Basements and crawlspaces are the perfect homes for moisture. They’re located below ground level, don’t get much ventilation, and often contain pipes, water heaters, and other water-using appliances. A big rainstorm, a broken vent, or a leaking pipe, and you can find yourself in … ahem … deep water.
Unfortunately, moisture in your basement or crawlspace can damage your home and your health. It can cause rot, attract pests, and facilitate the growth of mold and mildew. Therefore, it’s best to stay ahead of these problems.
Here are 7 strategies to keep your basement or crawlspace dry:
1. Fix cracks in walls and wall joints
As rain and runoff seep into the ground around your foundation, water can find its way through cracks and wall joints. Pay attention to cracks that are wider than a pencil or run horizontally along a wall, which can indicate a bigger problem. No matter the size of the cracks, it won’t hurt to patch them using a premixed cement patching product or an epoxy-based caulk.
2. Get a gutter downspout extension
If your gutters dump water right beside your foundation, it can leak into your basement. Over time, the constant dripping of water against the ground near your foundation can cause erosion. A gutter downspout directs water away from your home. Gutter pros recommend an extension longer than 3 feet.
3. Insulate your pipes
Burst pipes are a big concern, especially in regions with harsh winters like the Northeast or upper Midwest. Insulating exposed pipes and pipes under sinks near external walls is an affordable and easy way to help prevent flooding and major water damage. You should be able to get enough foam pipe wrap to do your whole home for about $25.
4. Maintain your water heater
Water heaters are connected to your home’s water supply and have tanks that typically hold between 20-80 gallons. That said, a leak can cause serious flooding. Regular water heater maintenance, including a yearly flush, is the best way to prevent issues. Flushing removes sediment that builds up and causes a damaged tank among other serious issues. It’s a job some scrappy homeowners do on their own, though there’s no shame in hiring an HVAC technician to do it. Either way, just make sure it gets done!
5. Install a dehumidifier
For basements that have consistent problems with dampness and moisture, a dehumidifier could make a big difference. It’ll help keep things dry, preventing mold, mildew, and the musty smells that come along with them.
6. Seal up your dryer ductwork
Dryers use heat and motion to do their job, and warm, damp air is the byproduct. It won’t be a problem if you have good ventilation directing the air out of your basement or crawlspace. The problem is, dryer ductwork can become loose or corroded, and tape holding sections together can fail. When you do your seasonal dryer duct cleanout, make sure all the seals are tight.
7. Test your sump pump
Your sump pump can be a true lifesaver in the event of a basement or crawlspace flood. Located below floor level, it pumps flood water outdoors before it can do serious damage to your HVAC equipment and home’s structure. They’re especially important in flood-prone areas. If you don’t have one, ask a plumber whether you should. If you do, dump a bucket of water in seasonally to make sure it’s still doing its job.
If your basement or crawlspace does flood, you may want to call a pro. Floods can pose serious risks, such as electrical shocks or exposure to sewage. An environmental professional can help get the water out and guide you as you figure out your next steps.