September 25, 2009

How to determine whether damp is a problem in your home.

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Mould

Mould

A good, dry basement can be a great feature to have in your home.  Its uses are numerous… a home office, recreation room, or just for storage. If, on the other hand, you have a problem basement that is damp and mouldy, you have what amounts to a liability. Damp basements are not only unhealthy petri dishes of bacterial growth, they can also diminish the value of your home.

In fact, the mould and mildew that’s found in damp basements can be a leading factor in poor indoor air quality, increasing the chances of allergies, respiratory problems and other health-related issues.

There are a couple of reasons that you may experience dampness in your basement, beginning with the most obvious… the foundation of your home.

While damp basements are often associated with older homes, if enough rain falls and saturates the ground, even owners of new homes may find their basements flooded. Old basement waterproofing weakens over time and will need to be replaced using more modern methods, and homes shift and settle after awhile resulting in fissures and small cracks in the foundation.

In addition, the drainage system around your home may no longer pull the water away from the foundation like it should, resulting in seepage.

Another source of incoming water may be through a stairwell door, or around window seals.

These problems are a relatively easy fix and it begins with the next heavy downpour.  As it’s raining, walk around your home to see if the water is draining away from your home as it should, or if it’s puddling around the foundation. If drainage appears to be the problem – or one of the problems – it then becomes a matter of adjusting your landscaping.

Build the ground up around your home so as to create a slope.  Clean out your rain gutters and adjust the drainpipes so that the rain is directed away from your home. Then, take a look at the concrete work around your home i.e. sidewalks and driveways. Sometimes time and erosion can cause them to become uneven and lean, pulling the water towards your foundation.

Inside the home, you’ll want to do a close visual inspection of your basement walls and windows, marking the areas that leak, so that you can come back and caulk them after the rain stops. If you realize that windows and stairways are a source of leaks, many homeowners have success stopping the leaks by putting a roof or cover over them.

In areas with a high water table, where the ground is unusually damp even when it hasn’t rained, you may need to resort to a sump pump and drain system. Basically, pipes with holes are placed beneath the basement floor. The water from the soil seeps into the pipes, which deposits the water in a concrete well. A sump pump sucks the water out of the well and drains it away from your home.

Another condition that can cause a damp basement is condensation.  You can tell if condensation is your problem by the level of moisture that you find on the surfaces of items in your basement – sort of like how the morning dew lays on your outdoor furniture.

Condensation in a basement is essentially caused by poor air circulation and high humidity. Therefore, it can usually be fixed by using a dehumidifier, venting your dryer outside, and opening windows on high humidity days to allow the air to circulate.

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