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Causes, Signs, and Solutions for Damp or Moist Basements

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Basement condensation is most likely caused by water vapors which slowly rise from the ground below and make its way through the foundation right to your floor and walls.

Ohio homeowners grapple with damp or moist basements from time to time. Some wait and see if the problem will go away on its own, while others reach out to basement contractors to help them resolve the issue.

In this post, we’ll highlight the causes and signs of dampness and steps you can take to bring the situation under control.

What causes dampness in basements?

Many things can cause your basement to be damp. The major culprits include:

  • Underground condensation: The basement is much cooler than the rest of the house. Because of this, cool air isn’t able to hold much moisture as the warm air in the other rooms. When air from upper rooms mixes with air from the basement, it condenses on the basement walls, including uninsulated pipes that run through it. This creates an ambient environment for mold growth.
  • Broken pipes and wall cracks: Leaky pipes and cracks on the foundation wall also act as a conduit for moisture and water. French drains, rain gutters, and sewer overflows are other potential causes of dampness. More often than not, they cause water to come into contact with the basement walls and floor.
  • Moisture rising from the soil: If the basement is not waterproofed, moisture could slowly rise from the ground below and make its way through the foundation right to your floor and walls. This is likely to become a problem if your home is built with old and porous bricks.
  • Water from dried-out taps: Unused sinks, toilets, and tubs in the basement are the other culprits. Water from their pipes will seep out slowly over time, causing moistness in walls.
  • Basement laundry: If you do laundry in your basement and use a dryer, it will direct much of the moisture from the clothes to your walls. Over time, the moisture will condense and cause your walls to become damp.

What are the signs of moist basements?

If your house is perpetually damp, it means there’s significant moisture or water in the walls or the floor. Telltale signs of damp or moist basements in your Ohio home include:

Mold Problem
  • Mold or mildew appearance on floors and walls
  • Walls look or feel unusually cold or wet
  • Efflorescence on floors and walls
  • Damp patches on the base of the wall rising upwards
  • Floor paint and wallpaper peel off
  • Excessive condensation on your windows
  • Tiles, vinyl or carpet are wet and loose/lifting

Why should I have my moist basement fixed?

Dampness or moisture buildup in your basement can cause musty odors, which will make your home less hospitable. As well as damaging your possessions, damp basements can trigger mold growth and mildew. Both are dangerous organisms that can cause allergies and worsen existing respiratory problems such as asthma. If you’re planning to sell a home with a wet basement, you will have difficulties finding willing buyers. Many of them will back off when they realize your basement is damp. So keeping your leaking basement dry should be your number one priority.

How to fix the problem of damp basements

Moist basements shouldn’t cause you sleepless nights. You can quickly fix moisture problems by addressing the root cause. If it’s a broken pipe, have a plumber come and fix it. Make sure pipes are adequately insulated to prevent moisture from condensing and seeping through the walls.

Use ventilation fans in your baths and kitchen to control moisture. Make sure they’re venting outside. If you have a heating and ventilation system, ask a contractor to come and check it. You want to be sure it’s sized correctly and that it’s removing moisture from indoor air.

Inspect your sump pumps and perimeter systems, including the doorway drainage system. Don’t worry if they’re faulty. You can replace them. Where necessary, place filters in the ductwork. With a range of waterproof wall and floor products at your disposal, you’ll never run short of lasting solutions.

Don’t let hot summer months come in the way of you enjoying quality time in your basement. Use a dehumidifier to reduce condensation on walls. This will work once you seal air and duct leaks.

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Ohio Basement Authority Service Map

Serving Greater Columbus, Cincinnati, Dayton, and Northern Kentucky

Cincinnati Office

1270 Hillsmith Dr.
Cincinnati, OH 45215

Columbus Office

2421 McGaw Rd.
Obetz, OH 43207

Dayton Office

70 Birch Alley, Suite 240
Beavercreek, OH, 45440