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man with closed nose due to smell

Flooding. Paint flaking. Powdery white stuff on the walls or floor. Humidity. Smells. Mould.

The list of strange things that can occur inside the average basement goes on and on. But what does it all mean? Is it normal for your basement to smell a little If you see paint flakes, is it just a sign of age or something else, something worse?

These are normal and natural questions that most homeowners with basements will ask themselves at some point during the course of home ownership. Unfortunately, not every homeowner will stop to do the research to find the correct answers to these questions.

When warning signs like standing water, paint flaking, efflorescence (white powdery residue), odours, humidity and similar signals are consistently ignored, what is likely a minor problem begins to get bigger. In time, the homeowner discovers they now have a major moisture problem on their hands, and that is when we get that first panicked call.

We don’t want this to happen with your basement space! The truth is, the vast majority of repairs and basement waterproofing jobs are actually quite affordable, provided you take action when you first spot an issue and seek to remedy it within a reasonable time frame.

7 Basement Warning Signs You Don’t Want to Downplay

Let’s take a look at seven of the most common warning signs that can arise to let you know your basement may need maintenance or repairs.

Remember, catching these warning signs in their early stages means you are likely facing a minor repair rather than a major budget-breaker!

Odd odours

If you are used to living in a home that has an older basement space, you may be rather acclimated to the chronic musty, stale or simply strange odour that arises when you enter your basement.

Most people who have grown up with a basement in their home don’t think much of these types of smells.

Unfortunately, just because your basement (and every basement you’ve ever lived with) has always smelled that way doesn’t mean it is normal or healthy.

More than likely, those strange odours indicate your basement air is stale and oxygen-poor, possibly overly humid and perhaps contaminated with mildew or mould spores that you can’t see but you certainly can smell.

Sump pump malfunction

A sump pump, like any major appliance, has a useful life. Timely maintenance and minor repairs can absolutely extend the useful life of your sump pump but can’t always make up for conditions that tax your sump system beyond what it was designed to handle.

If your sump system seems like it never shuts off, this could be because your basement is taking on extra water on a regular basis. Not only is this going to add wear and tear to your sump pump, but in time, a sump failure could lead to a major basement flood.

Persistent humidity

Persistent humidity is another one of those so-called “normal” situations that many people expect to find inside their basement. But it actually isn’t normal—or at least it shouldn’t be!

Along with humidity, you often find mildew, mould, insects and even small animals who are lured by the presence of consistent moisture. Each of these can conspire to make a mildly unpleasant situation a whole lot worse and much more expensive to fix.


Efflorescence is the technical term for that white powdery residue left behind after water evaporates. Efflorescence is composed of mineral salts that get carried along in the water as it enters your basement. When the moisture dries up, the white powder gets left behind as a calling card.

For many people unfamiliar with efflorescence, it is easy to assume it is just dust.

But if your “dust” keeps appearing in very odd places, such as midway up the wall or in the middle of the floor, chances are good it is not actually dust at all but a sign you have water seeping into your basement.

Standing water

Standing water is easier to interpret than efflorescence. When you see a puddle or slick spot in your basement, you know what you are looking at.

Standing water indicates your basement has taken on water that isn’t getting routed back out again. This is a source of concern that requires immediate investigation.

Paint flaking

Flaking paint is sometimes due to simple old age, especially if the original paint wasn’t of the best quality or the basement area where the paint is has experienced a lot of wear and tear.

But paint flaking can also indicate unseen moisture, such as when mould or mildew, consistent humidity or seeping moisture causes the paint to flake off.

Mould and mildew

Mould and mildew are pretty much every homeowner’s nightmare. But what you need to remember is that mould and mildew are everywhere—in the air, soil and water—and not all of it is bad.

The important thing here is not to wait when you suspect a mould or mildew invasion because it can be dangerous to your health.

Have your basement evaluated promptly and find out what kind of mould you have and what you are dealing with. Then you can take the next steps before the issue gets worse.

Free Inspections & Affordable Basement Solutions You Can Trust

You can’t go wrong with a free inspection and quote, which is exactly what you get when you call us.

From there, we will work with you to identify the most affordable and appropriate repair for your basement.

Our simple, quick solutions include interior waterproofing, crack repair, installation of backup sump protection, repair or installation of window wells and drains, adding insulation or downspout extensions, and doing drainage repairs or additions as needed. Most repairs only take one to two days!

Get in Touch

Contact us online or give us a call at 1-866-875-6664.

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