How do you use your basement? Is it a finished living space or a just a place to store some of your belongings? No matter how you use it one thing is certain: it’s important to keep it dry. During the winter months, this can be challenging for a few reasons. First, basements tend to hold more moisture than the rest of the house. They’re not well-protected from temperature fluctuations, and they’re surrounded by soil that’s typically damp, especially during rainy or snowy seasons. What’s more, if you experience a heavy snowstorm that then melts quickly, you risk a basement flood. How can you combat the natural, dank atmosphere of your basement and keep it dry all winter? We’ve got a few tips.
- Mind the gaps. Any gaps or cracks in your foundation or basement walls or floors can let water sneak in and damage your basement. It can also ooze through openings where pipes pass through the walls or at the joints between the floors and walls. These cracks and gaps need to be repaired to protect your basement from water but filling them might not be the only necessary step. If the problem is groundwater seepage, you’ll need to contact the professionals for help creating a drainage system to carry the water away from your basement and foundation.
- Reduce the humidity inside. Some people turn off their dehumidifiers in winter, but it’s best to keep it going all year long. Set it to keep the humidity between 30 and 50 percent, even in the winter. If you have a high-quality humidifier, it won’t cost you any energy to do this because it won’t kick on when it’s not needed. In fact, you’ll save money because you won’t have to repair moisture damage in your basement down the road.
- Fix drainage problems outside. Moisture in your basement doesn’t just happen; it has to come from somewhere. Assess your exterior to figure out what’s happening, and then take steps to prevent it.
- Clear your gutters and downspouts. Blocked gutters can cause water to spill directly onto the foundation. So can downspouts that aren’t directed far enough away from the house. Maintaining this one chore can prevent a world of trouble with water in your basement.
- Look to your landscaping. Your yard should slope away from your home, and your plants should be at least a few feet from the foundation, so they won’t trap moisture and cause it to leak into your basement.
- Pile up the dirt. Did you know it’s smart to continually add soil around your home? You don’t want to overdo it, but dirt around your home provides a barrier to keep moisture out of your home’s foundation. When it settles, this protective barrier degrades, and the compacted earth puts more pressure on your foundation. Ideally, the dirt around your home will be six inches higher than the dirt ten feet away, and six inches lower than your siding.
- Check the drainage. Make sure your outdoor storm drains are clear and keep several inches of gravel in your window wells so they’ll drain correctly. If you have footing drains, underground pipes meant to channel water away from your foundation, keep them clean. You may be able to access them through a drain or manhole cover in your basement or a cleanout pipe with a cap. Flush them with water and if there’s a clog, call a plumber to clear it with an auger.
- Utilize a sump pump. If you don’t have a sump pump, think about installing one. A sump pump system is one of the most effective ways to remove water from the basement. If you already have a sump pump, check it regularly to make sure it’s functioning properly. Keep it clean because clogs can prevent it from being effective during a winter storm. Inspect the discharge hose and pipe because if they freeze, they’ll become unusable.
- Make sure your basement’s insulated. Want to keep your basement dry? Keep the temperature relatively steady by insulating the space. Insulation will also prevent snow from blowing through any openings, which is a bonus. And if your basement is insulated and warm, the rest of your house will be warmer, too. Insulate around pipes while you’re at it. Frozen pipes are bad news because they can burst, flooding your home and causing serious damage to your belongings.
- Clear the snow ASAP. When you have a heavy snowstorm, it can be tempting to just shovel the walk and leave the snow piled up against your house. This, however, can be a catastrophic mistake. Melting snow can easily flood your home, and particularly your basement. Shovel the snow away from the house and if you have a deck or patio, shovel it off of those structures as well. You don’t want melting snow to flow off your deck and into your basement.
When you need help keeping your basement clean and dry, Budget Waterproofing can help. In addition to waterproofing, mold remediation, mold cleaning, and crawl space encapsulation, we provide foundation repair, going beyond patching cracks to find the source of the problem. We also offer installation of the EZ Breathe home ventilation system, to clean the air inside your home. At Budget Waterproofing, we’ve got more than 55 years of experience servicing both commercial and residential customers throughout Maryland. We’re proud of our craftsmanship and confident in our skills, and all of our technicians are fully licensed and insured. We also hold an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau of Maryland and serve as a member of the Maryland Multi-Housing Association. Whether you need foundation repair, basement waterproofing, a drainage system, crawl space waterproofing, or egress window installation, we’ve got you covered, with the experience and skills necessary to improve your basement and protect your family. For more information, contact us today.