If you have a basement under your house, there is the potential for all that extra storage space or even as a way to extend the home and create new rooms. But even if you don’t plan to use it for anything much, it is still important to reduce moisture in a damp basement because the problem can easily spread to other parts of the house. So what steps are needed to reduce those moisture levels and combat damp?
Step 1 – repair settlement cracks
Home settle and this leads to cracks, even in freshly poured concrete. Cracks can allow moisture to seep through, especially when it is raining or there is melting snow Settlement cracks are easy to repair without the need for a professional and all you need is a cold chisel, a mallet, patching cement and a putty knife.
Start by bevelling the crack to slightly widen it with the mallet and chisel then add the patching cement or an expanding sealant into the crack. Push it in with the putty knife and add more until you have a flat, smooth surface.
Step 2 – waterproof the walls
There are a few ways to waterproof the basement but one of the best is to dig trenches or drainage channels around the walls then cover them with waterproof material. However, if the levels of water aren’t too severe, then a waterproof paint that is applied directly to the walls might be perfect. This will stop water from getting through but also seal away odours from the walls if they have already had a damp problem.
Step 3 – reduce seepage with extended downspouts
A top source of moisture in basements is actually the roof of the house. When there is rain or melting snow, the water runs off the roof, into the guttering and down the downspout. But if this isn’t far enough away from the foundation, moisture can seep through into the basement. So aim to extend the downspout by as much as 6 feet away from the home to reduce the risk of this happening.
Step 4 – add a rain barrel
If you find a specific area of the home is where the basement is most prone to damp, then a rain barrel might be better than extending the downspout. This might also work if you simply don’t have the space to extend it as far as recommended.
A rain barrel catches the rain from the roof and can be something as simple as a plastic bin with a tight-fitting lid – although you can buy specific products too. Cut out a section of the lid big enough to accommodate the downspout, cover it to keep away insects and debris and let the water flow. You can then use it to water your garden!
Step 5 – reduce condensation
Filling in cracks and reducing groundwater seepage help with some of the most common ways that moisture gets into the basement but there is another one that needs to be handled – condensation. This comes from the house itself, usually the kitchen and bathroom where there is warm, moist air. This air hits the colder walls of the basement and releases its load, allowing moisture levels to increase and mould and mildew to grow.
Handling condensation is about ventilation and making sure that warm air is sent outside, rather than allowed to float down to the basement. That means something as simple as opening a window, having an extractor fan in the kitchen or bathroom or a cooker hood above the cooker.
Step 6 – check dryer ventilation
Another big cause of condensation is dryers so make sure yours has the right ventilation around it. Running a dryer is a big cause of damp problems in basements so make sure yours has a set up that sends that warm air outside.
Step 7 – use a dehumidifier
Finally, it can be a good idea to run a dehumidifier once all other steps are complete. This pulls the excess moisture from the air and can reduce the risk of a damp problem. You can set it up to run for a period each day then you know that if there has been a build-up of moisture, the dehumidifier will handle it.