When people think about protecting their homes from spring storms, they usually give more consideration to their roofs than their basements. However, heavy rain falls also mean there is a greater chance for flooding in crawlspaces and basements. While flooding is an obvious problem in a finished space; it’s just as important to keep crawlspaces and unfinished areas dry to avoid a musty smell. But the smell is just one part of the issues caused by a damp basement.
Don’t Dismiss the Dangers of a Damp Basement
Even small amounts of water can cause foundation damage, mold growth, musty smells and damage to tools and furniture. Whether from a flood, a small leak or a just excess humidity, a wet basement creates some serious issues:
- Mold and mildew: The growth of mold and mildew is what causes the familiar musty smell in damp basements and crawlspaces. However, mold also releases spores which can aggravate asthma and allergy conditions. In rare cases, exposure has even led to life threatening compilations in those with severe allergies or weakened immune systems.
- Bugs, rodents and pests: A damp basement or crawlspace provides a welcoming environment for pests. Bugs and rodents appreciate the sheltered space with access to water – perfect for breeding. Some critters will even feed or gnaw on the exposed wood structure of a home, causing severe damage.
- Oxidation: High relative humidity in a damp basement can lead to rust on tools and other metal objects; damaging their appearance and performance. Excessive moisture in the air can also cause electronics to fail. If homeowners get a whiff of a musty smell, many items in the basement may be at risk.
How to keep your basement and crawlspace dry
Earlier in the year, the South, plains and Midwest all experienced their share of storms, according to MSN News. More recently, Houston saw widespread flooding after record rainfall in May. Even when spring storms don’t cause rivers to break their banks, they still increase saturation in the ground around houses. Humidity levels also rise in the spring creating moisture problems and musty smells. Yes, even in homes with well-sealed foundations. Protecting a basement or crawlspace requires defending against both types of moisture infiltration.
- Patch and seal: If the source of a leak is obvious and fairly small, homeowners can perform some patching and repairs on their own to prevent leaks. However, if cracks are widespread or there are signs that foundation damage has already occurred, it’s best to call a professional.
- Clear drains and install a sump pump: If a home has a clogged French drain or no sump pump, then there is nowhere for the water to go. Even if a small amount of water sits on the floor for a period of time, the situation can create a musty smell.
- Dehumidify the air: While pumps and drains can remove water from the floor, the only successful way to reduce moisture in the air is with a dehumidifier. Basements and crawlspaces usually have the highest RH levels in the home, which is why a musty smell is so common. Purchasing a high-capacity dehumidifier that can meet the demand is essential.
While it’s great to see that spring has arrived and summer is on its way, the muggy days ahead can cause serious problems in basements and crawlspaces. Homeowners should act now to protect their homes from musty smells, insect infestations and structural damage.