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Question DetailsAsked on 10/6/2013

Noticed two damp spots in basement after very wet spring in Midwest. How to fix the dampness?

Bought the home in May, and it is located in a forest. The Midwest had a very, very wet Spring this year, and I noticed two damp corners in the unfinished basement. The dampness evaporated, and it hasn't happened again. The gutters are clear and I redirected one downspout. The other area isn't near a downspout and the grade of the property looks correct. This area of dampness is near an outside electric meter and I wonder if water travels down the electric line to where it enters the house; however, I don't understand why it would travel to a corner of the basement. I don't see any cracks in the floor or wall.
We get lots of bugs in the basement where the foundation walls meet the floor. We have many spiders also. We want to finish the basement, but I'm reluctant to do so until we solve the dampness and bug problems. Any advice would be appreciated.

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You had the right idea about cutting off the water at its source. Check out the multiple suggestions in the Home > Basement Waterproofing link right under your question - once you have done everything you can to cut the water off at its source, THEN you might think about interior waterproofing measures.

I can't imagine any significant amount of water could come from the electric lines - I am sure it is insignificant compared to just normal rainfall blowing against the house siding and running off. You could caulk around the penetrationto the house from the outside.

Since this was a one-time thing and your basement is unfinished, I would not go to a lot of trouble with inside treatment at this time - just take active dehumidifiction measures when the slab is damp looking - dehumidifier or maybe just good auxiliary fan venting outside.

However, if you decide to go ahead and finish it, then you need to check out the waterproofing and water redirection suggestions in the responses to the questions. Personally, I do NOT favor finishing basements in most cases - they just end up being a load of trouble unless they were intiially build with underdrains, sump pump (even if only as contingency), and under-slab waterproof membrane. Also, most homeowners insurance does NOT cover damage from groundwater.

If you do finish the basement, I would highly recommend treated timber sills, water resistant drywall, economy finishes that are easy to fix if they do get moldy, and cheap, simple flooring - like unbonded carpet over a plastic water-resistant pad over a fully sealed vapor barrier that goes up the walls to ground level also. As much of what you put in the basement should be synthetic as possible - avoid natural fiber flooring for instance, and use plastic bubble rather than fabric or foam padding or underlayment, for instance, and mold-resistant treated fiberglass or rigid styrofoam (can be bought that way) rather than cellulose insulation.

The bugs you can get rid of by caulking the joint between the slab and wall (though I doubt that is where bugs are getting in - I think they just end up there and travel along there) and along the foundation/wood sill junction, which is where they normally come in.

Brush out the joints with a narrow wire brush or compressed air, then caulk with Concrete Caulk - comes in tubes just like regular caulk but designed to stick to concrete. For the foundation/sill joint you can use that or regular exterior house caulk. If you really have a lot of bugs, there are sprays designed for spraying on the outside concrete wall of the house, or granules you put on the ground around the hosue and water in, that work well - of course, not in areas where dogs dig or children might dig or play. For that case, there are sprays that are child-safe after they dry (as long as they do not actually like it), that you spray on the foundation concrete/block.

Answered 5 years ago by LCD




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