9 Tips for Keeping Your Basement Dry

Amy Pawlukiewicz
Written by Amy Pawlukiewicz
Updated January 11, 2022
A house’s basement used as a design living room
Photo: NelleG / E+ / Getty Images

Don’t let a wet basement put a damper on your day

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Basements, as versatile as they are for TV rooms, laundry, and playrooms, are prone to dampness and water leakage. If you’ve ever experienced a damp basement, you know that it has a very unique smell—in addition to being incredibly inconvenient. Plus, moisture in your basement is a one-way ticket to water damage and mold.

However, you don’t have to resign yourself to plugging your nose every time you head down to the basement to play video games or watch a movie. Here are nine tips for keeping your basement dry.

1. Use a Dehumidifier

One of the easiest—and potentially, most cost-effective—ways to keep your basement dry is to invest in a dehumidifier. These tools are great preventative measures for basement moisture buildup. Some humidifiers allow you to connect a hose to the floor drain for the condensed water to run off, or some come with a tray that collects the water, and you simply empty it when an indicator light comes on. 

Freestanding dehumidifiers usually cost between $50 and $300, while a permanent basement humidifier unit costs around $800 to $1,200 to install.

2. Insulate Your Pipes

Specifically, insulate your cold pipes. On hot and humid days, condensation collects on cold pipes, which drips onto the floor or down the walls. Insulating your pipes will also help to keep them from freezing when the temperatures drop. 

You can either have a professional do the installation or purchase foam pipe wrap and do it yourself. Foam pipe wrap usually starts at $0.20 per linear foot, whereas hiring a pro to install pipe insulation costs about $600

3. Improve Your Ventilation

If you have a bathroom in your basement, it’s likely contributing to all the humidity, especially if there’s a shower or bathtub. Install an exhaust fan that vents to the outside to help prevent moisture buildup. 

Putting in an exhaust fan typically costs between $250 and $550, and it’s a project best left to a professional since it requires electrical work.

4. Vent Dryer Outside

Your dryer is another appliance that should be venting into the outdoors. In many homes, the laundry room is in the basement, and if you don’t have proper ventilation from your dryer, it just releases that moisture back into your basement. 

Don’t hang your clothes to dry in the basement, either—take them upstairs or hang them on a clothesline outside, so the moisture evaporating from the clothes doesn’t hang out in your basement.

5. Get a Sump Pump

If you live in an area that’s prone to flooding, or you have a finished basement (or both), a sump pump is a must. Sump pumps are devices that stop water from flooding into your basement by draining it away from your home, preventing water and moisture buildup. 

There are many different types of sump pumps that suit different needs, so consult a local sump pump installer to get advice on what would be best for your home.

6. Waterproof Your Walls and Floors

Waterproofing your basement by sealing your unfinished concrete will ensure that the porous material doesn’t soak up any moisture in the atmosphere. This step is especially important if you have a finished basement with furniture, as it will help prevent your stuff from being damaged by a downpour. 

Using waterproof paint on the walls will stop moisture from seeping through them as well. Waterproofing paints and sealants usually cost between $1 and $8 per square foot.

7. Ensure Gutters and Downspouts Work

A man on a ladder cleaning his house’s gutter
Photo: Alphotographic / E+ / Getty Images

Your gutters and downspouts aim to divert water away from your home, so if they’re not working properly, they can cause a huge problem with your basement. Keep your gutters clean by checking them at least twice a year for debris and buildup, making sure there’s nothing clogging up your downspouts, and ensuring they’re pointing away from your foundation.

8. Install Metal Window Wells

If basement windows aren’t constructed specifically to divert water away from your home, they can actually contribute to the moisture problem by collecting water. You can prevent this issue by installing metal window wells, then covering them with gravel or pebbles. The small rocks stop water retention; that way, the water doesn’t seep into your walls.

9. Divert Water From Your Driveway or Sloping Land

It doesn’t do much good to install a humidifier, seal your basement, and take other preventive measures if the land on your property is directing water towards your foundation. If you see water gathering in puddles around the base of your home and your basement is retaining water, you should call in a local landscaper. They can make sure your landscaping isn’t damaging your foundation, and your driveway isn’t causing water to seep into your house. 

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