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How to Prevent Basement Water Damage

As a homeowner, few things are more frustrating and stressful than discovering water damage in your basement. Not only is it unsightly and expensive to fix, but it can also lead to mold growth and other hazards for you and your family. The good news is there are steps you can take to protect your basement from water damage. 

In this blog post, we’ll discuss how water gets into basements, why you don’t want a wet basement, how basement waterproofing is done, and more.  

How Water Gets Into Basements

Leaky Windows

Windows are a great way to bring natural light into a dark basement. Unfortunately, they don’t last forever. When the components of a window break down, water can easily make its way into your basement.

Basement Wall Cracks

Cracks in the basement wall can allow water to enter the area. These cracks might be hairline cracks that aren’t structurally significant, or they could be structural cracks caused by hydrostatic pressure pushing against the foundation wall. 

Through the Cove Joint

The cove joint is where the bottom of the basement walls meet the basement floor. This joint is typically sealed with caulking or hydraulic cement, but over time these seals can break down. When this happens, water from outside can seep through the cracks and into your basement.

Sump Pump Failure

Every basement should have a sump pump to protect against water buildup. But if the system fails due to a power outage, or some other reason, water can get into your basement. A reliable battery backup system can help keep your sump pump running when you need it most.

Leaky Pipes

Sometimes, basement water damage is caused by leaky pipes. To protect against this, make sure your pipes are inspected regularly.  

Why You Don’t Want Water In Your Basement

  • Decreased Property Value – Water intrusion decreases your home’s value, and potential buyers will raise concerns about it.  
  • Mold Growth – Mold grows in damp basements. This is a big problem because some of the air in your basement flows into your home’s living area. That means you’ll be breathing in mold spores. Yuck.
  • Health Problems – Mold can trigger respiratory issues and allergic reactions like coughing, wheezing, skin irritation, and difficulty breathing.
  • Pests – A damp and humid basement can attract pests like rodents and insects.
  • Damage to Personal Belongings – Water damage can ruin family heirlooms, important documents, and other sentimental items stored in the basement.
  • Structural Damage – Water in your basement could be a sign hydrostatic pressure has built up outside your foundation walls. If so, your home is at risk of structural damage. If the pressure isn’t relieved via good drainage, the basement wall could start to bow inward and even crack.

Why You Should Waterproof Your Basement

Basement waterproofing is your first line of defense against moisture-related damage. Here are a few of its benefits:

  • Prevents mold growth – If water gets in through cracks or gaps, it can cause mold to grow. Not only does that create an unhealthy environment, but it can also damage any furniture or belongings you may have stored in the basement. 
  • Increases your home’s value – A waterproofed basement is a big selling point for potential buyers, especially if you live in an area prone to flooding or heavy rainfall. A dry basement can give you an edge in the competitive housing market.
  • It’s less expensive than repairing water damage – While the initial cost of waterproofing may seem like a lot, it’s much cheaper than dealing with extensive water damage. 
  • Increases energy efficiency – A dry basement can help improve your home’s energy efficiency, potentially lowering energy bills. This is because drier air is easier to heat and cool. 
  • Protects your home’s structural integrity – Basement waterproofing that includes a drainage system prevents hydrostatic pressure from building up in the ground around the foundation. 

Why DIY Basement Waterproofing Isn’t a Good Idea

Although there are plenty of projects around the house that you can easily DIY, addressing basement water damage is best left to a professional because they have the training and experience to identify, address, and prevent water-related problems. DIY projects also don’t come with a warranty.

Signs Your Basement Might Need Waterproofing

Wet Basement Walls

Moisture on your basement walls is a pretty good sign that—someway, somehow—water is getting in.

Efflorescence

Efflorescence is the crystallization of salt deposits on surfaces like walls or pavements. These deposits form when moisture seeps through the surface and dissolves calcium, magnesium, and potassium minerals. When the moisture evaporates, the minerals are left behind, forming crystals that create that characteristic “chalky,” white look. 

Water Stains

If you notice any water stains on the walls or floors of your basement, that’s a pretty clear indication that water is seeping in from somewhere.

Musty Smell

A musty or damp smell means water is likely lingering somewhere in the space. 

Bowed and/or Cracked Basement Wall

A bowed and/or cracked basement wall means your home has already sustained structural damage, possibly from hydrostatic pressure pushing against the foundation wall for some time. 

Seasonal Changes

If your basement gets particularly damp or humid during rainy seasons, that’s a sign that water is getting in somehow. 

How are Basements Waterproofed?

One common method is to apply a waterproofing membrane to the basement’s exterior walls. This involves excavating the soil around the foundation, cleaning the walls, and applying a waterproof coating or sheet to prevent moisture from seeping in.  

Another approach is to install a drain tile system around the perimeter of the foundation to collect excess groundwater and channel it away from the foundation.  

In addition to these methods, it’s essential to make sure that the grade around your home slopes away from the foundation to prevent water from pooling around the basement walls. 

Gutters and downspouts should also function properly and direct water away from the foundation.

It’s worth noting that different soil types and climates can impact the effectiveness of waterproofing measures. For example, in areas with high water tables, additional steps may be necessary to prevent water from entering the basement.

How to Keep Your Basement Clean and Dry

The best way to protect your basement from moisture-related issues is through waterproofing. At Baker’s Waterproofing, we proudly waterproof basements throughout Pennsylvania and West Virginia, offering tailored solutions to keep your space dry and secure. Schedule a free inspection today and receive an estimate.

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3819 N Susquehanna Trail
Shamokin Dam, PA  17876

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Harrisburg, PA 17102

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Hermitage, PA 16148

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Washington, PA 15301

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Wilkins Township, PA 15235

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800 E King St, Suite 518
York, PA 17402