Your basement is the foundation to your home and should be taken care of like any other part of the house. After all, without a foundation your house wouldn’t stand. The three most common basement problems that can impose danger include flooding, mold growth and radon infiltration. However, there are many things you can do as a DIYer to prevent these basement disasters.
Flooding and Water Damage
Inspecting your basement for previous flooding is the first step to a healthy basement. Efflorescence remnants, which look like white chalky lines, are what is left after water retreats and the basement becomes dry again. This is a definite sign of previous leaking or flood.
Even though the problems are in the basement, the causes usually begin outside the house. To keep water outside your basement, the soil around the house should slope away from your home. Check this at least once a year as erosion and settling occur. You may have to add some soil in a few spots just to keep rain water from running into your basement.
Another area outside that is often overlooked is your rain gutter system. The gutters should be clean and allow water to flow. The downspouts should be long enough to carry water at least 4 or 5 feet away from the foundation. On the outside of the house, seal any cracks in foundation or around windows. Once back in the basement, check for cracks on the inside. Seal small cracks with a waterproof caulk. If there are larger cracks you may want to call a professional.
If you are thinking about waterproofing your basement, there are pros and cons to sealing the walls. On the pro side, sealing is a weekend DIY project and isn’t any more difficult than a basic paint job. It’s a little messier, but not any harder. On the con side, waterproofing only lasts for about 5 years and will have to be repeated. Waterproofing can also conceal any new problems that may occur and end up costing more to repair in the long run as your discover them.
Another thing that should be checked once a year is your sump pump, especially if you live in an area prone to heavy rains. Storms, heavy rain and power outages usually go hand in hand, so if your pump runs off of electricity, make sure you have a generator that can operate the pump if your power goes out. Consider getting a back-up sump pump that runs on batteries should the main pump fail.