Controlling Dampness In Basements

Preventing mold and mildew

Left unchecked, dampness in a basement can rot wood, peel paint, and promote rust and mildew.  Here’s a simple test to determine if dampness is caused by seepage or excessive humidity.

Cut several 12-inch squares of aluminum foil.  Tape them to various spots on the floor and walls, seal the perimeters tightly.  If moisture collects between the foil and the surface after several days, waterproof the interior walls.  If moisture forms on the foil’s surface, take steps as follows:

  • Close windows on humid days;
  • Install a window exhaust fan;
  • Vent your clothes dryer to the outdoors;
  • Wrap cold-water pipes with fiberglass insulation or foam plastic sleeves;
  • Clear clogged drains and roof gutters;
  • Use a dehumidifier, especially during the summer months;
  • Treat walls with epoxy-base waterproofing paint or epoxy masonry sealer;
  • Cover a dirt or gravel floor with a 4-inch layer of concrete poured on top of a plastic vapor retarder;
  • Install a drainage system or a sump pump to combat chronic flooding;
  • Regrade around the house so that water will flow away from the foundation.

If you have a damp basement always keep boxes and valuables on high shelves or on 2 X 4’s set on concrete blocks.  The former prevents damage from floods; the latter provides ventilation around the boxes.

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