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Wet Basement Problems

JAN 24, 2018

Wet basements are a common issue especially in older homes. That damp feeling and musty smell are a sure indication of water infiltration and mold growth. Now, when I say water infiltration that doesn’t have to mean a giant crack in the foundation or a huge visible leak, although these things do qualify. The more common culprit are small cracks in the foundation or gaps between the foundation and window frames that let small amounts of water seep in slowly over time. 30 years ago waterproofing a foundation wasn’t a common practice nor was it building code. Houses naturally settle over times and in turn this settling creates cracks in the foundation or gaps between the foundation and the members connected to it.This is an all to common problem that we on the homes we inspect.

Fortunately there are signs to look for and tools to use to help home inspectors detect these issues. Some common signs home inspectors look for include efflorescence, staining of foundation walls, rusting of components attached to the foundation wall or floor, mold, wood rot, spalling paint and damp walls. A home inspector will also have tools like a moisture meter and thermal imager to help identify these issues. Unfortunately in some situations it is nearly impossible for a home inspector to tell if there is mold or moisture issue in the basement. For example if the basement has been newly renovated and the weather has been dry for a few days there might not be any detectable signs of a damp basement or water infiltration.

When it comes to fixes there are simple things like making sure you grades and eavestrough direct water water away from the house. If there is a larger crack injection is a good option, and on the high end of the cost spectrum you can have a professional dig out around the foundation and add exterior waterproofing. All in all the right solution to the problem should be discussed with a professional, some solutions are cheap and easy, some you can do yourself, and some are expensive and involve a lot of work. It’s important not to ignore the problem if your basement feels damp or smells musty talk to a home inspector.

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