You’re probably here because you’re wondering what fate could befall the basement of your Cleveland, OH, home. After all, this space is usually open and prone to invasion by pests and insects. Moreover, the hot, humid Cleveland summers and wet winters can increase the dew points to oppressive levels.
Humid air often seeps through the foundation walls into your basement, condenses into basement moisture, and causes dampness. Dew levels of 55% or below are normal, but anything beyond this requires immediate action.
“Fix me now” basement troubles
Moisture problems in the basement develop over time. Below are issues you can fix early to avoid more serious moisture problems in your home.
- Air from outside
Hot or moist air gets into the basement through cracks, vents, and the porous basement wall material. When hot air reaches the basement, it condenses and forms moisture that can affect the quality of air in your living space. In the same manner, once moist air from outside finds its way into your basement, it will move upward into the other rooms. Such air can carry a musty smell, which is not good for your family.
You can fix this by sealing vents and cracks in the basement area. Additionally, placing a dehumidifier in the basement to monitor humidity levels and fix any high humidity problem as soon as it occurs.
- Plumbing leaks
Basement spaces are often dark and hidden. Very few homeowners monitor these spaces. A water pipe, sewage pipe or even sump pump can become faulty and start leaking. This will release water and effluent into your basement, and if unchecked, cause a lot of damage to the structures there.
- Sitting water
If your gutters are clogged, rainwater is likely to end up in the basement area. In the same manner, flood water will always find its way into the below-ground space. Waterproofing your basement space and installing a proper drainage system will ensure your basement stays dry.
- Radon gases
Another problem for homeowners is radon gas, whose concentration is high in the basement. It originates from the basement soil and usually seeps through basement cracks. Radon also moves with floods, so any flood water sitting in your basement is a potential source. Though odorless, this gas is dangerous and causes cancer. You need to encapsulate the basement to ensure that radon gas does enter your living space.
Serious Moist Basement Troubles
If you miss the above problems or fail to resolve them on time, they can develop into more serious problems such as:
- Growth of black mold
Improper basement waterproofing encourages the growth of black mold. It’s a toxic fungus that releases microscopic spores into the environment, leading to problems such as increased stress, skin rash, ear infections, runny nose, itchy skin, sneezing, asthma, irritation of the eyes, dizziness, headaches and chronic sinus infections. These symptoms affect both humans and pets.
Mold also attaches itself to dead organic matter such as wooden beams and floor joists. As it multiplies, it continues eating into these support structures eventually damaging the wood. Beams that were once strong can be weakened in four to six weeks, causing your floor to cave in.
- Electricity leaks
Moist air in the basement will also attach itself to electric cables, leading to serious deterioration of the insulation material. With time, the wires disintegrate and start leaking electricity, which can cause house fires.
- High energy bills
Excess moisture in the basement also makes the home cold, meaning you’ll run your heater for longer than usual. You will find yourself spending more energy to heat your home, and this will reflect on your energy bills.
- Pests and insects
Some pests and insects are attracted to moisture. When pests such as dust mites invade your humid basement, they will find their way to your bedding, furniture, and carpet. These mites release droppings that cause asthma and allergic reactions almost similar to those of mold spores. Termites also invade moist wood and can cause a lot of damage to the supporting beams. Other pests that may invade your home due to the presence of moisture and debris produced by rotting wood include rats, mice, spiders, and snakes.
- Respiratory diseases
Leaking sewage pipes encourage the growth of bacteria, viruses, and parasites all of which can cause serious health problems. Besides, the presence of water increases the amount of radon gas in the air. This water could be from a flood, leaking pipe or humid air from outside, all of which are known to carry high levels of radon. High levels of radon gas may cause lung cancer.
- Poor air quality
Apart from the musty smell of damp air emanating from the basement, the presence of pests and insects in your house can completely interfere with the fresh air you breathe in your home. Pest droppings and urine coupled with the smell of dead pests can cause a terrible stench in your home, making it inhabitable.
Does My Home Encourage Dampness?
Moisture gets into your basement space through the porous foundational wall, vents, cracks in the wall, groundwater or plumbing leaks. All these can make your home damp. But they’re not the only factors that contribute to your moist basement. Vents, high humidity levels, poor grading, flood-prone areas and homes built on the lower side of a slope are other factors that can make your basement damp.
Do you suspect that your basement is letting in water through cracks or vents? Schedule an inspection with your local contractor and get a free inspection and repair quote along with a recommendation to fix your moisture problems.