Reduce Moisture in the Basement
LESLIE: Jan in New Hampshire, welcome to The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
JAN: Yes. A couple of years ago, we purchased a split-entry home and when we purchased the home, we asked the people if there was any, you know, water leaking in the lower level or any kind of …
TOM: And they said, “Oh no, Jan.”
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) “Oh, of course not.”
TOM: “There’s no water in the basement of our house.”
JAN: Yeah, right. So anyway, well, they said that there was some but they had it sealed and I’m not sure what they meant by that but they said since they had the whole lower level sealed, that they hadn’t seen any seepage. So …
TOM: Now this is not a houseboat that you’ve purchased, huh Jan?
JAN: No. (Jan, Tom, and Leslie chuckle)
TOM: Because that’s the only reason to seal the lower level of your house. Listen, are you still getting problems now?
JAN: Well, yes. What I’m having now is just – I mean, there’s carpeting down there and tile – not tile but, you know, this like linoleum-type tile? But in the walkway – in the hallway, we have a parquet floor …
JAN: … and this is the second spring that we’ve gone through and each time it’s buckling. I mean, it just kind of buckles all up like it’s going to pop right off the floor and …
TOM: OK. Jan, you have a combination of issues here, OK? First of all, you have high humidity or moisture in your basement or your lower level and the way you address that is by improving the drainage conditions at the foundation perimeter. We’re talking about clean gutters, extend the downspouts, soil that slopes away from the house and a dehumidifier.
Secondly, you have inappropriate flooring materials in your basement. You mentioned carpet – bad idea, holds a lot of mold; lets it grow, especially in that damp condition. And parquet floor also is not a good idea in a very humid space because it will buckle. If you want a hardwood floor in a below-grade space, you have to use something called engineered hardwood, which is made up of multiple layers of hardwood glued together, like plywood, or you could use something like a laminate floor which is inorganic and is not going to be affected by the moisture.
So you have a couple of things to do here. The first thing I would concentrate on is reducing the moisture by improving the drainage conditions outside and reducing the humidity inside.