Water vapor that seeps into the walls around a basement foundation can cause moisture to collect inside basements. The same problem can occur in very moist climates with high levels of humidity. This poses both health risks and risks that the moisture will eventually damage your downstairs belongings. Understanding more about the causes of basement moisture and the common collection methods will help you keep your basement dry and protected.
Causes of Basement Moisture
Most moisture problems inside basements are caused by water that is allowed to seep into the ground near the foundation of the house. This is normally caused by inadequate drainage from gutters. Sources of water that can lead to high moisture levels include rainwater that falls naturally on the area adjacent to your foundation or from downspouts that collect rainwater but are clogged or do not lead water a sufficient distance from your foundation walls. (See Reference 3) Excessive watering of flower beds that are near your foundation walls also can cause high moisture levels in your basement. (See Reference 1) Water runoff from adjacent properties that drains into your yard can also lead to elevated moisture levels in your basement.
Problems With Basement Moisture
High moisture levels inside basements can lead to several potentially hazardous and destructive conditions, (See Reference 2) including mildew and fungus growth on walls and carpet that causes a foul odor and damage. Prolonged exposure to moisture may also lead to separation in floor joists and wall beams and likely will cause wood to warp over time. Floors may buckle and lose structural integrity due to excessive moisture levels.
Collecting Basement Moisture
One solution to high moisture levels inside basements is to collect the water from the air. This can be accomplished using desiccant packs or dehumidifiers. Desiccant packs contain silica gel, which draws in moisture from the surrounding air. They are available in disposable or reusable units. (See Reference 4) Desiccants are a good option for smaller spaces, such as inside a closet. For larger rooms, dehumidifiers are a better option as they remove more moisture from the air. Dehumidifiers can be installed as stand-alone units or integrated into the HVAC system inside your home.
Eliminating Basement Moisture
The best way to remove unwanted basement moisture is to prevent high levels of moisture from collecting in the first place. Make sure to clean your gutters regularly to prevent blockages that might lead to water spilling into the ground near your foundation. Create elevated grading on the side of your house through landscaping to drain rainwater away from the building. Opening a window in the basement during dry weather also creates ventilation that will circulate the air and prevent large amounts of moisture vapor from building up. Installing fans in the basement that vent directly to the outdoors also helps keep moisture levels down. (See Reference 3)
Heath Robert has been a professional writer since 2001. Covering news, politics and local communities, he has worked for daily newspapers across Colorado, including the "Columbine Courier" and the "Colorado Statesman." Robert holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in journalism and political science.
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