This is a very common concern among potential home buyers upon reading their home inspection report. While moisture in your basement/crawl space is obviously not desirable, the good news is that (provided the area is not always wet), there is little reason for serious alarm. It may also comfort you to know that a damp basement/crawl is a very common problem with an easy fix. However, this certainly does not mean you should neglect this repair: inside the basement and crawl space reside most a home’s structural components, major plumbing/electrical system elements, and most central heating systems. A wet basement and crawl space is one of the main sources of moisture related issues in structures such as mold. This moisture, if unchecked, can cause damage to all areas of the home-even the roofing! With the unpredictable weather we receive in Ohio, exterior soil can be dry one week and then entirely saturated the next week for several feet underground. Gravity then causes the water in the saturated soil to drain to the lower parts of a home (i.e., your basement and crawl space) naturally being this destination.
Moisture in a home’s basement and crawl space are so common that you should assume every basement/crawl as having a potential water and moisture issue. The root of these issues are most commonly found on the outside of the home. You can have a basement/crawl that is mostly dry most of the time by simply addressing these problems and keeping precautions in place. It is important to remember that a completely dry basement is little more than a fantasy, and any moisture fix that promises a lifetime guarantee is most likely a sham, unless you live somewhere with consistently dry weather.
As already stated, much of the water entering a basement or crawl space is coming from outside. The primary source of this water is from roofs and surface water drainage. This is a good thing, as roof and surface water is sometimes the only problem a homeowner needs to fix to protect their home. There is a fairly large array of different methods or systems you can install to ward off unwelcome moisture; the most basic of these options will be discussed below.
Slope the soil around the home so as to encourage water to collect away from the house, and divert water from the roof and gutters away from the house as well. Do not allow gutter water to drain close to the home, as this will only result in water pooling around the house’s foundation. Don’t forget to maintain your roof, gutters, downspout, and other drainage systems to keep them functioning properly. Seal cracks in the walls with a concrete chalk, and take care when using your crawl space for storage. Many crawl spaces are too small to be used for storage, and using this area for storage reduces necessary air flow and creates a more welcoming environment for rodents and other pests. Not every home has a sump pump, but if your home has one, ensure it is maintained/checked twice a year.
If you do get moisture in your basement or crawl space. Check the exterior first, likely the grading is not as good as it should be and /or your gutters or downspouts are doing as well as they should. Gutter and downspouts each need cleaned and checked to be certain that they are well connected to direct water away from the home as far as possible.
Be cautious of basement waterproofing companies. It is in their best interest to sell home owners the most expensive repairs repairs and systems, often costing thousands of dollars. Sometimes all that is really needed is better exterior grading and making certain the gutters and downspouts are working as they should. With proper grading and gutter systems the amount of moisture needed to reach the inside of your home never gets there in the first place because your grading the gutter system sent the water far away.
The amount of moisture in your basement or crawl will always vary with the weather, the season, and the amount of rainfall; but providing you do your research and spend a little time on preventing what you can… don’t worry about it, especially if it only happens occasionally.
The Habitation Investigation company provides home inspections in the Central Ohio Columbus and home inspection in the Dayton Ohio areas, Hilliard, Powell, Pickerington, Pataskala, New Albany, Delaware, Gahanna, Westerville, Galloway, Grove City, Worthington, Dublin, Marysville, London, West Jefferson, Mechanicsburg and other cities surrounding Columbus, Ohio. The most/best reviewed home inspection company in Columbus Ohio is Habitation Investigation LLC. The website is: https://www.homeinspectionsinohio.com
Written by Kaitlyn Troth of Troth Media