There are many things you can do to keep your basement dry and humidity free. If you have a wet and leaky basement, there are drainage systems that can be installed by a professional contractor to keep water away from the foundation and walls of your home. Sump pumps are necessary when the water has already reached the floor, and you need to get it out quickly to avoid further damage to the house and the furniture you may have there. A good quality dehumidifier can be the difference between a moist basement and a dry one. The quality of the air in your home will be noticeable cleaner.
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Seeing a little moisture in your basement might not set off alarm bells, but it should. Unwanted moisture in a basement or crawl space is an immediate problem and the sooner it is addressed, the better – especially in Vancouver’s wet season.
If you have had a wet basement, you know it’s no laughing matter. Even if the water doesn’t cause structural damage, it can ruin carpeting and furniture and also result in the growth of mould and bacteria that are harmful to the health of humans and pets. Prolonged elevated humidity levels in a basement can cause swelling of the floor joists above, leading to buckled main floors. Even the musty smell of a wet basement can depress the resale value of your home considerably.
Keeping Moisture Out from the Outside
Keeping moisture out from the outside of the house is a simple concept, but I have spent my fair share of time standing outside in the rain watching water make its way down to the foundation because a few things—such as gutters—were out of place, or because the grading was done improperly or not at all.
Some of this we have no control over; after all, this isn’t new construction we are talking about. But we can and should make recommendations to address water intrusion into underfloor spaces. Look for clear signs that indicate the risk of water entering the basement. Examples include downspouts terminating too close to the house and roof runoff cutting into the ground. In both cases, water is unintentionally directed toward the foundation, greatly increasing the risk of water intrusion into the basement.
The solution could be landscaping that moves water away from the walls and/or light carpentry, such as fixing a broken gutter on a roof. Fix, or recommend that someone else fix, the easy stuff first. At the same time, I would not recommend dealing with moisture problems from the outside when to do so would entail heavy excavation. That is very disruptive, and it can be costly. There may be situations where heavy excavation is necessary, but I feel that most moisture problems can be addressed in less invasive ways.