During the dogs days of summer you probably don’t spend much time thinking about how the chill could negatively impact your home. You’re too busy cranking up the air conditioning, stripping down to the bare minimum and looking for any possible way to cool off in these times of high heat and humidity. But if your home has a basement, that’s one area that’s guaranteed to be far colder than the rest of the house. That’s great if you’re looking for a brief respite from the elements, but it’s not that good for the long term longevity of your home. The fluctuations in temperature create the perfect environment for dampness to invade your foundation, and that can lead to mold, crumbling wood and even cracks in the concrete that keep your home stable. It’s something you are going to have to address, so here are five ways to damp-proof your basement.
First off, make sure you don’t have any plants, flowers or other greenery set in too close to the edge of your home. Although gardens make for a beautiful border, you’re going to want to leave at least one foot of open space between the edge of your foundation and any plantings. This allows enough of a path that surface water from rain or watering won’t flow down into the foundation and through to the basement. You should also make sure that any plants you do have in place are laid out on a slight downward slope, so standing water will head off towards your lawn or driveway and not back to the house.
While you’re outside, take a good long look at the entire perimeter of your home. You can check the overall slope of your property, which hopefully was designed to move water away from the house and keep dampness from building up in the basement. After some time the dirt sitting around your foundation will settle, and you might want to build up that slope again. As a good rule of thumb, the land should roughly slope two inches for every foot you walk away from the exterior walls. Give your gutters a once over as well, to insure they are flowing smoothly and directing water effectively away from the foundation. You’ll want five feet of leeway here.
Now head down into the basement and do a bit of work to reinforce your walls. You should be able to find waterproof sealant at Home Depot or a similar type of store that’s designed for this sort of application. It will easily roll onto the wall, and once it dries it will bond with the existing construction. This will prevent water from seeping through the walls and dampening the basement, but it won’t help if you’ve got water already under the basement floor.
To that end, you’ll need to make some repairs. If you notice any cracks in the floors or the walls you should get a can of epoxy or fast plugging material that’s meant to be used in construction. Choose the right material, and you’ll find it will seal the entire width of the crack, through to the exterior. There are kits sold to handle this work yourself, but if you’re unsure of the application process you might want to bring in a professional to make certain the job is done right the first time.
Finally, think about having a sump pump installed in the floor. This is significantly more difficult than a duct cleaning job, but will do wonders for the dampness in your basement. In essence, the sump pump is a water pump placed in a hole in the floor. As the water levels rise towards the basement floor, the pump kicks on and sends it out through a simple piping system. With a proper installation and the right lining this should take care of many of your dampness issues moving forward.