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Tried-and-Tested Ways to Cure a Damp Basement Floor

mold forming in basement door frame
Because a basement is not a frequently visited area of a home, some problems in its walls and floors can go unchecked for months. Sometimes, people will not understand what they’re looking at when they see moisture dripping from the walls or an inexplicably wet basement floor until they see mold and mildew eating away at the tiles and panels.
Basements connect to upstairs living spaces through air ducts and various openings that serve as an avenue for drafts and humid air. When basements are used as spare bedrooms, pool rooms, or other recreational areas, finding a damp basement floor can be more annoying and harder to solve. It can also be a source of numerous health hazards that can put your family at risk.
If you’re finishing a basement and you don’t solve its moisture problem before applying the polish, you might be in for a heap of trouble. Damp proofing basement floors will be difficult and costly, but they will save you a lot of money and suffering.
House Flooding

Where is the Water Coming From?

Basements are vulnerable to many sources of water coming from all directions. Water might leak from the surrounding ground if rainfall is heavy in your region, and the basement was improperly graded. Moisture might come from appliances such as clothes dryers that are unvented, air humidifiers, and some bathroom installations.
However, generally speaking, only three sources of water leakage are possible:
  • External sources like rainwater seeping in from the ground
  • Interior sources like heaters and refrigerators
  • Humidity from the air that settles in the basement and condenses when touching cooler surfaces
If you’ve cleared out your basement and still notice water on the basement floor, your water source is external. If your house survived a hurricane or earthquake that can cause its foundation to settle in a different way than the engineers intended.
However, most of the time, the problem is the lack of a reliable downspout and gutter system, especially in project basements that were self-designed and built. Your strategy when fixing your basement will depend on what combination of symptoms you have below:
  • Dampness forming circles near the base of your concrete walls
  • Walls starting to drip with water out of nowhere
  • Oppressive humidity in the air even on cold days
  • Moisture on walls not exposed to as much heat as the rest of the basement
  • A foul odor that smells like mildew or mold
  • Wood paneling and carpets starting to deteriorate
  • Blisters or stains on your wall covers
  • The slow decay of your columns, joists, wood headers, and sill plates

Fixing a Leak Caused by Rainwater

When weathermen say an “inch of rain,” it sounds like there’s nothing to worry about, but that means over 1,200 gallons washing over just 2,000 square feet of land. Damp-proof basements are fitted with downspouts and a well-graded gutter system to avoid flooding. Making sure that all these are up to code is the best damp basement floor solution.
downspout near foundation causing cracks in the concrete
Because your house has a greater mass than the land around it, it will naturally settle. The ground surrounding the foundation will soon slope inward, inviting water into its lower recesses: your basement. If you notice water accumulating under your stoop, it means your house’s land wasn’t backfilled with enough compaction to prevent it from settling further.
The solution is to place enough soil around your house to form a slope that will direct water away from the foundation. The dimensions should be at least one inch per foot with a minimum of six feet. If this doesn’t solve the leakage, you might have a missing downspout or a defective gutter system. To Learn about other methods to keep water away from your foundation Click here.
If your downspout and gutters are not working, rainwater won’t be directed outward to your home’s perimeter. If your downspout has no working splash block or extender, it will lead a large amount of water from your roof toward the basement, which can cause massive flooding damage.
Every 50 feet, your roof eaves should have a downspout. The outlets and extensions must always be no less than four feet from your home’s wall. If your basement is sitting next to some concrete sidewalks, you can use it to offset some of the runoff in the rainy season.

How to Fix Leaks Properly and Permanently

The strategy for fixing leaks anywhere in your home is to focus on what’s easier to fix and what solutions cost less. If the problem persists, logically proceed to the next thing you suspect is broken, and the next, and the next. Leaks will never be fixed until you plug them at the source, as water will always find a way into your living space, no matter how many temporary fixes you apply.
basement waterproofing membrane
The simplest way to remove moisture in your basement is to clean it out. Remove humidifiers, avoid using the downstairs bathroom is there is one, and remove unvented dryers. If you notice condensation during the summer, use an air conditioner instead of directly ventilating the basement with humid air from outside.
Removing sources of humidity rounds out the cheap and easy options for fixing the leaks in your basement. The next ones will cost you if they’re done right, and you might need professional help.

When Do You Need a Professional?

At MT Drains & Plumbing, we can evaluate your downspouts, gutter systems, and your house’s surface grading to permanently eliminate all leaks from the rain. We will also check your drainage systems and plumbing to see if a leak is coming from the pipes inside or outside the house.
We can dehumidify your basement by installing a sub-slab depressurization system that will expel the hot, wet air in your basement to the outside world, as well.

Dealing with leaks in a basement is difficult and time-consuming. If you’d rather devote your time to more productive work, leave the dirty work to our professionals. Contact MT Drains & Plumbing today at (905) 761-5551 and request a free quote today.


Paul S

Paul has more then 20 years in basement waterproofing and plumbing projects experience. Looking for an advice from an expert plumber? Make sure to read Paul's articles about residential waterproofing and plumbing projects in Toronto.

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