6 Signs of Basement Problems You Shouldn’t Ignore

Verani Realty

Person with construction helmet in cracked basementA basement is the foundation of a healthy and structurally sound home. Unfortunately, there are several common issues, like water and moisture problems for example, that impact everything from air quality to the long-term structural integrity of the house. And the list doesn’t end there.

The solution is knowing the signs to look for that indicate something is wrong. Your basement will give you solid clues that problems are brewing and action is needed to prevent further damage and potential risks.

Here are 6 things to look for:

  1. The foundation has large cracks: Foundation or basement cracks can occur in a variety of shapes and sizes. You might find vertical cracks or horizontal cracks in your basement, and be assured that something is causing this to happen - cracks don't usually appear naturally. It could be from settling, pressure on the walls or under the floor, or any number of other causes. Some smaller cracks may not cause big issues and can be repaired inexpensively, while others are a sign of trouble and need greater intervention.

  2. White, chalky residue on walls: There is limestone in concrete as well as clay, mortar, and aggregate (stone). That white chalky stuff on the walls is the calcium in the block leaching out. It's an indication of water or excessive moisture and is something you should pay attention to.

  3. A “musty” smell in the air: You may think a musty smell is simply what a basement smells like, but that is not the case. Musty odors happen as a result mold, mildew and dry rot. It is the odor given off by the decaying material.

  4. A brownish-black look to exposed wood surfaces: This signifies dry rot – a fungus growth on walls and typically wooden surfaces. Dry rot is caused by the decaying process of the wood so something is causing it - typically moisture.

  5. Rust on the fuse box or water heater: Rust is a sign of excessive dampness or humidity in the basement. It may appear on fuse boxes, water heaters or even your washer and dryer if they are down there. The rust should be removed and the surface repainted as soon as possible, and the cause of the moisture should be addressed.

  6. Damp spots on walls: If the basement walls are unpainted they will appear a darker grey when wet. This means waterer is seeping in. A painted wall will show discoloration or a darkening of the paint. Also, look for a white or dark outline surrounding the area. Outlines on the foundation are telling you that water leakage in the basement has previously occurred.

If you suspect water or structural issues forming in your basement, it is time to call in a professional to inspect the problem and to provide you with repair and preventative care recommendations. Preventing larger issues now will save you money and frustration down the road.

Buying a house? Be sure to read our article on Why You Need a Home Inspection!

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