Anyone can tell you that if your basement is full of water, it’s time to look into basement waterproofing. But what if there’s just a little moisture on the walls? Sometimes, the signs of basement waterproofing problems aren’t big and blaring. Water is a tricky substance: it can appear and disappear almost at will, leaving behind only subtle hints that it is planning on turning your basement into a swimming pool one day soon.
No need to turn a blind eye. The cost of waterproofing a basement isn’t as much as you might think, and taking action before the problem gets worse can save you a lot of trouble (not to mention cash). Here are the top five easy-to-miss signs that your home is in need of basement waterproofing.
If your basement is relatively dry, but sometimes the walls or floor get a bit wet, it’s time to take action. Even a small amount of water, especially on the floor, is an indication that your foundation has been compromised. Water is obviously making it from the outside world into your basement, and with enough pressure (such as during a storm), this could cause a major leak or flooding.
It is also important to note that a little moisture is practically an invitation for mold to take up residence in your basement. Take a preemptive strike and invest in a French drain or sump pump installation before things get serious.
Water can contain lots of dissolved substances, and when it evaporates, it leaves these substances behind. Efflorescence is a scientific term for these leftover crystallized substances. In your basement, efflorescence appears as a powdery white substance on your basement walls or floor.
Even if you do not see water, efflorescence is a tell-tale sign that water is getting into your basement. Soil and concrete contain plenty of dissolvable, tiny particles. As water squeezes its way through tiny orifices to get into your basement, it picks up lots of substances along the way. When this mineral-filled water evaporates, the foreign substances are left behind to crystallize into powder and make your basement walls look crusty.
Much like efflorescence, stains can indicate the presence of water, even if your basement doesn’t actually look wet. Thanks to the process of evaporation, the water can leak into your basement and then disappear, leaving behind only an unsightly spot or two to let you know it was there. These stains are especially apparent if you have a finished basement.
Humidity is water in its most covert form. It may be invisible to the eye, but you can still tell it’s there: it makes the air in your basement feel heavy and damp. Humidity indicates that water is somehow getting into your basement and evaporating. It also fosters a perfect growing environment for mold – see #5 for details.
Let’s say your basement doesn’t look at all wet, but it smells somewhat musty. That musty smell might just be mold. Mold is a kind of fungus that can grow in seemingly inhospitable environments: all it needs to survive is organic material (like dust and dirt) and water. Basements tend to be enclosed environments with little air circulation and sunlight, which mold loves.
Not only can mold become an aesthetic problem as it starts to show on the walls and floor of your basement, it is a health hazard that can cause serious symptoms in some individuals. Mold is an allergen, triggering sneezing, watery eyes, asthma attacks, and other health concerns. When you weigh the cost of waterproofing a basement with the value of your and your family’s health, the choice becomes pretty easy.