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basement humidity

Is It Possible to Have a Home with a Basement in a Humid Area?

Want to build a basement but you live in humid St. Louis? Find out how to overcome humidity and have a safe basement.

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A lot of houses are sold because they have basements. But why are future owners drawn to this feature? Because, unlike a concrete slab or even a crawl space, a basement can be used for storage, and if finished, it can even be turned into a cozy living area. A lot of homeowners whose homes have basements have transformed this underground area into a second living room, a man cave, a home gym, a bathroom, or a spare guest room from their loved ones.  

If you wish to build your home on a vacant lot in a humid area and you want to create a basement foundation, you are probably wondering whether that is a good idea. After all, it is easy to see that a lot of houses in humid parts of the country do not have basements. Since the humid Gulf of Mexico influences the climate in Missouri, the homes in the St. Louis area can suffer from moisture problems. So, is it possible to have a basement in a humid area or should you go with a different type of foundation? Let’s find out! 

basement humidity

Why Are Homes Built with Basements? 

In the beginning, basements were built so that homeowners could store goods that could survive in a cool environment. They didn’t have refrigerators back then, so this was their way to keep food fresh for as long as possible. However, as technology has evolved and houses have become bigger, the need for all that extra storage space has declined. Nowadays, basements are often used as an additional room. Having a basement is a convenient way to increase the total square footage of your home. 

Problems with Building Basements in Humid Areas 

The depth of the water table can present a major problem if you wish to build a basement. In the most humid areas, you cannot dig very deep before water begins to flood the hole. This is why most homeowners opt for crawl spaces or concrete slabs. Those who manage to find a suitable property with good drainage and a positive slope could still have to deal with a serious moisture problem in their basement. This can lead to: 

Damaged structure: Water damage is the most common type of damage. If you believe that your basement is protected due to concrete walls, you need to know that these walls are porous. It means that water in the form of moisture can penetrate them and infiltrate your basement, causing all sorts of damage.  

Lower indoor air quality: A moist basement is an ideal home for fungi, bacteria, and viruses. However, after thriving in your basement, they won’t continue to live there only. Instead, they will spread throughout your home and contaminate the air you breathe, causing an array of health issues. Mold and mildew can also lead to wood rot and decay. The outcome is a pungent smell that moves into other rooms and turns your entire home into an inhospitable environment. 

Aggravated existing health issues: People with respiratory problems such as asthma or severe allergies will have a problem when the humidity levels rise. 

Lower house value: The damage from moisture and mold growth can significantly impact the value of your home. No future homeowner wants to buy a mold-infested house with a moist basement. 

Possible Solutions 

So, is it entirely impossible to have a basement in a humid area? Of course not. With state-of-the-art waterproofing measures, you can get rid of moisture and protect your basement from any kind of water damage. You can even turn it into a comfortable living area. If you are building your home, keep in mind that it is more affordable and practical to waterproof your basement while it is still not finished. Here are several ways you can keep your basement a moisture-free environment. 

Installing a Drainage System 

The soil in humid areas is frequently saturated, which means that due to the hydrostatic pressure, that moisture could easily infiltrate your basement walls. Luckily, with a proper drainage system, you can avert this problem. These perforated pipes are buried at the bottom of the foundation footing and they control the level of moisture in the soil. Anytime there is excess water, whether because of heavy rains or snowmelt, the water will be directed away from your home and basement. 

Installing a Sump Pump 

Repairing a basement after a flood can be pricey. Not only do your walls and floor get soaked, but everything in your basement will be destroyed by flooding. To ensure that large volumes of water can be quickly and easily discharged from your basement, install a sump pump. If you are worried that it won’t work during a blackout, just invest in a battery backup sump pump. 

Sealing the Basement Walls 

As mentioned, concrete basement walls are not impermeable, so they will cave under hydrostatic pressure and let the moisture in. This moisture can lead to mold, mildew, and other issues. To prevent this problem from happening, cover your walls with WallSeal™. This vapor barrier system will not only protect your basement from moisture but it will also make your basement much nicer. 

Installing a Dehumidifier 

To keep the humidity levels in your basement under control, consider installing a dehumidifier. However, keep in mind that store-bought dehumidifiers are not strong enough to get the job done. Therefore, contact your local contractors and have them install a professional dehumidifier. By circulating dry air through space, this appliance will dry out your basement, turning it into a comfortable living space. The water that the dehumidifier collects can go into a sump pump pit, a perimeter drain, or leave your home through a condensate pump. 

Re-Grading the Yard 

If the water always pools around the perimeter of your home during heavy rains, you need to regrade your yard. Otherwise, it will damage your basement and cause a lot of other issues.  

If you wish to build a basement in a humid area, investing in waterproofing measures can help you keep your basement nice and dry. Contact professional contractors at FRS and schedule a free inspection.

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