Most basements are susceptible to water problems.  Eventually, the water soaked soil surrounding your basement eventually starts to find its way through cracks and seams in your aging concrete foundation.  Other times, a slow leaking pipe in the wall starts to cause mold and water damage to your basement.

Water finds its way into a basement through ceilings, walls and floors (and cracks and openings in them) in a variety of ways. When it does, your precious investment begins to deteriorate as your once dry basement starts to develop a damp, musty smell. This article lists the most common signs of damp, so you can take precautions

Where to Look

Water readily collects at the bottom of basement walls, and makes its way through basement floors as the result of rising hydrostatic pressure. Often it’s hidden behind the skirting, carpets and laminate floors we install to conceal the concrete foundation. The only way to spot it is to look for adjacent efflorescence, mold or damp. After that, you have to remove the covering and get to the root of the problem.

Window wells can be a recipe for disaster because they fill up like little dams if the drains are blocked. After that, the water leaks past cracked panes and seals in basement windows, before running down the wall and pooling on the floor. Once the drainage is sorted out, the only solution may be complete replacement of the window module.

Another common problem is damp appearing on a basement ceiling accompanied by mold. At least this time you know where it’s coming from, and where to look depending on what’s above. The cause could be a leaking pipe in the structure overhead, or a poorly sealed basement roof, depending on the design. If you can get into the floor space overhead, stick your head down and look carefully with a flashlight.

Basement bathrooms are another source of leaking pipes. This time it’s worse because the water has nowhere else to go. Look for mold where it shouldn’t be, and efflorescence on the walls. Then do something soon, before the tiles start falling off.

Don’t forget to inspect closets and other concealed spaces carefully. Look in corners, around door frames and under ledges too. If there are signs of water leakage anywhere, you have to track it down and fix it.  Remember that just because you see water in one area, this may not be the source of the leak.  Water will follow a path of least resistance and can travel quite a ways before finding a spot to settle.

Why This is So Important

Builders go to a great deal of trouble to waterproof houses, especially when it comes to roofs, and openings through outside walls. While you may think this is a cosmetic exercise aimed at increasing comfort, there’s a far more deep-seated reason why they do it .

Many of the materials in our homes are derived from timber and other plant based products. Think wood trusses, paneled walls and gleaming timber floors. When you add the curtains, upholstery and clothes with which we fill our homes, it’s obvious that a large part of our investment is at risk from flooding. And that’s because water causes natural materials to rot.

Basements are full of similar materials. However this time we don’t have easy access to the outside, proper ventilation  or the luxury of gutters, downpipes and run-off water courses. Once the basement damp has been left unattended for a few months, the damage to some materials can be irreversible.

If your basement starts to show signs of water or mold problems, the best course of action is to be proactive and fix the problem before it becomes a big problem.  If you’re unsure where the water leak is coming from or if it’s in an inaccessible area, you can always call in a professional contractor to provide some expert advice.