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Is it Possible to Fully Finish a Damp Basement?

It is best to eliminate sources of dampness and water in your basement before you finish it – this will create a welcoming and healthy environment for your family.

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Basements and cellars used to be spaces used purely for storage, usually food storage, thanks to the cool and humid environment. These days, however, it is more common for basements to be used for the storage of belongings and furnishings or as living space. As such, it is common for waterproofing to be necessary when finishing or converting basement space. For those who want to make the most of the square footage that their basement offers, dampness can pose a real roadblock. Or at least it should; finishing your basement without dealing with underlying dampness and damage can be a costly mistake. 

wet basement wall

Recognizing Dampness 

Whether you intend to get a professional to do all of your finishing work, or you want to do as much as you can by yourself, it is important that you learn to recognize the signs of dampness and damage in your home. After all, dampness, structural instability, and pest infestations often go hand in hand, even if they have separate causes. The most common signs of dampness are: 

  • Increased humidity 
  • Peeling wallpaper 
  • Musty odors 
  • Mold formation 
  • Condensation (on windows or cool surfaces usual) 

These symptoms of dampness can cause additional damage to your home, and even your health if you have certain species of mold. Sometimes dampness is caused by water seeping through poured concrete walls or up through uncovered basement floors (though these are no longer common). In these cases, waterproofing measures like installing foam insulation and vapor barriers will do the trick. 

In other cases, however, dampness can be caused by internal or external damage to your home. Issues like cracked or bowing walls, foundation damage, frost heave, leaking window wells, and internal leaks can all cause standing water and dampness in your home. In these cases, repairing the damage should be your first priority. 

Why You Should Deal with Dampness First 

Though it may be tempting to ignore mild dampness and simply get on with the business of converting your basement, we urge you to deal with the underlying issues first. Why? Because it could save you a lot of money, time, and trouble in the long run. You see, while your issues with dampness may be benign, they could be a symptom of deeper issues that will not stabilize or rectify themselves over time. If your dampness is being caused by leaning walls or a cracking foundation, it could well end in a collapsed wall if you ignore it indefinitely. 

How to Successfully Tackle These Issues 

Of course, it’s hard for a non-professional to identify the exact underlying causes of dampness, especially if there is more than one. As such, it is best to have a professional assess your basement before you begin the finishing process. This will highlight any serious issues, and a pro may even have some suggestions for products and solutions you should consider when you start conversion. 

And, of course, if you decide to hire professional help to deal with the more complex parts of basement finishing (egress window installation, for example), you can expect them to address any dampness or damage in the process. While this may be slightly more costly than doing the work alone, the peace of mind it offers while protecting your home is unparalleled. 

For help with taming leaking walls, dampness, and lingering humidity, get in touch with the professionals at Ohio Basement Authority to request a free inspection and repair quote. We’ll be able to assess the condition of your basement and recommend the best fixes unique to your home’s repair needs.  

Then, one of our experienced crews can install these solutions so your basement will be safe and dry, allowing you to finish the space and transform it into a more functional area!

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