4 Things Contractors Look for During a Basement Inspection

Scott Dylan Westerlund
Updated May 11, 2022
New family room in the basement
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Your basement contractor needs to inspect these four things

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Looking for a contractor to help you get to the bottom of basement issues? Contractors know about the "hot spots" in basements where structural breaches, moisture issues, and other dangers are likely to lurk. A qualified contractor will clue you in on what's going on in the lower level when you read home inspection report findings. It's still smart to know what your contractor will be looking at before then.

  1. Cracks in Your Walls or Foundation

    Contractors are quick to look for signs of cracks because they threaten your home's structural integrity. Cracks usually form along your home's joints. However, contractors will review every possible crack location to avoid overlooking dangers.

    The important thing to know about protocols before, during, and after home inspections is that your contractor will be able to suggest remediation options for waterproofing your basement against cracks. However, a serious crack in your foundation may require you to consult a structural engineer.

    There are some ways to be pretty confident that you have a crack even before your contractor arrives. Here are the specific crack types your contractor will look for in your basement.

    1. Horizontal cracks: Stress and pressure on your home's foundation caused by rainwater and groundwater are usually responsible for horizontal cracks.

    2. Vertical cracks: If a builder cut corners with inferior materials when constructing your home, moisture seepage may cause vertical cracks.

    3. Diagonal Cracks: Disasters happen when pressure from rainwater and groundwater sources causes uneven settling.

    Stair-Step cracks: These unique cracks form down your home's mortar lines due to pressure from rainwater and groundwater if you have a home built using mortar.

  2. Your Sump Pump

    Sump pump installed in a home basement
    Photo: IcemanJ / Adobe Stock

    If your home has a sump pump, your basement contractor will surely take a look. Sump pumps keep groundwater from leaking into your basement, which can cause structural damage as well as humidity, mold, and bad odors. Signs of clogs in the inlet screen or discharge line or indicators that your sump pump’s motor is not working will trigger your inspector to dig deeper and search for additional leaks or signs of flooding. 

  3. Your Home's Plumbing System

    Basement contractors also look at plumbing pipes to detect potential leak sources. This will be one of the first items on the checklist if you call an inspector for a leak.

    Exposed pipes encounter dampness and moisture. Eventually, they will rust, degrade, and drip in places they shouldn’t. Here are the obvious signs of a basement leak:

    • Basement temperature dips

    • Foggy basement windows

    • Sticking doors

    • Warming items

    • Mold

    • Odors

  4. Your Insulation

     Large unfinished basement with wall insulation
    Photo: Jason / Adobe Stock

    Did you know that your home's insulation helps create a barrier between the dry interior of your basement and the soil outside? Insulation failing to provide waterproofing support actually creates the perfect environment for dangerous mold to form. Wet insulation can even attract rodents from the outside who will chew through insulation and render it much less effective. 

    Signs that it’s time to replace your basement insulation include holes, rodent droppings, mold, and moisture. You may get the word from a basement inspector that it's time to replace your insulation if your current insulation fails to insulate properly or creates a health hazard in your home.

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