The weather is one thing none of us can control. When it wants to rain, it’s going to rain. And even if you’ve gotten yourself indoors where you’re safe and dry, that doesn’t mean every part of your home is protected. If your basement is leaking, it an affect everything from the safety of your home to your personal health. You don’t have to have two inches of water in your basement to have a problem. Leaks often start small and gradually get worse. Here are some easy ways to check to check to see if your basement is showing signs of leaks.
Step 1: Check for moisture. If you are noticing moisture in your basement, there’s a good sign that it is leaking. Most moisture will come from cracks where your basement wall meets the floor (the cove area). If you notice any moisture coming from cracks in basement walls or floors, your basement has a leak. If not properly dealt with, these cracks can jeopardize the strength of your home’s foundation.
Step 2: Check your basement walls. There are a couple of signs that will tell you if there is a leak coming from your wall. If your walls have a white or chalky substance on them, you have efflorescence. This occurs when water enters your foundation wall and leeches out lime from the wall leaving a white or chalky residue. In addition to white residue, if the walls of your basement have any brown spots or discoloration, you most likely have acid damage. This happens when water from outside your home leaks into your basement and carries acid from the soil. The acid left behind on your wall can cause wall deterioration if not taken care of. To make sure it is an exterior leak, try taping a piece of aluminum foil to your wall with an airtight seal. Leave the foil for a couple of days. If you notice moisture on the seal, you’ve got an exterior leak.
Step 3: Check for mold. Mold can be one of the most hazardous results of a leaking basement. Mold and fungi release spores into the air which you can inhale. Mold can cause many health problems for you and your family, ranging from eye irritation to asthma and infection. Two signs that you have mold include a musty smell and/or small black and white specks on your wall. If you find that mold is present in your basement the best thing to do is clean the area with warm soapy water, then with a solution of ¼ cup bleach mixed with 1 gallon of water, then dry. Vacuum, wash, and remove any exposed material to get rid of spores. DO NOT paint or caulk over mold. The mold will simply grow underneath the paint and it will peel off of your walls. For more information on mold and how to get rid of it, please visit http://www.cdc.gov/mold/
Once you have determined you have a leak, the next thing to do is have your basement examined by a waterproofing expert who will be able to explain the extent of the leak and the best ways to remedy it. If you leave the problem untreated because it seems like minor problem, and you think you don’t have the budget to remedy it, just remember, the problems will not only persist, but it will get worse, thus resulting in even greater damage and greater cost. Better to deal with a minor leak rather than a major one.
Barry Antonelli, the Founder and President of Ameri-Dry ® Systems http://www.keepamericadry.com/, is a waterproofing expert who has dedicated three decades of his life to solving all types of basement, crawlspace, and foundation water problems. He began his career in 1978, a time when aggressive companies and pushy salesmen were the norm, but quickly changed the face of the industry by instituting programs to empower the customer, including the industry’s first Customer Relations Division; an independent Customer Service Department; and the industry’s first Lifetime Warranty Program. By the mid-1990s, Antonelli’s company was waterproofing over 1,000 homes and structures every year, while still offering a Full Life-of-the-Structure Warranty. His commitment to customer service and to developing innovative techniques for solving wet basement, wet crawlspace, and foundation problems continues. Mr. Antonelli can be reached at Contact ». Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/AmeriDry