Strategies that will permanently fix your musty, wet basement.
Diagnose the Water Problem
Watch this video to see how simple the solutions can be:
Get Rid of Excess Humidity
Eliminating the sources of humid air will help dry out your basement. Seal leaky dryer vents with foil tape to prevent unwanted humid air from entering your basement. Don’t just use duct tape; it’ll eventually fall off. Add a vent fan to your basement bathroom and make sure your family turns it on during showers. Keep your basement windows closed during humid weather. And if you’re still getting condensation on cool surfaces, run a dehumidifier to lower the indoor humidity.
Condensation dripping from cold pipes can contribute to basement water problems. Cover cold water pipes with foam pipe insulation to stop condensation. The foam insulation is inexpensive and easy to cut with scissors.
Keep Water Away From the Foundation
If your basement leaks after heavy rains or after snow melts, making sure water is diverted away from your foundation may solve the problem. It’s common for the soil alongside your house to settle over time, creating a moat that collects runoff and directs it down your foundation wall and into the basement. Lawn edging and gravel along the foundation can make things worse. Solve the problem by creating a 6-ft.-wide slope that drops about 4 in. away from the foundation. For extra insurance, cover the sloping soil with a layer of 6-mil poly. Then hide the poly with mulch, gravel or a layer of soil covered with grass. This will keep water from soaking in near the foundation.
Add Gutters and Extend Downspouts
Plug Holes and Cracks in the Foundation
Waterproof the Walls
Install a Drainage System
The best permanent fix for chronic basement leaks is to install drainage tubing below the basement floor that’s connected to a sump basket and pump. You can install a system like this yourself, but breaking out the concrete floor, burying the tubing, and patching the floor is a lot of backbreaking work. Materials to do an average basement will cost $600 to $1,000. Expect to spend $3,000 to $8,000 for a professionally installed system in a standard-size basement.
Install Drainage Mats for a Warmer, Drier Floor
Inspect and Take Notes
You’ll need to do a thorough check of the ground around your foundation. For this you’ll need a 4-ft. level, a tape measure and a notepad. First draw a simple sketch of your house and yard on your notepad. Then use the level to check the slope of the ground around your foundation. Look for areas of sunken soil, garden beds with edging that protrudes to form a dam, and ground that slopes toward the house. Make notes on your sketch with arrows to show which way the ground slopes. This step will help you develop a plan for redirecting the water away from the foundation.
Install a Sump Pump
Installing a basement drainage system is filthy, backbreaking work, but it’s not complicated. With a little instruction from our drain tile experts, you can do a first-class basement drainage job. And DIY pays off big: Pros charge $5,000 to $8,000 for a typical basement drainage job (120 linear feet of drain tile). You can install yours for less than $1,500 in materials and tool rentals. Here’s how to do the whole job.