Let’s face it. Many basement problems, especially humidity, manifest in the summer. That’s when you’ll see or experience all the ugly signs of moisture. Wall paint will start peeling off, mold will spot your walls, condensation will form on cold surfaces, and wooden joists start rotting. Your number one priority should be to control the moisture and resolve any underlying issues that propagate humidity.
If this is a gray area for you, don’t worry. We’ll help you understand how moisture gets into the basement and how you can stop it. But before that, let’s start with the basics.
Why is My Basement Humid?
Basement humidity is a pretty normal phenomenon, and the reason is this part of the home lies below grade or below the ground. Here, condensation can happen, and water can also get in and raise the humidity levels. In summer, moisture buildup can elevate humidity levels past the 60% mark. If you have a basement dehumidifier and proper basement waterproofing systems, excess moisture shouldn’t give you sleepless nights as your systems will kick in and stop humidity before it causes problems.
How Does Moisture Get into the Basement?
Moisture can get into your basement any of the following ways.
This is a phenomenon where moisture moves through porous materials. It occurs when adhesion to the basement walls is stronger than the bond that holds the water molecules together. The result is water gets drawn upward through tiny pores in the concrete slab and laterally through walls. When this happens, a ring of dampness forms at the base of the basement walls.
Vapor diffusion through foundation walls
Upward movement of moisture is another way that vapor can get into your basement. How much vapor gets inside depends on the permeability of the concrete and the vapor pressure. Vapor usually diffuses from the wet soil through porous foundation walls and floors into the drier areas of the basement.
Over time, the concrete walls or foundation blocks can develop cracks that may allow water to enter the basement. Soil settling and poorly connected floor joists are to blame. While internal drainage can remove the water, repairing the wall cracks eliminates the problem completely.
Moisture enters your basement through cracks in concrete and masonry structures. Two possible scenarios are when masonry joints crack or when joists aren’t anchored properly to the foundation.
Air leakage through walls and floor
Many homes in Washington, D.C., experience the stack effect, a phenomenon in which warm air rises and creates negative pressure on the basement, drawing moist air through foundation cracks or crevices. Moisture passes through the block cores and sump pit. Sealing the sump pit with an airtight cover and fixing cracks are the surest ways of resolving this issue.
Reducing Basement Humidity Levels in Summer
There are different ways of dealing with excess moisture. One is dehumidification. A dehumidifier is used to dry out the air. This solution helps bring down the moisture levels, but it’s not a lasting solution on its own. If cracks or other factors that contribute to dampness are not resolved, moisture problems will persist. Drying out the air means more moisture gets into the basement, and this can cause spalling of concrete and efflorescence, which can damage interior finishes.
Expanding on dehumidification efforts by installing an interior drainage system like BasementGutter™ and a sump pump is a better long-term solution. BasementGutter™ sits in the basement’s sub-floor to catch leaking water, and this collected water is then drained into a sump pump so it can be removed from the basement. The dehumidifier then does its job of removing any leftover moisture from the basement. Get a self-draining dehumidifier that can be drained into your BasementGutter™ or sump pump system, and there will be no buckets to have to empty.
If condensation in the summer is causing problems, don’t ventilate your basement directly with warm, humid air from the outside. We recommend you use an air conditioner or a desiccant-type heat exchanger.
Lastly, check your grading as well as gutters and downspouts systems. Occasional rains can introduce water into the basement, so it’s good to ensure your external waterproofing ticks all the right boxes.
Don’t let moisture problems in summer give you sleepless nights or deny you the chance to use your basement to its full potential. Schedule a free basement waterproofing inspection and find out how the experts at JES Foundation Repair can restore the beauty and function of your basement today!