Few problems with your house are as troublesome or as expensive as a wet basement, and because they’re underground, these problems are pretty common. If your basement smells musty, looks moldy, or gathers rainwater in certain spots, you may have a wet basement problem that shouldn’t be ignored.
Water damage in your basement will hurt trim and finishes, erode framing and foundations, promote the growth of mold and mildew, and can cost thousands to fix, but here’s what you should know.
Groundwater lives in pockets beneath the earth’s surface, and can easily seep through unsealed concrete slabs in your foundation. Puddles form, and your basement becomes consistently wet.
Rain, snow, sleet and melted hail can flow into your basement under doors or through poorly sealed windows and cause the same problems.
The last main cause of wet basements is hydrostatic pressure. This occurs when water-soaked soil pushes moisture through walls and floors.
Once you’ve determined the root cause of the problem, you can fix it. Sometimes this is a simple fix, like extending downspouts or grading your property so that water runs away from your house. Other times it’s not so simple, and you might have to install new drainage systems or excavate around your house.
For example, you may need to do this is if your wet basement is caused by hydrostatic pressure. You’ll need a waterproofing membrane on your draining system to reduce the water pressure around your home and stop water from seeping through. A professional could install a new drainage system and waterproofing membrane for $5,000 or more. If that’s more than you can afford or more than you want to spend, there is a DIY solution you could try before hiring a professional.
Start on the outside of your house and cover all foundation cracks, framing joints and floors with a brush-on waterproofing sealant. This still isn’t cheap, but doing this yourself will cost about $1,700 instead of $5,000 (for an average sized basement).
Another possible solution would be to install sump pumps. These remove water from a sump pit in the ground, and is the best defense against seeping groundwater or minor floods. When the sump pit fills with water, the pump automatically engages and shoots the water into drains or other areas to flow away from your house. Professional installation could cost anywhere from $2,000-$6,000.
The worst thing you can do for your basement is to ignore it—water damage will only get worse and worse, until you have serious problems that will require way more money to fix. If you think you may have a wet basement problem, pay attention to how the water’s getting in and go from there! And of course, for professional help call Southern Home Structural Specialist.