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Various circumstances and incidents can result in basement water problems, but not all produce the same warning signs and not all are handled in the same way. Learn how to find and discern signs of water damage, as well as understanding what you can do about this issue. Water damage can reduce the value of your home, chase away potential buyers and produce unhealthy living conditions, not to mention making your basement look and smell unpleasant.
Where to Look for Signs of Water Damage Downstairs
Certain areas of the basement are more prone to water damage, depending on the source of water. Inspect every corner of the downstairs area carefully, including finished and unfinished portions, and pay carefully attention to these locations:
What Does Water Damage Look Like in the Basement?
Water damage results from a wide range of sources, including grading issues, plumbing leaks, sewer back up, high water table and flash floods. The visible signs of damage vary depending on the water source.
You can look for the most common visible signs of water damage in the basement, such as:
Use Your Nose
Many signs of basement water damage are visual, but you can also use your nose to detect water problems. Musty smells are difficult to eliminate once a flood has occurred and a sensitive nose can spot this distinct smell in a moment. Dampness also has an odor, much like sweaty socks or mud puddles.
If your nose detects a musty, damp odor try to discover the source or location of the smell. Look for visual signs, but be aware that mold and water damage may remain hidden. You may need to hire a mold remediation specialist and have mold tests completed to officially detect the fungus, or have your contractor look behind walls and under flooring for water damage.
What Can You Do About Basement Water Damage?
The first step to repairing basement water damage is to locate the source of water. If flash floods and poor grading have caused water issues downstairs, consider re-grading the yard or adjusting the landscaping to avoid this problem in the future. When sewer back ups or plumbing leaks cause water issues, it's best to look at interior solutions that protect your home from these problems.
Basement waterproofing is another option that provides protection from a wide range of potential issues in the basement. Once you (or your contractor) have dealt with the source and eliminated all standing water, seepage and leaks, it's time to replace the building materials.
All of the existing building materials should be removed. Mold spores may be undetectable at this point, but those spores will expand and multiply with time. Replacing all of the wood, flooring, drywall and furniture that was exposed to the moisture is the best plan.
Check to be sure that the vapor barrier remains intact around your basement, maintaining insulation value and reducing condensation. Consider sealing the concrete foundation or using an oil-based paint that provides a barrier against water seepage (very good for cinder block walls).
Detection is the first stage of dealing with basement water problems. Use your senses of sight and smell to find signs of water damage, and then look for the source of water. Take the steps necessary to stop water from entering your home's interior, including re-grading, basement waterproofing and concrete sealing. Once the wet (or formerly wet) building materials have been removed, replacement can begin. Protect your new basement from the threat of water damage and enjoy a healthier, more comfortable living space.