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Wet Basements

Water may be essential to a healthy life, but it happens to be one of the biggest threats to a home. In fact, most homeowners at one time or another have experienced damage to their home from water. A few common water problems include a leaking roof, rotted siding, fungus-covered floor framing and a wet basement. The best thing for you to do is to perform some preventative maintenance against water damage.

It’s important to know that even the smallest of leaks can turn into a big problem if it isn’t caught and fixed. For example, a pin-hole leak that begins in a piece of roof flashing can soak the attic insulation and cause the ceiling to stain and sag. Wooden framing can begin to rot if exposed to the saturated insulation. Also, the water-soaked insulation can condense which could lead to water vapor attacking other parts of the attic. Its one big bad chain reaction and water is the culprit.

The same chain reaction can happen in any area of your home. This is especially true for basements. In fact, basements are an area that is most susceptible to leaks and water damage. This is because a basement is, by design, rooted into the earth. This makes it susceptible for any water from rain or irrigation to penetrate the foundation and cause damage. Even if you don’t have a basement, a wet crawl space or concrete slab can be seriously harmed from surrounding water sources.

Tips For Preventing Water Damage In The Basement

I bet you’re wondering at this point what needs to be done in order to prevent such water damage. Well, when it comes to your basement, whether it is a crawlspace or foundation, the best defense against water damage is a properly installed and functioning watershed or drainage system. There are several essentials to a well-integrated and effective system. Below are a few tips to conquering your water problem:

  • Install rain gutters at the edge of your roof. If you already have rain gutters then make sure that they are in good condition. It is also wise to periodically clean them.
  • Check the condition of your downspouts. Repair or replace rusted, dented or damaged downspouts and be sure that they are clean.
  • The best way to clean downspouts is to use a garden hose with a spray nozzle and a small plumber's snake to clear any blockage. Use this device to flush debris out of the downspouts.
  • Consider installing gutter and/or downspout screens if you have lots of trees that overhang your roof.
  • Keep downspouts from draining at the base of your foundation.
  • Consider installing a pre-cast plastic or concrete diverter ("splashblock") below the downspout to divert water away from the foundation.
  • Downspouts work best when they are installed below ground so that they will carry all downspout-generated water to a municipal storm drain or other central-collection system.
  • Make sure that the dirt (or concrete) surrounding your home is graded AWAY from the foundation.
  • Make sure that all window wells for windows in your basement are well sealed. Consider installing gravel surrounding the wells to permit good drainage.
  • Make sure that your basement or crawl space is receiving proper ventilation. You should periodically thin down overgrown shrubs surrounding the house that can keep ventilation ports from doing their job.
  • If you notice any cracks in your concrete foundation, it should be patched or caulked immediately. Also, deteriorating mortar in brick or block foundations should be tuck pointed.
  • If all of your minor preventive actions fail to work, consider installing a drainage sump with a pump that will eject water to the exterior.
  • If your basement is still wet and none of the above solutions have worked for you, consider seeking the services of a geotechnical or "soils" engineer.

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