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The 7 Worst Problems to Have in Your Basement

If your basement is unfinished, it's probably not a place where you want to spend a lot of time. And if you have a crawl space, you probably don't spend any time in there unless there's a problem, like a plumbing leak.

Even if you don't plan to use your basement as living space or your crawl space for storage, hazards lurking in your basement or crawl space can spread to other parts of your home. Here, we'll uncover 7 common problems lurking in the basement or crawl space, what to look for, and resources to help with fixing each problem.

1. Mold

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Mold is common in basements and crawl spaces, especially when there's too much moisture. A leaky foundation or condensation from appliances could be to blame.

What to look for: A musty smell in the basement or crawl space probably means there's a mold problem. Mold growth can usually be seen in areas where there are leaks or water damage. Mold can grow on any item or building material made from organic substances, such as drywall, wood, carpet, insulation, wallpaper, furniture, cardboard boxes, and clothing. Mold spores can cause health issues, such as runny nose, sneezing, coughing, watery eyes, and itchy skin.

2. Water

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Wet basements or crawl spaces can be caused by flooding, water seepage through cracks in the foundation, leaky window wells, a plumbing leak, or a burst pipe.

What to look for: Standing water, or puddles in your basement or crawl space is obvious, but other symptoms of a water problem can be harder to spot. Condensation, mold, mildew, efflorescence (white, chalky stains), wet drywall, wet carpet, bowing walls, and musty smells are indicators of water leaks and high humidity.

3. Pests

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Many bugs and other pests are attracted to damp, dark spaces such as basements and crawl spaces. Common pests found in these areas include silverfish, pillbugs, cockroaches, mice, rats, and carpenter ants.

What to look for: If there's a strange smell coming from your air vents, you might want to check for a dead critter in the basement or crawl space. Dead animals or pests can cause a foul odor in the basement or crawl space and upstairs. Droppings and holes in fabric and clothing are also common signs of pest activity in the basement or crawl space.


4. Wood Rot & Dry Rot

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Rotting is a common problem in basements and crawl spaces because of water problems and high humidity.

What to look for: Bouncy, creaky floors aren't just a problem in old homes or haunted houses. Bouncy and sagging floors over the basement or crawl space is a symptom of wood rot, but can also be caused by undersized floor joists or support beams, settling support posts, or insect damage.

5. Condensation

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When humid air comes in contact with a cold surface, it condenses and forms droplets of water or condensation.

What to look for: Humidity plus cold temperatures and surfaces in the basement or crawl space creates condensation on metal pipes, ductwork, concrete floors, and walls. Condensation can lead to mold and rust on objects and surfaces in the basement

6. Efflorescence

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Efflorescence is dissolved salt deposits on the surface of a porous material, such as concrete or brick after the water has evaporated.

What to look for: Many people mistake the white, chalk-like stains on the basement walls and floor as mold. These stains are actually efflorescence. Efflorescence is usually a sign of a leaky basement.


7. Open Sump Pump

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The sump pump is the hole in the basement floor that houses the sump pump. When water collects inside the pit, the sump pump kicks on and pumps the water out of the house to prevent flooding.

What to look for: An open, uncovered sump pit (a hole that the sump pump sits inside) in the basement or crawl space is not only ugly, but it can also be a hazard. A sump pit without a cover can allow moisture, soil gases, and radon to enter the home. The pump can clog with dirt and debris and eventually stop working. There's also a risk that objects, children, and pets might fall into the hole. It's for these reasons that basement sump pumps should have a gas-tight, removable cover.


If you're looking for a professional to help fix water and moisture issues in your basement or crawl space, schedule a free estimate now with a TerraFirma Foundation Systems Design Specialist!

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