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Is it Wise to Finish a Damp Basement?

Dampness is a huge red flag when it comes to the health and structural integrity of your home – don’t ignore it when finishing your basement.

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Are you considering finishing your basement to provide more living space for you and your family? If so, you are not alone. Basement conversion and finishing are some of the most common renovations being undertaken right now, and as people begin to look into their basements, they often uncover something unwanted – dampness. Dampness is an insidious issue that may seem benign, but it can be both a symptom and a cause of much more serious issues in a home. 

damp basement problems

Recognizing Dampness 

Dampness can come from a number of places in any home. It can be caused by external forces, internal malfunctions, and even structural damage. The most common signs of dampness are: 

  • A musty smell 
  • Mold formation 
  • Condensation on the inside of windows 
  • Raised humidity 
  • Raised electricity bills (a result of humidity) 
  • Wet or damp patches on your walls or floor 
  • Water pooling below windows, appliances, or in the basement cove 

There are many potential causes of dampness and water in your basement, but the most common are: 

Damaged Foundation 

Excess hydrostatic pressure, shifting soil, and natural events such as earthquakes can cause damage to your foundation. When this happens water can seep up from the soil beneath your home. This will not only make your basement damp, but it may also worsen the foundational damage. 

Faulty Appliances 

Your washing machine, water heater, and other such appliances can, over time, degrade and begin to leak. Worse still, they can rupture suddenly and cause a plumbing flood. While destructive, these are singular events that can be repaired easily. 

Internal Leaks 

Leaking pipes can go unnoticed for quite some time, which means they often have plenty of time to do real damage to your home and result in a plumbing flood

External Flooding 

While catastrophic in nature, external floods tend to be rare. They are also pretty hard to miss, so if this has been the cause of your dampness problem, a dehumidifier should do the trick nicely. 

Leaking Access Points 

If any windows, crawl space vents, or external access points are loose or damaged, they can let water into your home. This can do real harm to your home but is generally simple to fix. 

A damaged foundation is the most serious and worrying potential cause of dampness, as foundational damage does not improve over time—it only worsens. Foundational damage can let in small amounts of water at first, but as it gets worse and causes walls to bow, for example, you may find pools of water in your basement. Furthermore, foundational damage is the most difficult to repair, so if you have worries about your foundation, you should contact a professional immediately. It will never be easier to fix than it is today. 

Why You Should Deal with Dampness Before You Finish Your Basement 

While it is possible that the dampness in your basement has been caused by a one-time event, it is far more likely that it is a symptom of an ongoing issue. So, while you can finish a damp basement, you really should have a professional identify the cause of the dampness before doing so. 

First and foremost, this will allow you to assess the structural integrity of your home and make sure the issue is not widespread. Secondly, if you do finish your basement before dealing with the dampness, there is always a chance that it will escalate and ruin your hard work. If this happens, you will not only have the expense of repairing the cause of the dampness (and the damage the dampness has caused), but you will have to refinish your basement. 

As such, it makes financial sense, in the long term, to identify and fix any and all issues before you renovate and finish your basement. While doing so may take more time and cost more initially, this investment will pay off in the long run. 

Thankfully, Foundation Recovery Systems offers free, no-obligation inspection appointments to homeowners who are worried about the health of their basement and foundation. One of our experienced professionals will inspect your home and let you know what issues need attention. Your inspector also will recommend the best solutions suited to your specific repair needs. Together we can make your basement a space you love to be in.

FRS Service Area Map with Des Moines

Our Service Areas

Des Moines Location

2401 SE Creekview Dr.
Ankeny, IA 50021

Kansas City Location

211 SE State Route 150
Lee's Summit, MO 64082
(816) 774-1539

Moberly Location

1401 US-24
Moberly, MO 65270
(660) 202-8662

Springfield Location
1820 N Barnes Ave
Springfield, MO 65803
(417) 612-8286
St. Louis Location

1625 Larkin Williams rd.
Fenton, MO 63026
(314) 207-9995