwater level is high and causes a risk of groundwater flooding with heavy rains. If you’re using a sump pump to keep ground water out, be sure to install a back up battery, as the storms that bring heavy rains often bring power outages and if your sump pump goes out, the groundwater will come in.

Inside the Home

Inside your home, the focus is keeping dampness out of the air and decreasing condensation in your basement.

Cracks

A crack in your foundation might be a structural problem, but it’s not uncommon for concrete foundations to shift and crack over time without it being a sign of a major issue. If there is no water around the crack after heavy rain, it’s likely not leaking. But if it is, the foundation cracks can be cheaply and easily repaired.

Keep Humidity and Condensation Down

If your basement is damp, using a dehumidifier will greatly reduce the moisture in the air and is an excellent tool for keeping your basement dry.

Keep Humidity and Condensation Down

You can further reduce the humidity in your basement with these easy steps:

  • Don’t leave wet hanging clothes to dry in the basement. Do that upstairs in a well-ventilated room or outdoors.
  • Make sure downstairs bathrooms have exhaust fans to vent moisture outdoors.
  • Ensure your laundry machines are properly connected, that your dryer is properly vented outdoors and that your washer has no leaks.
  • Avoid airing out your basement early in the spring when the basement is still cool, but the day is hot. This will cause condensation in the room. You can air it out on a warm summer day but be sure to keep the windows closed when it’s particularly humid or wet out.
  • Wrap exposed plumbing that can develop condensation on the surface, but first be sure that there are no leaks causing the moisture before insulating the pipes.
  • If you have a fireplace, don’t bring firewood into your basement until it’s completely dried.

Further, you can paint your walls with water resistant paint. Moisture on basement walls sometimes causes the walls to weep. This can be prevented with a quality, water resistant paint.

Cover Unfinished Floors

If you have a concrete floor, a sealer will create a moisture barrier and help to keep your belongings from getting damaged if they’re sitting against the damp floor.

Some basements may only run the length of part of the house and are adjoined by a crawl space with exposed dirt floors. This is common in homes with additions where the basement foundation wasn’t extended for the new portion of the house. This exposed ground needs to be covered with waterproof sheeting, using polyethylene sheets, 6 millimetres thick. Each length of plastic should overlap about 6 inches and the plastic should extend up the wall a few inches. Secure the sheeting in place with cinder blocks, wood or rocks. Exposed earth in your crawl space can be a major contributor to the level of humidity in your basement and will leave a musty smell.

A damp basement can lead to mold, mildew and fungus and contribute to health concerns like allergies and asthma so it’s important to keep your basement dry.