How to Spot a Wet Basement

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What Is a Wet Basement?

Before spotting and treating your wet basement, you should first know what it exactly is. Your basement gets wet when the water from the soil underneath makes its way into the floor and walls of your basement. It is one of the most common problems faced by homeowners which warrants repair and renovations. If ignored, it can be a very expensive affair to repair the basement. A wet basement not only harms your house but also the health of those living in it. It is often a host to molds and rusts. However, there is nothing to worry about. In this article, we’ll help you spot the signs early on and give you a lowdown of necessary measures that you can take to curb the situation. Read on!

Signs of Wet Basement

Identifying the following signs of dampness will help you stop moisture dead in its track before the problem escalates:

photo of clues to wet basement
  • Water stains on the basement walls, floors or carpeting
  • An unpleasant, musty odour emanating from the basement
  • Visible mould and/or mildew in the basement
  • The lawn adjacent to your basement walls is wet
  • Rotting basement joists and columns
  • Water coming in the basement where the walls meet the floor
  • Basement humidity

Now that you are able to identify common signs of basement moisture, it’s time to pinpoint the source of the problem.

Causes of A Wet Basement

Understanding the problem thoroughly is the first step to solving it. There are many causes of water in the basement that you need to know before you venture into the process of repair. At times, the causes can be tricky to find. That is why, it is always recommended to ask a professional to diagnose the issue. Following are some common causes of wet basements:

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Rain Water or Groundwater Entering the Basement

Given the type of soil, the drainage and the seasonal conditions of your area, your basement can get damaged by the moisture coming from rain or ground water. However, it is not just underlying water that may cause the basement to dampen. It is also common for the rain water to travel down the roof and penetrate into the walls of your basement along with damaging the walls of your main floor. This usually happens through capillary suction when the pores in the concrete structure of your house draw the water upwards or laterally into the basement.

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Internal Humidification

The temperature that you maintain within your house can also cause your basements to attract moisture. For this, it is important to know what causes humidity. Excessive air conditioning might cause condensation and lead your basements to dampen. If the basement bathroom does not have proper ventilation, the shower vapors can also eventually cause a wet basement. Use of humidifiers is one of the most common reasons why many basements attract moisture.

Moulding Damp Wall

Ventilation and External Humidity

It is common for basements to get wet during the summer and rainy season. If the basement windows are kept open and the outside air is humid, it will mix with the cold basement and cause condensation causing wet basements. This moist air can also leak from the cracks in the foundation, especially through the open sump pits. The walls and flooring attract the moist air through suction causing droplets of water on the floor or non-carpeted areas of your basement floor.

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Incorrectly Designed Window Wells and Drain Tiles.

The drains right next to the basement wall are called window wells. Their task is to keep the water away from the foundation. However, when these are constructed poorly, they lead to the outside moisture to travel inside. In old constructions, it is common for the subsurface to be missing. If you are investing in an old property and the basement seems to be damp, you should check for window drain tiles or install them all together.

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Improper Landscaping

The landscaping near your basement should be constructed to drive water away from your property rather than towards it. But if the grading around the basement walls slopes towards it, water after heavy rainfall or from sprinklers can trickle through your house’s foundation and accumulate in the basement.

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Cracks in The House Foundation

Cracks and crevices in the foundation also give a way for the water to enter in the basement. If floor joists are not properly connected to the walls, the gap between them will allow the groundwater to enter your basement.

Wet Basement Solutions

  1. Since prevention is better than cure, we recommend you should invest in proper basement waterproofing just when you start building your house. If you are considering renovating your basement, you should first start with the foundation and then start with the decoration. Proper proofing will help keep the beauty of your basement intact without unnecessary moisture.
  2. You can also cure a leaking basement by adding gutter extensions. This is especially recommended when the downspouts are 5 feet away from the foundation. The gutter extensions help direct the water away from the foundation in this scenario.
  3. To temporarily stop the water from coming in, you can add plug gaps in the piping. These are hydraulic cement caulks that can help curb the situation tentatively. However, if groundwater is causing basement leaks, you need a permanent fix.
  4. You should also invest in a wet basement repair that repairs all the drainage around your basement. This may require proper installation of your drain tile which may include installation of footing drains, curtain drains and complete waterproofing of the walls.
  5. Getting rid of a damp basement also requires external basement waterproofing. Especially if the problem is with the landscaping.


How do you fix a wet basement?

The fix to your basement waterproofing problem depends on the reason causing it. If you’re unsure of what you need to do, contact a waterproofing contractor to get the right answer.

How much does wet basement repair cost?

This depends on the reason that’s causing your wet basement and what you must do to fix the problem. Cracked foundation repair, for instance, is a big project that can cost up to $100,000.

Can you seal a basement from the inside?

Sealing the basement foundation is done according to the severity of the damage in the walls or floors. There are basement concrete sealers that can do the trick, preventing water seepage and vapour transmission.

Is waterproofing a basement worth it?

Waterproofing a basement is one of the best things you can do for your basement as well as your house’s market value. Protect your basement now to prevent long-term damage. So, yes, we think waterproofing your basement is certainly worth it.