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Dangers of a damp basement

Damp Basement

Damp basements can often be a sign of much bigger problems. Left unchecked, they can cause big, costly surprises.

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Damp Basement? You Might Have a Foundation Problem

Is your home a castle built on a swamp? A damp basement can be signs of even bigger foundation problems. This can be a serious risk for property owners and renters. Unless fixed, these symptoms and the underlying causes are only likely to get worse.

Know what to watch out for and what to do about it.

Damp Basement? You Might Have a Foundation Problem
Damp Basement? You Might Have a Foundation Problem Created By JES

Damp Foundations: Know the Dangers

Unless you’ve already finished out your basement, it may not be a part of your house you visit very often. Yet whether it is unfinished storage space, a second living room, a man cave, or space you rent out, this is one of the most critical areas of your home. Everything is riding on this.

Damp basements can often be a sign of much bigger problems. Left unchecked, they can cause big, costly surprises. Sometimes there are easy and inexpensive improvements to be made if you catch the problem early, so don’t dismiss these warnings.

One of the most obvious outcomes of damp in your home is mold. Mold can be toxic and may cause serious health problems with very little exposure. If you are renting out this property, you as the owner can be held legally responsible for your tenants’ medical bills and more.

Foundations hold up the rest of your house. If there are problems here, it is like living in a castle built in a swamp. You might think your house looks fine and solid, yet even before you notice it sagging and leaning, there can be roof leaks and other damage taking place.

A foundation issue is considered a structural element in a home. Most mortgage lenders will not refinance a home with structural repair needs. They won’t give a loan to a new buyer of the home. Act quickly, or you can be stuck and not be able to sell it.

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9 Things to Watch For

  1. Odors
  2. Rising Water Bills
  3. Rising Electricity Bills
  4. Damp Signs of Water Damage
  5. Warping Floors
  6. Uneven Exterior & Cracks
  7. Erosion Around the Exterior of Your Home
  8. Sticking Doors
  9. Failing Sump Pump


Odd smells are one of the most common signs of damp foundations. This may be coming directly from your basement or crawl space. Or it could be coming from the rot and mold already caused by water intrusion and condensation. Shifting houses can also unsettle pipes and cause leaking water lines or sewage.

Rising Water Bills

man holding money in his hands

Even before you notice the smells, you might notice your water bills are getting higher. That leaking water can be running inside your walls and end up pooling in your basement.

Rising Electricity Bills

Monthly electricity bills can go up by 15% just because your home is more humid. This humidity stems from additional moisture under your home and all the places that are soaking up water. If your utility bills appear unseasonably high, have them investigated.

Damp Signs of Water Damage

Wet Basement Carpet?

Cardboard boxes or clothes left in the corner may feel damp. Furniture, ceilings, and the inside of your cabinets can show stains and signs of water damage.

Warping Floors

Uneven wood floors and bubbling of vinyl floors are classic signs of foundation problems. This can get really expensive fast.

Uneven Exterior & Cracks

foundation settlement is a common foundation repair problem

Don’t ignore interior and exterior cracks. Those more than a quarter-inch wide are indicators of major structural problems. You might even notice your house doesn’t sit level anymore.

Erosion Around the Exterior of Your Home

Missing or failing gutters can cause erosion around the base of your home. This constant dripping or pouring and melting snow will eat away at your foundation and cause bigger problems.

Sticking Doors

Stuck Doors?

Doors that stick or are obviously warped, along with the door frames are a red flag. It might not just be the changing weather.

Failing Sump Pump

Basement Sump Pump

Struggling sump pumps are a classic sign of damp basements and underlying foundation flaws. If you notice the sump pump is noisy, seems to be running more often, or is not kicking in, have it checked out promptly.

Last March I had JES place pilings under a portion of the foundation of my home that was showing a very noticeable crack and replace a jack under the kitchen area where the previous homeowner had rigged a floor jack to hold up a sag in the floor joists. Everyone was professional as could be. They all showed up on time and stayed until the work was complete. If you remember last March it was very muddy and rainy and the guys took the time to clean everything up like they were never there. They had to make a couple of trips out to wait for things to dry out to complete the job. I would recommend these guys for any structural/foundation work that you would need.

~ Georgina B., Chesapeake, VA

Solving Your Damp Basement Problems

The earlier you catch these problems, the better. When you notice these signs, call a professional Virginia foundation repair firm. Have them inspect it and give you a free estimate. If there is serious work to do, the best companies can often also connect you to special financing to cover any costs.

There may be easy fixes they can make. Or you may want to stay ahead of any future damp and foundation failures with waterproofing and other solutions.

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