As a home inspector I find that basements are susceptible to water damage and that homeowners might not realize there are some simple fixes that can sometimes prevent this problem. This problem of water leakage happens most often when the exterior parts of the home are draining improperly.
There are a few simple ways to keep water out of your basement and keep it as good as new. The key is to start with the outside of the house and pay attention to where water is draining. If it appears to be flowing inward toward the foundation of the house, it’s important to fix this problem before it gets worse. Here are some tips:
- Fix the Grading: When the ground slopes around the house—called grading—it causes rain water to spill toward the basement, rather than away. The cure is to get the water flowing in the opposite direction. This can be easily fixed with simple landscaping fixes. You don’t need a big slope to get the water to flow in the right direction, but a small adjustment in the grading, such as using dirt, rocks, and woodchips does the trick. These elements can create an angle that is better suited to keep water out of your basement.
- Install or Repair Gutters: When rainwater or melting snow accumulates on the roof of a house without gutters, it tends to flow off the roof into big puddles in concentrated areas. The water usually ends up seeping toward the foundation and can end up producing moisture in the basement.
- Install Downspouts: Downspouts are just as important, if not more, than gutters. Downspouts are the vertical pipes that carry rainwater down to the ground level and spill it away from the house. They prevent the water from gathering in gutters and gushing straight down. Gutters should have the proper slope to a downspout and there shouldn’t be anything that causes the water to get backed up.
From my perspective as an inspector, I find that moisture problems in basements often build up for years without repair. Since most homeowners spend the majority of their time in the main levels of the house, the basement rooms can get neglected and major damage can occur. When it comes to keeping water out of your basement, don’t let yourself get caught off guard.