What Causes Basement Moisture?

Basements can be notorious for being dank, humid places, but don’t take the moisture as an ordinary sign – it can mean an issue exists that could affect the integrity of your entire house. From foundation shifting to hazardous mould, basement moisture can be a sign of a lot of different problems.

What causes basement moisture – and more importantly, how can you solve it? Here are five major causes of basement moisture and how you can ensure they don’t become widespread issues.


Internal Leaks

When identifying the cause of moisture in your basement, always check for sources inside the home. Water can spring from your shower or tub, sink, toilet, washing machine, dishwasher, or pipe. If the moisture in your basement seems to be coming from a ceiling or wall directly below a bathroom or kitchen, an interior water leak is likely to blame. Fix the leak or call a plumber to fix it for you; if it’s the only cause of the moisture, you’ve likely solved the problem.

Condensation can also be an internal issue. If the moisture in your basement is coming from condensation, it means that warm air is meeting your cool basement walls and floor to create beads (or even rivulets) of moisture. Often, a dehumidifier can solve this problem!


Downspouts And Gutters

Downspouts and gutters are necessary for directing rainwater away from your foundation. But if they are blocked, cracked, not far enough away, or missing, rain and snowmelt will find a way to your foundation. The water can build up in the soil as it drains toward your house; chances are, it will find its way inside into your basement.

Clean out and repair any gutters, or install them if none are in place. One downspout should be in place for every 50 feet of the roof eave, and they should extend at least four feet away from the foundation.


Poor Landscape Grading

There’s more to keeping moisture away from the foundation than downspouts, though! Rain and groundwater can end up next to your basement when the grading of your soil points toward your home. It often happens when the fill dirt around your foundation isn’t compacted – as it settles, the slope can change dramatically and in the wrong direction. If the water drains towards your home, it will accumulate against the foundation and eventually make its way inside, either through a crack or by leaching through the concrete. 

The ground around your foundation should always slope away from the house, not towards it. You can alter the grading by building up the dirt around your foundation to create a slope of one inch per foot for a minimum of six feet.


Weeping Tile Or Sump Pump Problems

Your home’s drainage system relies on components you can’t see: a subsurface system mostly made up of the weeping tiles and your sump pump. The subsurface system will collect water and take it away from your foundation. However, when a piece of weeping tile clogs, a connection breaks, or the sump pump goes on the fritz, water can build up around the foundation. 

If you have ruled out other problems, take a moisture meter around the perimeter of your basement – it can give you a better picture of the scale of your drainage problem. Sometimes, though, it takes a professional eye to spot and fix these problems.


Foundation Cracks

Unless they are protected, cracks can form in foundations. Some cracks are the result of poor craftsmanship – for instance, if floor joists don’t connect with the walls, the soil pressure can move the walls, creating weaknesses. Other cracks are the result of poor drainage and water sitting next to the foundation. Excess moisture in the soil can exert hydrostatic pressure on the walls, causing fractures and forcing water through the porous concrete.

Like the issues with your subsurface drainage, cracks in the foundation are hard for homeowners to detect and fix themselves. Call the Ashworth Drainage team if you think that cracks are letting moisture into your basement – it’s best to tackle them as soon as possible. We don’t simply patch up cracks – all our work protects your foundation for the future!