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The Causes & Effects of Basement Moisture

wet basement walls and floor are evidence of basement moisture

Moisture in your basement is bad, but, not as bad as visible water, right? Maybe not. 

Moisture can be sneaky. Hiding behind boxes and lurking in the air. High moisture levels are easier to ignore, but that doesn’t make it okay. Moisture on basement walls and floor breeds mold, and high humidity causes condensation, resulting in even more problems. 

This article explores common causes of basement moisture and how it affects your home.  

6 Common Causes of Basement Moisture

The clay soil and above-average rainfall in Pennsylvania contribute to the moisture in your basement. Here are six common causes of this basement hazard.

1. Water Leaks

water leaking into basement

One of the obvious reasons for basement moisture is water leaks. Your basement is essentially a hole in the ground with loose backfilled soil surrounding it.  

This loose soil allows water to easily penetrate causing an artificial water table just outside your basement. Water pressure pushing on your wall causes cracks, allowing water and water vapor to easily enter. 

2. Grading Issues

wet soil

When your home was initially built, crews should have graded your yard to direct water away, rather than toward your foundation.  

Over time, erosion, new construction, or general use can cause the grade to shift, directing water to pool next to your foundation. 

By hiring a landscaping company, you can correct the grade, ensuring water flows away from your home.

3. Damaged Gutters and Downspouts

damaged gutters and downspouts

Your gutter system plays an important role in keeping your basement dry since its main goal is to direct water away from your foundation. Failing gutters and downspouts can cause basement moisture very quickly. 

Homeowners should clean gutters at least once a year and inspect them regularly to make sure there aren’t any clogs. Broken or sagging gutters dump water directly next to your home, causing erosion and contributing to troublesome hydrostatic pressure.

4. Faulty Sump Pump

bad sump pump

Like other appliances, a sump pump is prone to mechanical issues and has a lifespan of around 10 years. To stop basement moisture issues, be sure to inspect your sump pump regularly, flushing it with water to ensure it works properly. 

Installing a unit with multiple backup pumps, especially a dedicated pump in case of a power outage goes a long way to ensuring peace of mind.   

5. High Humidity

measuring basement humidity

Humidity in Pennsylvania is a real problem. Your basement is humid and often cooler than the main living area of your home. When the warm air mixes with the humid, cool air in the basement, condensation occurs.  

High humidity leading to condensation causes mold and mildew, often in areas that aren’t easily visible. 

6. Leaky Windows

wet basement caused by a leaky window

While basement windows allow in much-needed natural light, they are also a common cause of water leaks. Epoxy and caulk can help temporarily, but replacing leaking windows is the only way to stop basement moisture.

5 Effects of Basement Moisture

Now that you understand the common causes of basement moisture, let’s discuss how it affects your home. 

1. Mold Growth

mold growing in a basement

When homeowners think of basement moisture, they think of mold

Mold causes respiratory problems, like sneezing and coughing, and can be especially troublesome for children, the elderly, and those with asthma.

2. Wood Rot

rotting wooden supports

Mold needs three things to survive: water, oxygen, and food. Organic material, like the wood responsible for holding your home’s weight, is the perfect food source for mold.  

Mold eats away at wood, causing the wood to rot and leaving your home’s structural integrity at risk. 

3. Musty Odors

man holding nose because of a bad smell

What is that smell?  

Often musty odors are the first sign of a basement moisture issue. Not only does mold have a damp, earthy smell, but standing water and damp carpeting express a pungent odor to alert you to a problem. 

4. High Energy Bills

man holding money

Humid air causes temperatures to feel warmer, resulting in homeowners cranking up the AC.  

Increased air conditioning usage leads to high energy consumption, leaving you with a big bill. 

5. Pests

spiders crawling on a ceiling

Dark, damp areas are the ideal environment for all kinds of creepy crawlers. From ants to spiders, and even rodents, a basement with moisture issues is ideal.  

You can be sure pests won’t stay in the basement. Once they gain access, they are sure to travel throughout the living area of your home.

How to Address Moisture In Your Basement

From musty smells to rotting wood, moisture in your basement is nothing to be ignored. However, DIY remedies only put a bandage on the problem, without addressing the root cause, wasting your time and money in the process.

Waterproofing professionals like Baker’s Waterproofing use proven basement waterproofing solutions and techniques to keep your basement dry permanently, including:

crew installing interior drainage and a sump pump in a basement
  • Interior drainage
  • Sump pumps
  • Anti-freeze discharge lines
  • Wall vapor barriers
  • Dehumidifiers

Fix Basement Moisture the Right Way! Contact Baker’s Waterproofing Today!

Don’t let moisture get the best of your basement. Choose a company with a proven track record and years of experience in creating safer and healthier homes in Pennsylvania.  

Baker’s Waterproofing experts understand our state’s wet weather and troublesome clay soil and offer industry-leading, customized solutions backed by long-term, national warranties.  

Learn more and schedule your inspection today.  

Basement Moisture FAQs

Because of the clay soil in Pennsylvania, the above-average rainfall, and how basements are constructed, having damp walls is common. But it doesn’t mean it’s okay. Damp means water, and water leads to mold if left untreated. Contacting a waterproofing specialist when you notice damp walls ensures a healthy basement. 

Vacuuming water and running fans will help to remove water temporarily, but the only way to permanently dry out your basement is through waterproofing. Basement waterproofing typically involves a perimeter drain, sump pump, and dehumidifier to keep basement walls, floors, and air moisture-free. 

No, any amount of water is bad for your basement. If you notice water in your basement, even a small amount, you can be sure more water will follow. In addition to checking your gutters, a basement waterproofing system may be needed to stop water before it causes costly problems.  

Holly Richards-Purpura

Holly Richards-Purpura

Content Writer

Holly is a Content Writer for Groundworks who has written and edited web content for the foundation services industry for almost 10 years. With a background in journalism, her passion for the written word runs deep. Holly lives in Columbus, OH, with her husband. Along with educating homeowners, she also has a big heart for the Big Apple.

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