Is Your Basement Wet?

Damp basements are unpleasant and the moisture can be destructive. The problem may be easier to solve than you think.

By FamilyTime


With winter storms, many of us face the unpleasant reality of damp or downright wet basements. Of course, our basements may be wet in the summer, too, but there is something especially discouraging about cold, wet basements when the weather is dismal.

Where does this water come from? Look first for the obvious places and decide if you can remedy the situation yourself or if you should call an expert. What you decide depends on your abilities, your time, and the extent of the problem.

Check the Exterior

Look at gutters and downspouts. If they are clogged, overflow could be spilling down the side of the house and into basement window wells and other vulnerable places. Cleaning gutters and downspouts is a relatively easy task.

Is there a dense tangle of bushes around the house? This could be catching rainwater and snow and if the earth is not exposed to enough air and light, it will not provide adequate drainage. Thin out the shrubbery.

If leaves and other debris have collected in window wells so that water can’t drain, clean these out. Trapped water can make its way into the basement. Replace the drainage gravel in these wells or, better yet, cover them with plastic bubbles designed for this purpose.

Take a walk around the outside of the house. If the lawn slopes toward the basement, consider redirecting the land by banking it away from the house. This can be a big job that is better left for the spring. Talk to contractor about it.

Check the Interior

Walk around the basement with a critical eye and bright light. All houses settle as they age and this can result in cracks and fissures.

Check where the floor meets the walls. This is an area particularly vulnerable to cracking. They may also appear in the walls.

If holes and cracks in the masonry are relatively small, you may be able to repair them yourself. Clean them out and apply epoxy or latex cement formulas. For larger cracks, mix your own mortar for patching and then apply two coats of waterproofing compound.

Large problems are better addressed by a professional.

Dehumidifiers and Sump Pumps

If your basement wall are damp from humidity, a good dehumidifier as well as dry heat in the winter will help enormously. Some furnaces are fitted with dehumidifiers and you can buy very good ones that work on a timer.

Some problems are not easily solved and you may find you need a sump pump. These devices come on automatically when water reaches a certain level and drain it from the basement. The pump should be checked every so often to make sure it does not get clogged with dirt or other rubble.

Once you take some sensible action -- whether you fix the problem yourself or have to call in experts -- your basement should be dry and pleasant from now on. And that makes every homeowner feel better!