A Homeowner’s Guide To Damp Basement Walls

You may not think that you need major waterproofing for your basement if there is no standing water or periodic flooding. In fact, most basement moisture issues aren't as severe as actual flooding. Damp is actually the biggest cause of moisture concerns in most homes, and damp basement walls can lead to just as much damage over time as a periodic flood.

Concerns With Damp Walls

Damp is a concern whether you have a finished or unfinished basement. Mold growth can lead to respiratory issues for those living in the home, but that isn't the only concern. On finished walls, moisture is absorbed into the finishing materials. Over time the moisture destroys the walls, but it can also leach into flooring, ceiling joists, and the main structure of your home.

Similar issues can occur in an unfinished basement as moisture moves into the flooring joists above. Constant damp is also hard on concrete, which will eventually begin to spall and degrade. The walls may develop cracks or weak points, which only lead to more moisture issues as well as eventual foundation problems.

Common Causes

Damp walls can originate from outside or from inside the home. Outside sources are typically due to capillary action as moisture moves from damp soil or groundwater tables through the semi-porous concrete. Damp may increase during wet weather when the water table is higher. Poor exterior drainage, including a lack of gutters or french drains, can make the damp worsen.

Indoor causes are usually a combination of humidity, poor ventilation, and condensation. Basement walls tend to be cool, so warm interior air can lead to condensation. High humidity, particularly when there is poor basement ventilation, is also a common culprit for damp walls.

Prevention Options

Prevention tactics depend upon the cause. If exterior drainage is a culprit, then installing and maintaining gutters, improving grading around the foundation, and putting in french drains can reduce damp. Indoors, increasing ventilation and installing a dehumidifier may reduce dampness in the basement.

It may also be necessary to seal the basement against damp. There are several options for basement waterproofing. The least invasive consists of painting a waterproofing seal onto the interior walls and floor of your basement. There are also waterproof membranes that can be installed around the exterior of the basement foundation, but these will require digging to reveal the foundation.

Contact a basement wall waterproofing service for more help.