4 Telltale Signs That Your Basement May Need Waterproofing

by Jenny Banks

Your basement doesn't necessarily need to completely flood to show that it needs to be waterproofed. Long before any more flooding occurs, a basement may reveal signs that it isn't impervious to water damage. Here are some telltale signs of a damp basement that needs to be waterproofed.

1. Water Stains Along the Wall

Unclean standing water, such as that from rainwater or river water, will leave telltale stains along the wall. If your new home has a "mystery" line that goes all the way around the lower part of the basement wall, it's highly likely that the basement has flooded at least once since the house was built.

It's possible that the previous homeowner took steps to waterproof the basement after the flooding occurred. To be safe, see if you can find about about prior flooding in the area and any remediation that might have been done on the house.

2. Musty Odor

If you detect a musty odor in your basement, it's very likely that it's because water is seeping through the foundation walls. Musty odors are typically caused by stagnant water, either in the basement itself, or trapped in the pores of the concrete.

Although you could run a dehumidifier in your basement to rid it of the musty odor, a better and more long-term solution would be to waterproof the basement. Remember that since the musty odor is there, some water is already getting through your house and into the basement.

3. White or Gray Marks on the Walls

Powdery white or gray marks on the basement walls are a sign of efflorescence. Efflorescence is a symptom whereby salt water comes through the basement walls. The water evaporates, leaving a telltale salt stain behind.

This is yet another sign that the basement could be improved with waterproofing. Though the stains themselves only cause an aesthetic problem, the underlying dampness of the basement and potential for future flooding is more worrisome and should be addressed.

4. Spalling

When concrete gets wet repeatedly, it can start to break down. Small and large chunks of the concrete basement walls may begin to break off, which is referred to as spalling. Spalling is a serious issue that can lead to more expensive basement repairs and water damage.

Basement waterproofing can stop your concrete basement walls from continuing to spall. Your basement waterproofing professional will first repair the areas where spalling has occurred, then install the waterproofing materials.

If you see any of the above signs that the basement is damp, take steps now to protect your basement against flooding in the future. Basement waterproofing can help protect your entire home investment.