DIY: How to Fix a Wet Leaky Basement

Is your home being held hostage by a damp, mold-filled and musty basement? If so, this is the article for you. This article provides simple, inexpensive steps that can be used by the homeowner to reduce and possibly eliminate water problems in the basement. Wouldn’t it be nice to transform that damp and dank basement into a pleasant and usable living space? Well, then, let’s get to work.

The first step to getting a drier basement is to determine what is causing the problems. You need to determine how the water is getting into the basement. There are two places that water can come into a basement. They two places are either from inside the basement or from outside the basement. To determine the source of the moisture securely tape a large piece of plastic wrap, aluminum foil or other similar non-porous material to each wall and on the floor in a few spots. Cover all edges of the material with tape so that no air can get under the plastic, foil, etc. A few days later remove the pieces and note which is damp. Moisture on the wall or floor side means that water is seeping inside the basement from the outside. Moisture on the outside means that water is coming from an inside source. For running this test I prefer to use plastic wrap, as you can see the moisture forming whether it’s on the inside or outside.

For moisture that is leaking in from the outside the basement, follow these steps. Inspect your downspouts to ensure that the rainwater from your roof is running down a slope away from your home or running into a drain. Hardware or home improvement stores sell pre-made troughs and other items to assist with this if needed. Use hydraulic cement to fill any cracks or holes in the walls or floors. Use a waterproofing paint to seal the basement walls and floor. Waterproofing paint alone will often solve the problem, but it is best to complete all three steps.

For moisture that is coming from inside the basement, follow these steps. Inspect water lines, fittings and appliances to assure that there are in proper working condition (e.g. not leaking). Wrap water lines with insulation. Water line is very inexpensive. While only cold water lines will “sweat” due to condensation, wrap hot water lines as well. Wrapping the hot water lines will save energy, as heat is not lost as quickly from the line. Use an exhaust fan or regular fan to circulate air from the outside to lower humidity or simply use a dehumidifier (or both). Ensure that any windows that open allow air in and out easily by moving items outside or removing or cutting back plants and shrubs.

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