From clay soil in North Dakota to sandy soils in Minnesota, our home foundations are faced with several challenges. That includes expanding and contracting clay that can really put pressure on basement walls. It also includes sandy soil that drains well but can develop substantial hydrostatic pressure against the foundation during the spring thaw.
For real estate professionals seeking sound investment properties or helping families find their dream homes, basements can be very attractive options. They provide additional space that can be finished into a home office, family room, workout area, or fan cave.
But based on our soils and climate, they can also develop into underground ponds that pose serious risks to the livability of the home and cause the value to plummet.
To help you evaluate those basement issues, we’ve pulled together six steps to identify basement issues along with what to do about them.
1. Review the Home’s Structure
If the basement is unfinished, you can get a good look at the state of the foundation. Cracks, gaps, and even crumbling cement can be big warning signs that there are structural issues. Look outside for any cracked brickwork and even a tilting chimney. Inside the rest of the home watch for tilted or sagging floors, drywall cracks or nail pops, as well as sticking doors and windows. The best way to address these findings is to seek advice from foundation repair professionals.
2. Be Aware of Water Issues
Any water in the basement can lead to wood rot, damaged carpeting, mold and mildew, and structural damage over time. Look for wet spots on the walls, water pooling on the floor, mold and mildew, and a musty smell that can permeate the rest of the home. You may also find efflorescence, a white chalky powder on the basement walls due to moisture. The best approach for water issues is basement waterproofing with an interior drainage system, a sump pump, and a dehumidifier. Consult basement waterproofing experts for further insight and repair estimates.
3. Review Insulation Top to Bottom
It’s tough to assess the insulation within the walls of the home. But you can get an idea of what might be there by reviewing the attic and basement insulation. Make sure there’s sufficient insulation in the attic, adding to or replacing it as necessary. Basement insulation can be subject to damp conditions that do no good for the insulating properties and ruin it over time. The best approach is waterproof panels that provide a vapor barrier as well as insulation. Also, inspect the visible HVAC ductwork for its insulation properties and any damage.
4. Inspect for Pests
Basement moisture not only damages wood and carpeting, but it also attracts insects and rodents. Those critters usually get in the same way the water did—through cracks and gaps in the foundation walls. Inspect for droppings, nests, entry points, tracks, and termite mud tubes. Sealing cracks and gaps can prevent entry and help address moisture problems. It may be best to also call in a professional exterminator to get rid of heavy infestations.
5. Testing Basement Mechanicals
Water problems in the basement usually do some damage to the basement mechanicals. This includes the washer and dryer, water heater, and HVAC system. Water can also damage electrical outlets and circuitry. Plus, the moisture also causes rusting of any metal including the electrical circuit box. Due to the high cost of replacement, you’ll want to test everything and fully assess repair/replacement options. A technician can conduct the necessary tests and build a list of required repairs.
6. Review Gutters, Downspouts, and Landscaping
The moisture and water you’re finding in the basement are coming from outside. That’s chiefly due to hydrostatic pressure building up around the basement walls, causing cracks, and seeping into the basement. That water can be pooling around the walls as it runs off the roof and over clogged gutters and downspouts. In addition, if the landscaping isn’t properly sloped away from the home, it too channels water toward the basement. Check the gutters and downspouts for clogs and damage. Make sure the landscaping is graded correctly. Trim trees and shrubs away from the foundation.
We Can Help Identify and Repair Any Basement Issues
As you evaluate any basement issues in properties you may be considering for investment, contact the professionals at Innovative Basement Authority. We can provide a free inspection and repair estimate.