6 Easy Ways to Keep Your Basement From Getting Damp

Lydia Schapiro
Written by Lydia Schapiro
Updated December 14, 2021
Basement with stone fireplace
Photo: pics721 / Adobe Stock

Highlights

Highlights:

  • Moisture can cause various types of damage to your basement.

  • Having a damp basement is common and often due to weather-related events.

  • Measures you can take to prevent and reduce basement moisture include sealing your walls and using a dehumidifier.

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Trying to maintain a dry basement is a common struggle. These rooms have a reputation for being moist and damp, especially after a particularly powerful rain or snowstorm. Too much moisture can result in issues, ranging from damaged foundation, ruined furniture, and moldy drywall—all of which are no fun. Luckily, you can take a few steps to keep your basement dryer and protect everything you store down there. 

1. Understand the Signs of Basement Moisture Damage

Knowing the warning signs for basement moisture is crucial to preventing severe damage. Below are some common red flags that may indicate your basement is experiencing dangerous levels of moisture:

  • Mildew or mold

  • Musty odors

  • Stains or discoloration

  • Puddles or accumulated water

If you see any of these signs, there are many things you can do, some of which can be DIY projects. Useful actions to take are waterproofing your basement, getting a dehumidifier, and adding insulation. As always, if you’re finding extreme moisture damage, you can contact a local water damage service.

2. Seal Your Walls and Floor

You can get ahead of potential leaks by sealing your walls and floor. This material will act as a waterproofing barrier between the concrete or masonry and leaks. Creating a tight seal can help keep that pesky moisture out the next time it rains. Note that this is not a solution, but a preventative measure to leaks which you should execute before finding water damage. 

A popular material for basement sealer is silicone caulk. Applying this is a doable DIY job, but if you have doubts, you can hire a local basement waterproofer to make sure it’s done right. When hiring a professional service, the cost to waterproof your basement is between $3 and $10 per square foot on average.

Try a Dehumidifier

Woman changing water container of dehumidifier
Photo: maryviolet / Adobe Stock

Basements tend to be more humid than other parts of the house, so prevention is key here. While it won’t do much for an active moisture problem, if you want to help prevent excess moisture, you can add a dehumidifier to your basement.

You can go for a smaller, portable unit, but if you really want to make a big impact, you can invest in the cost of a permanent basement dehumidifier. These range in cost from $800 to $1,200 for a small 75-pint model, to $1,700 to $2,000 for a 130-pint model.

4. Insulate Pipes and Walls

On hot and humid days, in particular, pipes can lead to lots of condensation drippage, contributing to the moisture level in your basement. Insulating your pipes can help to reduce this condensation. Plus, in extremely cold climates, insulating your basement walls can save energy and reduce your heating bills. 

The most common type of insulation is foam insulation, which is relatively inexpensive and easy to install yourself. The cost to insulate a basement is around $1.50 to $2.50 per square foot on average. If you’re not confident about your skills, you can always contact a local insulation contractor who can answer any questions or help you through the installation.   

5. Keep the Gutters Clean

Over time, debris like leaves can accumulate in your gutters, resulting in blockage. The consequence of clogged gutters is often water spilling right against the sides of your home, seeping inside. 

Regularly inspecting and cleaning the downspouts and gutters can help direct water flow away from your home’s foundation. You can also use downspout extensions to direct rainfall away from the foundation. 

6. Look Out for Critters

If insects are continually popping up in your basement, don’t ignore the issue. Small insects in the basement aren’t just bothersome; they are a warning sign for moisture. Insects search for moisture, and basements are a common spot where they can find it. If you see more than the occasional bug, it may be time to get your basement inspected.

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