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4 Moisture Problems You Need to Know About (And How to Fix Them)

downspout by edge of house

Moisture is always present to some degree in the air and soil. Sometimes, its presence is so subtle we don’t even realize it’s there. And sometimes it announces itself in a big way with gushing water or a flood.

When the moisture we are talking about is present in our home, it typically lurks in the foundation or our basement walls. Moisture problems in these areas often start out small and are not problematic in early stages.

But over time and with our continued inattention, small moisture problems have a way of getting bigger. With recent climate change and increasingly unpredictable weather patterns, a sudden storm can be all that is needed to trigger a gush where there used to be only a trickle.

In this article, learn about four moisture problems most homeowners are unaware of, how to spot them and options for repair.

1. Humidity

Humidity is best detected by its telltale “clammy” or moist feeling on your skin. If you walk down to your basement and notice the air feels warmer and thicker down there, it’s a good sign you have a humidity problem in your basement.

Humidity can be naturally problematic in basement spaces because the space is surrounded by moisture-rich soil and the natural water table. Storms and lawn watering can increase the moisture content of the surrounding soil and thus the humidity level in your basement air.

2. Condensation

Condensation can look like your walls or windows are “sweating.” Condensation most commonly forms when there is a sharp difference between the temperature and humidity levels indoors and outdoors.

The higher the humidity content difference, the more likely you are to see condensation. Degrading weather stripping such as window and door seals and caulking can also let in humid air that triggers condensation, not unlike how your mirrors fog up after a steamy shower.

3. Mould or mildew

The scary thing about basement moisture issues is that they often begin far behind the scenes and you have no idea they are there. This is because of the nature of concrete, the most common basement building material.

Concrete is naturally porous in brick or poured form. As it settles (dries), concrete can form micro-fissures that widen over time. But while mould and mildew spores can easily access these fissures inside your concrete walls or foundation, you can't see them and thus don't know they exist.

Often, mould or mildew growth is only detected when the colony becomes sufficiently sizable to emit an odour. If you start smelling musty air, chances are good mould is growing in the recesses of your basement or crawl space where moisture is readily available.

4. Efflorescence

Efflorescence is a fancy term to describe mineral salts left behind after water has evaporated. In many cases, homeowners easily mistake efflorescence for simple household dust.

But when you look closer, you may notice these key differences. First, efflorescence forms anywhere where micro-fissures and cracks have let in water. So it can form in the middle of a wall or floor or along seams, where dust would not normally accumulate.

Second, it keeps coming back in the same places, because this is where moisture keeps entering.

And third, it is white, whereas dust is often more of a grey or brown color.

How to Fix a Leaky Basement

Now that you are aware of the subtle, even sneaky ways that moisture can creep inside your basement, you are probably wondering if there is any easy affordable basement waterproofing that can fix it.

The good news is, there are many options that are quite affordable and long-lasting!

The key to fixing your basement leak inexpensively and permanently is to catch the problem early, diagnose it properly and apply the right treatment.

Fix cracks

First, it will be necessary to identify any problematic fissures or cracks and repair and seal them. This will prevent water from recurring in those areas.

Repair drains and window wells

If you have an older home and basement, it may be time to give your drains and window wells some attention. Clear out blockages, repair cracks and restore them to full effectiveness.

Improve home drainage and grading

Establishing the optimal grading and drainage around your home itself is also vital to keeping water away from your basement walls and foundation.

By increasing the length of downspouts, adding strategic landscape and cleaning out gutters, you can route water from lawncare and storms away from your home and basement.

Install a sump pump backup support system

Your sump pump can also give you a good indication of how problematic your basement moisture problem may be. If it is always running, this means it is always working to move water out of your basement.

This can create extra wear and tear and even cause an early sump system outage. Installing a backup sump pump system greatly reduces the risk of basement flooding.

Add insulation

Insulation is one of the best protections against condensation, mould and mildew.

Insulation keeps inside air in and outside air out and, even more importantly, ensures the two never meet to create condensation.

Wall anchors and supports

Sometimes, your basement walls just need some extra support. If cracks have formed along seams, anchors and supports can close those cracks and keep them closed.

Interior basement waterproofing

There are two main types of basement waterproofing: exterior and interior. Exterior tends to be highly invasive to the surrounding soil and landscape and also cost-prohibitive – unless it’s being installed during new construction.

Interior basement waterproofing is fast, effective and affordable and can be used whether your basement is finished or unfinished.

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