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6 Common Causes of Basement Moisture and How they Should be Fixed

basement moisture cleanup

Basement moisture is a common problem in Windsor-Essex. We have record rainfalls each year that passes. We are surrounded by Great Lakes. Basement affects the air quality of your home, the structural integrity of your foundation, and can be expensive to fix if left unattended.

Let’s take a look at some of the signs of basement moisture problems so that no surprises come your way down the road:

  • Damp spots on walls
    • Look for discolouration on your foundation walls, spots that are a darker grey or even brown in colour.
  • Peeling paint
    • When moisture makes its way behind a layer of paint, it causes the paint to lose its adhesion to the wall, causing it to peel.
  • Efflorescence
    • A salt-like white substance that you’ll find on surfaces. It is a sign of standing water that has evaporated, leaving its minerals behind on the surface.
  • Mold or mildew
    • Moisture breeds mold. Simple enough.
  • Rust on appliances or jack posts
    • Rusting only happens when oxygen comes into contact with iron or steel and water is present. If water isn’t present, then there is no rust. Science is cool!
  • Musty odour
    • Sniff, sniff. You get the idea.
  • Dry rot on wood
    • Dry rot is when wood structures begin to break down due to certain fungus species growing on it.
  • Foundation cracks
    • Many causes with many possible solutions. Most common is hydrostatic pressure applied to the outside of your foundation walls by groundwater.

If you check off at least 6 out of eight of these signs, you get an A+… and a serious wakeup call that your basement needs attention right now. Now that we know the signs, let’s look at the causes and how to fix them.

Interior Leaks

This is the one you hope for. An interior leak could be the result of busted plumbing or broken appliances. It could be a leak from your toilet, washing machine, dishwasher, or pipes that require attention. You hope for this because it should be an easy fix. There is no demo required.

How to fix?

Call a plumber or roll up your sleeves and YouTube how to fix the problem. This is the age of information, we’re sure you can find the answer online.

Poor Yard Grading

This is an easy fix in theory but laborious in practice. A properly graded yard will be sloped slightly downward away from your foundation. This causes any rain or groundwater to flow downward away from your home. This relieves hydrostatic pressure from your foundation. Hydrostatic pressure is just a fancy way of saying water pressure from standing water, like the water that collects in puddles on your patio, or the water that soil soaks up causing it to expand and place pressure on your foundation walls. An improperly graded yard causes damage over time.

How to fix?

Reset the grading around your home so that it creates a downward slope away from your home. You’ll probably need to buy dirt. Lots of dirt if you have a big yard or a moat around your home. This is something you can DIY, but who genuinely likes digging dirt? While you’re at it, take a look at your gutters and see if they’re doing their job properly. They add to the standing water problem around your home if defective.

Foundation Cracks

This is a biggie. There are many reasons foundations crack, you can actually read about it in our other blog post, “4 Causes of Foundation Cracks in Your Home“. For right now, we’ll focus on the fact that there is a foundation crack. The type of crack, which direction it runs, its size and position on the wall all give clues as to what the problem is. Again, read the other blog for more info.

How to fix?

This one will require professional help unless your crack is really small, or your confidence is really huge. You may just need to fill a few small cracks, or it could mean installing an entire Waler Wall System or Carbon Fiber Strips to support your foundation. Its best to get a professional opinion before trying to apply a solution.

Damaged or Clogged Drain Tiles

What are drain tiles? Excellent question! Drain tiles are often PVC pipes that are installed under the foundation of your home. They have perforations in them that allow them to collect groundwater and transport it to the nearest storm drain system. Useful! However, if your home is old enough, you may not even have drain tiles installed (we’re talking really old though, like before the fifties). If you have them, they are very likely as old as your home is. That’s a long time for damage or clogging to occur.

How to fix?

This is the problem you don’t want to have because it involves performing a demolition of part of your basement foundation to get to the drain tiles. They have to be installed properly, and then the foundation rebuilt. Definitely a job for a professional, and we are so sorry if you discover this is the problem.

Missing Waterproofing System

This one isn’t so bad! Many homes do not have a waterproofing system or sump pump installed. Sump pumps are a fantastic method of removing excess water from your basement, preventing moisture from creating issues I the first place. In a city like Windsor, flooding is so common that the city decided to run a program that gives residents money back for installing sump pumps. You can read more about it in our blog, ”How to Take Advantage of the City of Windsor’s Basement Flooding Protection Program”. Pretty kind of them!

How to fix?

Install a SafeDrain™ system that runs water to a Pro Series Sump Pump. These are the best, most effective solutions that we specialize in. Any moisture that tries to enter your home will be redirected back outside where it belongs. And stay out!

Condensation Build Up

Finally, we have condensation. Picture a nice cold beer on a hot summer day… have you noticed how much they sweat? Your hands are dripping with water each sip. And that’s just a small bottle. When hot air from outside moves into a colder environment, like your basement, that humid air drops in temperature, causing the water vapour to turn into liquid as it collects on surfaces. That beer bottle is just a glimpse of the amount of water that can collect in an entire basement over time.

How to fix?

Increase the air circulation in your basement. Install air vents if there are none. Address any issues with holes in your walls or places where hot air can enter through. If you have a kitchen in your basement, check the exhaust fans aren’t dirty or clogged so that they can do their job effectively. We wanted to end on a bit of a lighter note compare to numbers three, four, and five!

The best thing you can do for your basement is catch a problem early. By knowing the signs, you will be better equipped to track down the cause. Once you know the cause, you can decide on a solution. If you need help determining the best path to take in fixing your basement moisture problems, we’re just a call away. Best part is, our quotes are free, meaning we’ll assess and inform you of everything you need to know to make an informed decision free of charge. Why? Because we believe in better homes for everyone.