Living in a 200+ year old farm house is usually a very exciting experience, however I was certainly not excited when I woke up on Sunday to ~3 inches of standing water in our basement! Now that I’ve become very well-acquainted with my shop-vac, I thought I would share a few tips that I’ve learned through experience, that may help YOU in the future:
  • Diagnose the Problem: Where is the water coming from?
    • Tape a large piece of aluminum foil to your basement wall. Wait a few days and inspect the piece of foil. If there is water condensation on the inside of the foil, then the source of the water is humidity in the air. If there is water condensation on the outside of the foil, then the source of the water is coming from the outdoors (oftentimes from rainwater, groundwater, or melting snow leaking into or around the foundation)
  • How to Get Rid of Excess Humidity
    • Eliminating the source of the humidity will dry out your basement. Consider wrapping foil tape around leaky dryer vents to prevent damp air from entering your basement. If you have a basement bathroom, make sure there is a vent fan and tell your family to turn it on whenever they shower. I would also recommend running a dehumidifier for additional help removing moisture in the air.
    • Condensation from cold water pipes may also be contributing to your problem. Consider adding foam pipe insulation to your cold water pipes – it’s cheap and easy to handle.
  • How to Keep Water away from your Foundation
    • Make sure that rainwater or melting snow is not being diverted back towards your home as a result of settled soil. Professionals recommend at least a 6 foot wide slope that drops about 4 inches away from the foundation. Don’t bother with gravel or lawn edging, they only make matters worse. I’ve seen clients who have laid down 6-mil poly, and then covered it with mulch or soil with grass on top.
    • Do you have functional gutters and downspouts? I think it’s safe to say that this is the biggest culprit of why there is water in our basement. It’s important to have your gutters inspected and cleaned REGULARLY. But gutters aren’t the only important piece. Having functional downspouts that divert water at least 4-6 feet away from the foundation is probably the most important piece of advice anyone has ever given me in regards to keeping a basement dry in an old house. 
  • Drainage Systems & Sump Pumps
    • Sometimes, basements just chronically leak. If this is the case in your home, I HIGHLY suggest speaking with a professional about installing a drainage system and sump pump. While a professionally installed system can often be expensive, they are a HUGE value add for both you and potential buyers down the road. Leaky Basements are one of the largest concerns for new buyers, and being able to show them that you took the initiative to protect your own personal items before you even considered selling, will help to gain their trust early on.
If you have any questions regarding your damp basement, I recommend that you reach out to The Basement Doctor of Cincinnati for a consultation today.