Find the Source of Basement Moisture Problems
Albert in Michigan is dealing with a moisture issue. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.
ALBERT: Yeah, I’d recently purchased a home in northern Michigan and my basement just smells mildewy and I’m getting about a gallon-and-a-half of water to my dehumidifier every two days. And I’m just wondering if I can – if this is going to stop.
TOM: Well, there’s a couple of things you can do. First of all, as far as that humidifier is concerned, let’s see if we can dry up the moisture and then we’ll tell you what to do; what’s left over.
You want to start outside the house. Now, most of the time when you have a basement moisture issue, it’s sourcing at the foundation perimeter. So you need to look at the grading and the drainage. This is the angle of the soil around the house and also the gutter system. Make sure it’s clean, free-flowing and the downspouts are 4 to 6 feet away from the house.
Now, those two things are going to dry up significantly, moisture that’s forming inside of a basement. Does this get damper or wetter after a rainfall? A heavy rainfall?
ALBERT: Nah, I don’t get any water or anything in the house. I don’t know if they told you, I do live on a river.
TOM: Right. So you’re dealing with humidity all the time.
TOM: So, managing that moisture is going to be the key and the grading and the drainage is what’s going to do that. Now …
LESLIE: Now, Albert, do you have a forced-air system in the house for heating or cooling?
LESLIE: OK. Well, that’s a good thing because there are several products out there that are whole-home dehumidifiers and they get hooked into your HVAC system. And they’re sort of set up on a humidistat system so you can have it do the entire house, just the basement. You can have it set for different time periods; you can have it kick on, generally, when there’s too much moisture.
And I think when operating at sort of peak efficiency, you’re getting, what is it, 90 liters of water out of the basement daily?
TOM: Ninety pints of water a day.
LESLIE: Ninety pints, thank you.
TOM: Mm-hmm. Yep.
LESLIE: And it goes, you know, right out of the house. There’s never a bucket to empty; you don’t have to worry about the process, in case you forget, and that will constantly remove that moisture.
ALBERT: Yeah. Alright. I guess I’ll have to check my downspouts and my gutters; check that first. I didn’t even think about that.
TOM: Well, I think you’re going to find that that has a dramatic impact on the amount of moisture that gets into that basement space.
LESLIE: That gets in there.
TOM: You’ve got to manage that first 4 to 5 feet of soil around the outside of the house. Keep that dry and the basement will be a heck of a lot dryer. And by the way, with that dehumidifier, if you don’t go with a whole-house, you can get a condensate pump for probably less than 100 bucks. That will pump out the water that’s filling up that pan in the dehumidifier and you won’t have to do it manually.
ALBERT: Yeah, alright. Alright. Well, thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.