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Damp Basement? You Might Have a Foundation Problem

Damp basement leads to foundation problems

There’s nothing like a rainy day in Columbia, SC. Whether you enjoy the rain or hate it, though, nothing puts a damper on your day like finding standing water in your basement.

How can you tell whether it’s your basement that’s leaking or if it’s your foundation? Foundation leaks are much more difficult to spot than traditional basement leaks. If you suspect you’re dealing with one, though, you’ll need to patch it as quickly and effectively as you can.

Why is Your Foundation Leaking?

Your foundation faces a lot of pressure over the course of a year. As seasons change, the materials used to support your home will change in size. As a result, leaks may arise in places that haven’t adequately been prepared for temperature shifts or excessive rainfall.

Brick and concrete foundations tend to crack when exposed to frequent changes in temperature. Wood foundations, comparatively, will crack and let water in if your building contractor used green wood for your vertical supports.

Signs of a Foundation Leak

Don’t feel as though you have to wait until water’s rushing into your home to determine whether or not your foundation is leaking. There are several different symptoms you can look out for, including: 

  • Unpleasant smells – As water makes its way up from your foundation and into your home, it will damage your structural supports and belongings. As a result, you might start to smell rotting materials all throughout your home. If you’ve cleaned and cleaned but still can’t get the musty smell out of your home, consider checking for a leak in your basement or foundation.
  • Mold – If you notice mold clusters while cleaning your basement, you probably have a leak on your hands. Mold grows best in places that are dark and damp. Even if you don’t have to bail outstanding water, the excess humidity in your basement – generated by a leak in your foundation – may be helping it grow.
  • Pests – Have you noticed an unusual number of insects or droppings in your basement? If you have, you may have more than just an infestation on your hands. If insects and animals can get into your home, then so can water. Be sure to start checking for leaks before the weather turns, or else you’ll be taking on more extensive repairs later in the year.
  • Cooler basement temperatures and excess humidity – The more dampness there is in the air, the cooler your basement is going to get. If water is making its way up into your home through your foundation, you may notice your basement growing both colder and more humid than it used to be. Keep a barometer and a thermometer in your basement to better assess the climate. You’ll also want to keep an eye on your electric bill – if you notice it spike, your A/C or heat may be trying to counteract the dampness in your home. 

Waterproofing Your Foundation

The best way to prevent your foundation from leaking is to waterproof it when you first get your home. This process is simpler when you build your home from the ground up. If you want to waterproof an existing home in Columbia, SC, you’ll need to speak to a local contractor about the options you have available to you.

Some of the different waterproofing solutions a contractor may recommend will include:

  • Interior French drains – Interior French drainage systems placed in your basement’s subfloor help collect seeping water and redirect it to a sump pump system.
  • Sump pumps – Sump pumps will take the water that’s been collected from your home and pump it outside through discharge pipes. These pipes can be tied into downspout conductor lines and led far away from the house to keep water away from your foundation. You’ll need to have a professional come and check on the state of your sump pump on a five-year cycle if you want it to continue functioning as it should.
  • Temporary sealants – Temporary sealants work in a pinch and will keep your foundation water-free for up to a year. You can apply these sealants yourself or seek out the assistance of a professional. Note, however, that these are not permanent solutions and will not completely address your leaking water problem.
  • Vapor barriers – Vapor barriers work best in crawl spaces but can also be used to waterproof your foundation. These plastic-like barriers actively repel water from your home, be it in a gaseous or liquid form. You’ll need to replace your vapor barrier on a two to five-year basis if you want it to continue keeping water out of your home.
  • Dehumidifiers – Dehumidifiers are great solutions for excess basement dampness. While they won’t make much of a dent in a basement that sees frequent flooding, they will pull water out of the air and keep it from settling in the joints of your foundation. They also are perfect for cleaning and filtering the air, controlling moisture and humidity, and reducing odors and the potential for mold growth.

Think your Columbia, SC, home might benefit from foundation waterproofing? Reach out to a local contractor ASAP for a free inspection and estimate to see which waterproofing solution will suit your home best. 

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