Summer months in Indianapolis, IN, are typically hot and humid. Everything that could go wrong with the basement goes wrong during this period. Mold streaks will develop, moisture droplets form on the walls, wooden joists rot, and metal will rust. All these issues can lower the quality of life in this area of the home, and also can affect the living space above.
Whatever happens, you should work quickly to get back things to normal. Resolve moisture problems and fix any underlying issues so they won’t recur. Let’s look at how moisture gets into your basement and what measures you can take to control it.
Is It Normal for a Basement to Get Humid?
Yes, it is. Moisture-laden air can enter your basement through open windows and openings and push humidity levels to 60 percent or thereabouts. You have to work to bring the level back down to between 30 percent and 50 percent. Otherwise, excess moisture will encourage mold and mildew growth, rust, and wood rot.
What isn’t normal is for the moisture to build up and exceed 60 percent for a long time. If it’s not summer or there’s no leak, something could be wrong. The source could be anything from trapped moist air to leaky pipes or the laundry in the basement.
Ways Moisture Gets into the Basement
Moisture or water can get into the basement of your home as follows:
- Vapor diffusion. Another way moisture gets into your basement is by diffusing from wet or damp soils through foundation cracks into the drier parts of your basement. The amount of moisture that gets in depends on vapor pressure and how permeable the concrete is.
- Capillary suction. Moisture can get into your basement via porous materials. This happens when the basement wall adhesion is stronger than the bond between water molecules. As a result, water gets sucked up via tiny holes in the concrete wall and laterally via walls. Rings of dampness will form at the lower section of the basement.
- Condensation. As humidity levels rise, condensation will form on cooler surfaces like window panels and air conditioning ducts. The colder the surfaces inside, the greater the condensation.
- Structural cracks. Cracks on the foundation blocks and walls are another vector that can allow water to seep into your basement. These occur due to soil settlement or poorly connected floor joists. Moisture can also seep in through cracks on masonry joints and structures.
- Air leakage. The stack effect (through the walls and floor) can also instigate moisture. When warm air goes up, it creates negative pressure, and this draws moist air through cracks and crevices on the foundation. Sealing cracks and installing a sump pump put can help resolve this problem.
Controlling Basement Humidity in Summer
The first thing you should do is bring down moisture levels. This calls for dehumidification of the basement. Get a self-draining dehumidifier and run it. This device will suck out the moisture from the air and lower the humidity levels down there.
Inspect the basement walls and floors for cracks. They could also contribute to the dampness you’re experiencing. Signs such as efflorescence and spalling are clear indications that water from the outside is getting into the basement.
You can also bolster your dehumidification by repairing your interior drainage system. If it’s old or tends to back up a lot, time is up to replace it with the BasementGutter™ system, a clog-free and reliable interior drainage system. It sits below the subfloor and collects water that enters your basement through the walls, floor, or wall-floor joint. This water is then channeled to a sump pump so it can be pumped out of the basement and away from the foundation.
If condensation is the problem, don’t open your basement windows or door. This way, warm moisture-laden air from the outside won’t raise the humidity levels. You can condition this space with a split-duct air conditioner or a desiccant-type heat exchanger.
Sometimes, rains fall in summer. Make sure your gutters are clog-free and downspout systems extend several feet from your home’s perimeter. Regrade your yard if you feel it will facilitate backflows.
Remove any heaps of wood mulch that sit close to the foundation of your home. When it rains, it will absorb water and increase soil saturation. Plus, it may attract termites and other wood-boring insects.
Get in touch with the professionals at Indiana Foundation Service for a free basement waterproofing inspection and quotes in summer. Other than telling you what’s hurting your basement, our experts will recommend solutions that will keep your basement dry, free of moisture, and clean 365 days a year.