Moisture in Basements – Causes and Solutions

Last Updated on January 2, 2024 by Kimberly Crawford

Basements are usually dark but if you observe closely they are often dump as well. Dampness in the basement is a common occurrence that it is deemed normal.

Caution, moisture in the basement is not your friend! You ought to keep an eye out on the moisture levels in your basement lest you want to risk the hazards associated with it.

Let’s discuss on the common causes of dampness in your basement and more fundamentally, how you can Fix the situation. Let’s dive right in!

moisture in basements solutions

How do I know That I have a Moisture Problem?

Before getting to the root cause of moisture in your basement, the big question is, ‘How do you know there is a moisture problem in your basement?’

The answer to this is not always simple because more often, there are no visible paddle of water down there.

So how do you tell if the amount of moisture is getting out of hand? Moisture manifests in different ways including:

  • Smell of rot and heavy dump air
  • Water paddles on the floor
  • Destroyed carpets
  • Presence of dampness rings on the walls and floor
  • Wet walls especially to the touch.

Having mentioned that, let’s get into what’s causing dampness in your basement.

Related: 15+ DIY Basement Ceiling Ideas

Causes of dampness in your basement


Water leak

Well, this appears like an everyday occurrence. It is vital to remember that indoor water leaks are in fact the leading cause of basement dampness in many households.

Leaks essentially originate from broken pipes and your everyday appliances for instance dishwashers or even a sink. You should always be on the lookout for leaks and fix them immediately.

Identifying the source of the leak is usually a no brainer, simply look for a paddle of water and the faulty appliance or pipe is usually nearby.

If you are good with your hands, repair the leak or better yet call in your plumber and get it fixed. If properly fixed, then the problem is as good as gone.

RelatedBasement Leaks Where The Wall Meets The Floor

Condensation and humid air outside

If you leave your basement window open during summers, you may have noticed moisture on the walls. To an unexperienced eye, it may seem like a wall leakage which is not usually the case.

Let me explain, when warm air outside gets into your basement, it condenses on the cooler basement walls. If you have experience this before then you are in luck because fixing it rather easy.

This usually happens since there is no escape route for the warm air. Get yourself an exhaust fan that should get the air out. Another option is installing a fan or two in your basement which will have the same effect.

If the condensation is concentrated on a particular area you could insulate those spots to ensure condensation doesn’t occur there. Generally, increasing circulation in your basement will solve most of the minor condensation problems.

Grading flaws

Grading usually serves to direct rain water away from your house by creating a slope facing outwards. In the event that grading was insufficient, rainwater accumulates on your walls and finally seeps its way to your basement.

This usually happens when the soil around your house wasn’t compacted allowing the soil to settle creating this particular flaw.

For this case there are two ways you can get around the situation.

To begin, make trenches around your house where the rain water will collect and be directed away from your house instead of settling around the walls.

Secondly, you could place earth around the perimeter of your walls and create a gradient away from the house. This should do the trick for you.

See also: 15+ Best Basement Office Ideas

Foundation cracks

Cracks on the foundation could be the source of all the moisture problems in your basement. It is common for cracks to develop on the foundation and create openings for water getting into the basement.

Remember that water tends to further open pre-existing cracks creating bigger opening for even more water to pass through. In this regard, it is always important to get ahead of the situation before it gets any worse.

Most cracks are usually easy to repair on your own, a simple patch up should be enough for small cracks. However, some cracks will require professional attention, so be sure to seek help.

Misplaced and faulty gutters

You definitely understand the use of gutters downspouts as far as collection and redirection of water is concerned. Any problem with your gutter will always cause you problems because water eventually will find its way inside your house.

Sometimes it isn’t even about bad gutters but design flaws with the particular gutter. If the gutter doesn’t extend outwards adequately then they are of no help to you. Remember to unclog your gutters and remove all the leaves and debris that could cause blockages.

Consider installing gutters if you don’t have any. Ensure every downspout has at least a 4-meter extension that will direct water away from your foundation wall.

Related: 8 Alternatives to gutters

Excess humidity

Maybe you have tried every trick in the book but the paint is still peeling off in your basement walls. Excess humidity could be your problem!

Moist air tends to get trapped in the basement and sometimes ventilation doesn’t cut it.

If this is the case, then it’s definitely advisable to buy a reliable dehumidifier from A good humidifier will solve all the humidity problem in your basement.

Poor drain tile and sump pit

It goes without saying that many households do not have drainage in their basement since initially, basements were not supposed to be inhabited.

For the modern house owners, this isn’t the case, modern houses feature subsurface drainage systems that often malfunction causing moisture in the basement.

Failure of a single unit for instance the sump pump means a complete malfunction of the entire drainage system.

If you suspect that this is the cause of moisture in the basement make sure you get professional help. Unfortunately, fixing subterranean drainage systems requires specialized skills that can only be provided by an expert.

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It is always wise to get ahead of every moisture problem before it escalates to anything major. Doing this will not only save you money but also ensure you stay free from any associated health hazards.