Pooling water around your walls is the last thing you want to see when you go into your basement. Unfortunately, houses new and old that are ill-equipped to handle large amounts of precipitation may leak. If you notice your basement is damp or even drenched after bad weather, you need to act to find the source ASAP.
Why? Because a wet basement is more than just a momentary hassle. Wet basements can provide havens for mold and damage anything you’ve placed into storage.
But how do you know when a wet basement is only a temporary issue and when it calls for drastic measures? Let’s dive into the signs of a leaking basement and the process you’ll need to undertake to fix it.
Signs of a Wet Basement
Determining whether or not your basement has endured a post-precipitation soaking usually isn’t difficult. There’s more to a damp basement, though, than puddles of water. Your basement may be leaking without producing standing pools. To tell, you need to look for the signs. These include:
- Cooler temperatures as a result of increased moisture in the air
- Increased humidity
- Curling papers or damaged materials
- Fogged windows
- Warping door frames
While some of these signs are part and parcel with the Virginia winter, they should not consistently make a home in your basement. If they do, you may need to call in a professional to see what’s going on.
Why the Immediate Fix?
If you do think your basement is leaking, you’re going to want to address the problem as soon as possible. Standing water or consistent dampness inside your basement is a safety hazard for a number of reasons. Pools of water will compromise the electrical workings within your home. They’ll also threaten the stability of your home’s foundation, making it more difficult to live in and almost impossible to sell in the long run.
Beyond that, standing water and/or consistent dampness will generate black mold within your basement. Exposure to this kind of mold will compromise your health. It is especially dangerous if you have children.
As such, don’t feel like you just have to get used to finding pools of water in your basement. There are professionals who will be happy to guide you through the leak-defeating process.
Fixing a Wet Basement: the Process
What does that process look like, though? In general, you can expect the waterproofing of your basement to follow these steps:
Find the Leak
Either you or a professional contractor will need to identify how water is making its way into your basement. You may have had a pipe burst, your foundation may be cracked, or your window frames may have warped to the point where they’re no longer securing your home. Whatever the case, finding the source of the leak will help you plug it.
Pump Out the Water
If there is actively water or dampness in your basement, you’ll need to pump it out before you work to fix the leak. Running a dehumidifier will help remove the moisture in the air, while a shop vac can help you remove standing water.
Stunt Mold Growth
If the standing water you’ve just removed damaged any paper, wood, leather or fabric, you’ll need to throw those materials away – or at least have them treated. These materials will attract basement mold and compromise the health of your family if they remain. If you have materials of these sorts that you absolutely need to save, let them dry out for a day or two. If you notice growths, you’ll need to dispose of them as soon as possible. Note that you may also have to dispose of larger products – door frames, wooden window frames and so on – to prevent mold from growing in the pores. If this is the case, talk with your affiliated contractor to see if they can replace the materials you’ve had to dispose of.
Check for Outdoor Leak Sources
You’ll want to ensure your home’s exterior features, like gutters and downspouts, aren’t making your leaks worse. Take a look outdoors and see if cleaning out the gutters or redirecting the flow of water away from your home’s perimeter will help reduce the size of your leaks.
Take Preventive Steps
Finally, work with your contractor to determine what kind of waterproofing solutions will serve your basement best. Temporary solutions include dehumidifiers, French drains, drainage mats and interior sealants. If you want to work with a more permanent solution, you can talk to your contractor about external waterproofing.
Virginia weather does more than make it difficult for you to get from place to place. The precipitation in the area could introduce mold and other damage to your basement. If you’re dealing with standing water, don’t resign yourself to an indoor swimming pool. Talk to a contractor and reclaim your home.