Home buying can not only be exciting, but also nerve-wracking. After all, a home purchase is one of the most important investments of a person’s life, but the weight of sifting through listings, navigating open houses, and weighing the pros and cons of a home can be daunting. Even after you find the hme of your dreams, the work is not done. After you negotiate prices and deal with all of the legal mumbo-jumbo, you’ve still got to face the ever important home inspection. Though a pain, a home inspection is essential, as it can uncover hidden problems within a home. While we recommend using a licensed and reputable professional to conduct an inspection, there are some simple steps that you — as a homebuyer — can do to determine if your new basement is hiding any unwanted secrets.
Take a deep breath. When you first enter into the basement of a home there is one question you must ask yourself: “Does it have a musty smell?” Since basements are usually cool and dark areas, they can become the perfect environment for mold to grow. If the basement has a musty or damp smell, there is most likely mold present. It is important that you take care of this IMMEDIATELY! Mold can send spores into the air, making it toxic for you and your family.
Look for discoloration. Another clear-cut sign of water damage in a basement is discoloration or water stains. The most common area for discoloration to occur is along any windows or doors that your basement may have, as well as in the cove — the area at which the basement wall meets the floor. If you see any discoloration or water stains, a leak has occurred and should be brought to the home inspector’s attention.
Check the sump pump. This is one of the most crucial steps in buying a home with a basement. The sump pump is what removes any water that accumulates in the sump of the basement during flooding or heavy storms. Without a working sump pump, the integrity of your basement is compromised. To check the sump pump, simply fill the well near the top and wait for the pump to turn on. If it does not, bring this to the attention of the home inspector IMMEDIATELY. This is an issue that needs to be rectified.
Not all basement flooding issues are caused by indoor sources. There are a few things that homebuyers should check on the outside of the home to keep their basements flood-free, as well.
Inspect the gutters. As many of you know, gutters are meant to draw water away from the perimeter of a home. Broken or faulty rain gutters can be the main culprit when it comes to basement flooding. If the water is not drained properly, it will pool around your home and can find its way into your basement, so be sure that the previous owners have cleared the gutters and there are no signs that water has seeped into the house.
Check any basement windows. Having a window in your basement is a great way to add light to a potentially dark and confined space. Though windows may look nice, they can also be the source of many basement flooding issues. Be sure to check the perimeter of the window outside of the home. Is it covered? If not falling leaves, twigs, and other debris can clog drainage, pooling water around the window frame and eventually leak into the basement.
Survey the grading of the yard. This may seem like a job that should be left to a professional, but homebuyers can inspect the grading of the home’s yard for any issues. The yard of a home should have “positive grading”, meaning that the yard should be angled to ensure that water flows away from the home’s perimeter. If you suspect the home has “negative grading”, be sure to bring it to the attention of the home inspector, who may need to call a contractor to regrade the yard.
Buying a home is an important time in your life. Not only are you investing in a home, you are investing in your future. That said, it is important that you take the time to truly know the property you are about to purchase and live in. These few steps can get you moving in the right direction.
With over 30 years of basement waterproofing experience, Ameri-Dry offers patented, permanently dry systems that are backed by a full lifetime warranty. For more information about Ameri-Dry and Ameri-Dry Guy, visit (www.keepamericadry.com), follow Ameri-Dry on Facebook or Twitter.